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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

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 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 4, 2011

AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! – A Reckless Disregard for Gravity

Filed under: Action & Shooter, Other, Paid, Sport & Racing, WindowsTaylorLF @ 04:24

AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! — A Reckless Disregard for Gravity. Yes, that is the entire title. Judging from the title, one could assume it would have to do with falling. You would be correct. When I first played, I asked myself “Is this really all it is?” It was. On the other hand though, it’s incredibly fun.

The game play is simple enough. You fall, using the controls to either slow you down or speed you up, and fall through plates with numbers on them for points. Then you start adding the fact you get points for being close to objects that if you hit them would cause certain death, stunts, spraying graffiti onto buildings, giving thumbs up to fans, flipping off protesters (you don’t see it, just an action), all this while you’re free falling to the ground. Some levels are fairly open, like the mountains. You just scrap by the edge, getting points for that while hitting the plates, then parachute at the end and try to land in the circle marker. Then you get into levels like the city, with buildings being everywhere and it starts to become more frantic and frankly, more fun. Hurtling 100 mph between the cracks of skyscrapers, hitting point plates and performing a whole bunch of actions is just fun. The better you do the more points you get. The more points you get the more stuff you unlock. There are a lot of levels to play through, with each having point goals, so it’s a game that can keep you busy. It’s also a game you can pick up and play a level or two while waiting on something, so it has the advantage of being easy to pick up and put down but also being something you could play for a while.

The graphics are okay. There’s not a whole lot going on, some things have detail, others are just there. It’s not a big deal though because you’re not sitting there admiring a building going “Man, they spent a lot of time on that.” You’re hurtling downwards trying to avoid becoming a human pancake and getting points, not go “Oooh, shiny!” The music however is a great placement. It has a rock element that just gets your adrenaline going and blood pumping. It really sets the whole free falling atmosphere and constant pressure of slamming into a building.

Overall, it’s a great game. If you’re afraid of heights, moving fast, or get easily excitable through adrenaline (in a bad, unhealthy way), then don’t play it. If you’re not any of those things, look it up. Currently no demo but plenty of game play videos up.

AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! – A Reckless Disregard for Gravity

 ★★★★☆ 

Gameplay:★★★★☆ 
Technical:★★★★☆ 
Just don’t start singing “Free Fallin” please.

Game: AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! – A Reckless Disregard for Gravity | Developer: Dejobaan Games

March 28, 2011

Aleph One

Filed under: Action & Shooter, Free, Linux, Macintosh, WindowsHeath @ 05:15

Excuse me Sir!

Aleph One

Were you a Mac-gamer 12 years ago? Are you interested in playing the spiritual ancestor of the Halo Series? Then it’s time, dear friend, to download and enjoy Aleph One and play through all the Marathon Games that you can eat.

How This Works:

So you don’t just download the game Marathon. You have to download the Aleph One runtime and then download the files for each game you want to play. Don’t worry, this is 100% legal. Bungie released the source code for it a long time ago, so you’re good. This also means there are tons of user-created maps and scenarios.

There are installers for Mac, Windows and Linux. So, everyone gets their fair try. Trust me, it’s a good time.

Gameplay

You are the last defender of the space station ‘Marathon’. Aliens are trying to take over, but you, and your guns and wits, are standing between them. You relive the battles that have happened in the past by logging into computers and seeing what the A.I. has to say. Seriously, the plot is what makes this a great great game.

Why yes, sports fan, those are double shotguns.

You have to figure out mazes, shoot aliens and flip switches and stuff. On top of that, the music is, in the words of my girlfriend ‘tripping me out’. This game is a sensory delight. You will look up from your screen and realize you have just lost hours of your life, and you couldn’t be happier.

Technical

There’s no jump. Get used to it. You’ll be happier in the long run. This makes certain levels very frustrating. Every Marathon player has been at that point where they’re staring at a hole in the wall, within striking distance of the end, and you would be totally fine if you had a jump but no.

You have a motion detector, a map and a comprehensive readout of ammo and guns. Despite this, the aliens will kill you. Do not despair. Oh yeah, it doesn’t save after every level (there aren’t really levels, only transport points) so even if you finish a level, you still have to save.

Multiplayer

The single player was great, the Multiplayer was epic. Even today it sets the standard for quality online interactions. Seriously, this is LAN party material if I ever saw it. I used to play it before school. God my life was sad.

Final Verdict

Really? Do I really have to give a final verdict for one of the best games that has ever been released? Judge for yourself.

Aleph One

 ★★★★★ 

Gameplay:★★★★★ 
Technical:★★★★★ 
Multiplayer:★★★★★ 
Shoot aliens. Be confused by the A.I.

Game: Aleph One | Developer: Bungie

March 10, 2011

Ninja Hamsters Vs Robots

Filed under: Action & Shooter, Android, Free, WindowsJosh @ 09:22

This hamster has some sweet upside-down ninja moves.

If you can read a game title like Ninja Hamsters Vs. Robots and not immediately do whatever it takes to get your hands on the game, I don’t know what kind of horrible person you are. Hamsters are cute, Ninjas are awesome, robots are just plain cool, and all of them together should be nothing short of incredible. Unfortunately, Ninja Hamsters Vs. Robots proves that even a formula doused with this much awesome sauce can yeild a slightly uninspired result.

Sure, this game has all the pieces you’ve come to expect from the genius called Nerdook: cute cartoony characters, a clever sense of humor, and music that may not be the greatest ever but is certainly catchy and sets the perfect mood. However, the gameplay is sadly shallow, especially after following I Am an Insane Rogue AI. I know Nerdook’s games are usually pretty simple, but this one feels even more stripped down than usual – to the point where it ceases to be interesting.

Robots require logical explanations every step of the way.

The basic premise is that the Insane Rogue AI (from I Am an Insane Rogue AI, in case it wasn’t immediately obvious) has already killed all the humans and taken over the world. The task of bringing it back under the control of non-AI beings falls into the hands of hamsters. Hamsters who are trained in the ninja arts.

Robots parachute from the sky, and by clicking them you send the little ninja hamster to attack. You earn points by collecting sushi, which you can spend on upgrades for your cute little guy, making him an even better ninja. At the end of each stage, after taking down a number of waves of bots – a number which increases every level – you must fight a boss that looks like a silhouette water tower with a single red eye.

Bottom line: had this been built by anyone else, I may have given it higher marks. But Nerdook generally puts out such awesome and addictive titles that Ninja Hamsters Vs. Robots set my expectations pretty high. It’s not a bad game by any means, but we all know that Nerdook can do better. Perhaps this game was designed specifically to be compatible with Kongregate’s new Android app, and that may have been stifling to its true potential. (To be honest, the game is actually more fun on an Android device than it is on a computer screen.) But don’t feel too badly about skipping this one, unless you absolutely must know how the whole Insane Rogue AI taking over the world thing ends.

Nerdook still holds a special place in my heart, though, and I eagerly look forward to his next masterpiece.

The Sushi Chef tries to inform you of the differences between reality and the video game world. This is so you don't send your pet hamster to a terrible death by dressing it up like a ninja and sending it after an army of killer robots.

Ninja Hamsters Vs Robots

 ★★½☆☆ 

Gameplay:★★★☆☆ 
Technical:★★☆☆☆ 
The game is called Ninja Hamsters Vs Robots. Seriously. What more do you need to know?

Game: Ninja Hamsters Vs Robots | Developer: Nerdook

March 3, 2011

Killzone 2

Filed under: Action & Shooter, Other, Paid, PlaystationLucjan @ 07:05

With the recent release of Killzone 3, which we have an upcoming review for, I thought it would be appropriate to go back and review the game that I personally consider to be the spirit of the franchise. Sure, Killzone started the whole thing on the Playstation 2, but that was one of those games that had a great thing going for it conceptually, but fumbled the ball in the actual implementation.

Killzone 2, however, fixed all the clunky controls and excessive grays of its predecessor, bringing in some starkly contrasting reds and blues to highlight important happenings on the battlefield. Essentially, Killzone 2 picks up the storyline after the original game ends. The ISA is attacking the planet Helghan in retaliation for the Helghast attack on the planet Vekta. The ISA aim to remove the Hitler-esque, but very charismatic dictator of Helghan, Scolar Visari. Honestly, even I was pretty impressed by Scolar Visari’s speeches in both the original game and Killzone 2. I would have fought for him before I would have fought for the ISA. But, that aside, the game follows you (Sergeant Sevchenko) and your squad through the campaign storyline with the aim of capturing Visari. The graphics, sound and overall ambience of this game at its release were unmatched, and I dare say they stand out fantastically well even now, years later.

Killzone 2 Intro Movie

It also had an awesome multiplayer experience, with some unique objectives and dynamic maps that easily put anything Modern Warfare ever spawned to artistic shame. The multiplayer experience involved two opposing squads of 8 players to battle in various different game modes, whether it was simply a slugfest, where the highest kill count wins, or capture-the-flag or king-of-the-hill style scenarios. It held attention, and it held it well.

Not only that, but the single player campaign ended on something of a cliffhanger. I won’t ruin it for you in case you haven’t played it, but it sets the stage perfectly for the introduction of Killzone 3 and the bigger, badder nemesis you are introduced to there. And, undoubtedly, who we will have the pleasure of fighting in the inevitable Killzone 4. And let me tell you, he’s a doozy of a villain…

Killzone 2

 ★★★★★ 

Gameplay:★★★★★ 
Technical:★★★★☆ 
Multiplayer:★★★★★ 
Fantastic, gritty, and addicting.

Game Series: Killzone | Developer: http://www.guerrilla-games.com/

March 2, 2011

Magicka

Filed under: Action & Shooter, Paid, WindowsNina S. @ 05:52

I got Magicka while I was sitting in a room full of people, bored out of my mind. It was one of those days. I started playing it and was immediately impressed, mostly by the cute graphics. They’re not too complicated, but they really get the job done. Besides that, I like the choices the developers made. They could have vied for the more dungeon-esque type art style, which would have worked just as beautifully for the gameplay, but instead they kept it simple and fun. It’s an easy thing to overlook if you’re just in the mood to play a game and not dissect it or anything, but I appreciate those little things.

Now, there isn’t a lot of complexity with Magicka. You have to remember some basic spells and use them in combination to get through various trials. Re-reading that sentence, it sounds rather boring, so let me be a little clearer. The game isn’t complicated, by way of use. The tutorial is fantastic, and anyone can play it. That’s why it makes such an ideal multiplayer. You can play it with a bunch of adult friends or you can play with others.

It’s one of the few games I’ve noticed lately that has a local co-op option, which just blows my mind. I won’t lie, just the fact that it has local co-op already gives it a fairly high number of points in my system, just because a lot of the bigger name companies are getting rid of this. This feature is why I got into games in the first place, when I was little it was the whole reason I even bothered to leave my cove of books and drawings. Local co-op is what games are all about for me.

Another thing that Magicka has going for it is the fact that it’s funny. It’s meant to be kind of a satire of the games we’ve been playing for years. Couple that with a story based on mythology, challenging fights, and interesting levels, and this is really the kind of game I want to have around when I’m sitting around with a bunch of friends.

I love this game. It’s got a good, solid premise and is executed wonderfully. The price just can’t be beat and it’s fun. Yes, damnit, I said fun. Hours of entertainment seems to be easy enough to come by these days, but fun? Fun is a marvel.

Magicka

 ★★★★¾ 

Gameplay:★★★★¾ 
Technical:★★★★½ 
Multiplayer:★★★★★ 
A Norse adventure with friends.

Game: Magicka| Developer: Arrowhead Game Studio

February 27, 2011

A.R.E.S.: Extinction Agenda

Filed under: Action & Shooter, Paid, WindowsNina S. @ 05:24

Now, I’m not too fond of action games. I don’t know why, exactly, it’s not like I have anything against them, it’s more that I can rarely get sucked into them. I know there are plenty of action games with fantastic stories but I can never find one that is balanced in just the right way for me to actually care about the characters and want to kick ass. This previous assumption was not only blown away by A.R.E.S. : Extinction Agenda, it made me want to go back over the games that I’d already played and see if I missed anything.

My first impression of the game was a rather stunned “Wow!” I wasn’t expecting to be so pumped up from the short opening but I really was. The music choice was incredible (which remains a constant throughout the game) and the art works well. It’s a clean kind of gritty that makes me happy to be blowing crap up.

Now, in A.R.E.S., you’re playing as a special suited individual who is sent in to investigate the happenings of a ship that was taken over. There are hostages somewhere, an important Doctor in particular, that you have to save. Unfortunately, standing between you and the hostages are a number of rogue and dangerous machines. Your course of action? Blasting through them, naturally.

I was a little worried as I moved through the tutorial, as the instructions are written as much for an Xbox controller as a keyboard. I’ve found that when this is the case, there is sometimes something lacking in the keyboard version. Like they really want you to play it on the Xbox, but since you’re going to use a keyboard they kind of threw something together. That isn’t the case here, the keyboard instructions work just fine and the game runs smoothly without any weird finger stretches required.

The game also allows you to upgrade your guns and suit. You do so with the bits and pieces of the robots you destroy on your way through the game. I thought this was interesting, especially because you can also use these bits and pieces to make healing packs, which…you know, I kind of needed quite often.  I found myself really enjoying this game but I still have a bit of trouble remembering that fire is bad and I shouldn’t stand in it.

All in all, this game had me pumped. I was so freakin excited about shooting things that were shooting at me I literally ended up cheering by the time I killed the first boss. Well worth a look.

A.R.E.S.: Extinction Agenda

 ★★★★¾ 

 
Gameplay:★★★★★ 
Technical:★★★★½ 
Get ready for some ACTION!

Game: A.R.E.S.: Extinction Agenda| Developer: Extend Studio

February 26, 2011

Treadmillasaurus Rex

Filed under: Action & Shooter, Free, Puzzle & Casual, WindowsJosh @ 09:20

Spin time! Hooray! Wait, is that good?

If you could bring dinosaurs back from extinction, like in the film Jurassic Park, what would you do with them? If you said, “Put them on a treadmill, have a disco party, and add Wheel-of-Fortune-type mini-games,” then boy do I ever have a game for you.

Treadmillasaurs Rex is a game in which you play as the T-rex, pretty much the king of the dinosaurs. Awesome, right? Well… Not really, since this entire game is spent on a treadmill.

Personally, if I were a T-rex, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t stand for this kind of treatment. I mean, being forced to run on a treadmill while dodging spike balls and lasers really sounds pretty un-T-rex-like. I’d much rather be out trashing buildings and brawling with my mortal enemy the triceratops. Or maybe some velociraptors or something.

Spikes. The fastest way to re-extinct-ify the T-rex.

“But wait,” you say. “This isn’t just any old treadmill. It’s a party treadmill!”

True. I suppose Treadmillasaurus Rex features a party treadmill. And there is a Wheel-of-Awesome which spins every now and again. But that wheel is filled with some pretty nasty things. Some of the things listed on this wheel are “right laser” and “left laser,” which move the lasers that confine you even closer. And “wind” just causes there to be more resistance. Every once in a while, you power up with “party +1″ and “confetti +1,” but those things are hard to enjoy when you are running for your life. But at least you get to count the amount of calories this poor creature is burning. (Yes, this game actually makes me feel sorry for the T-rex, that poor old king of the terrible lizards.)

Quite frankly, Treadmillasaurus Rex was designed for one specific type of person. Fortunately, I’ve never met that type of person. That is to say, if you are a normal person who is into normal things, skip this game. If you have fun dressing up animals and forcing them into extremely strict workout regimens, you might actually get some satisfaction from this. You sick freak.

It's a calorie-burnin' party up in here!

Treadmillasaurus Rex

 ★★☆☆☆ 

Gameplay:★★☆☆☆ 
Technical:★★½☆☆ 
You managed to bring a T-rex back from extinction and this is what you do with it?

Game: Treadmillasaurus Rex| Developer: Armor Games

February 19, 2011

Tommy Tronic

Filed under: Action & Shooter, Adventure & RPG, Other, Paid, WindowsNina S. @ 09:31

Tommy Tonic was a rather cute game. It was one of those that kind of screamed Indie Game, all the while charming you subtly with its simplicity. It was not fantastic but on the same note, it was not horrible either. It is listed as a Family game and I am not sure how much I agree with that but it did have more positive points than negative ones, so I guess all in all it was a good time. At least I do not feel like I wasted my money.

To begin with, the theme song for Tommy Tonic is…well, cute. I do not want to overuse that word but I feel like that is exactly what I am going to do for this review. The song was cute, the art style was cute, even the darn dog you are supposed to be looking for is cute. It is a cute game and that earns it at least a few points in my book.

The game is a platformer, which I will be the first to admit is not really my usual choice. They are games that are primarily built on the laws of physics and I am a bit of a rager when I have to watch my character repeatedly fail to hit a ledge. At any rate, this game did not help that rage in the least bit.

After a few minutes of rearranging my controls, I quickly found that Tommy Tonic is not terribly sensitive in the controls. I found myself subjected to a definitely slide factor and invisible moon boots. This would have been fine; I am more than willing to compromise with my buttons in order to stay on a ledge. However, when you add these problems to an overly responsive directional change it can get a little frustrating.

That complaint aside (I realize it is a rather big one, especially for this kind of game but go with me on this) this game was not terrible. The voice acting was hit and miss but when it did hit it was rather well done. I enjoyed listening to Tommy and for the most part was not annoyed by the various quests and requests standing in between my lost puppy and me.

Lastly, the story is all right. Nothing fancy but nothing awful here. Overall, this game was just rather…”eh.” It was not bad, it was not good; it was just there. I got it while it was on sale for five bucks, which seemed about right. Granted, it is usually ten and I do not know how pleased I would have been if I had paid all that but as is I am not complaining. It is in my pile of “games I’ll consider playing if I’m really, really bored”…but I probably will not bother.

Tommy Tronic

 ★★☆☆☆ 

 
Gameplay:★★☆☆☆ 
Technical:★★☆☆☆ 
So-so.

Game: Tommy Tronic | Developer: Oasis Games

February 16, 2011

Bit. TRIP BEAT

Filed under: Action & Shooter, Arcade & Retro, Other, Paid, WindowsNina S. @ 06:00

I am finding that more and more I like games that are built on the idea of rhythm. After Audio Surf, I have been looking into games that are not just tools for making your own music, but games that are run on that kind of idea. That you should be able to incorporate your own style and choices of music into your gaming experience. I am sure it is obvious why but I just feel like, though major companies are not picking it up yet, this is the next step in big games. It is a kind of customization that goes further than just picking what color hair or which set of features you want with your adventure. It is about adding something that is uniquely you to a pastime. That is why I was so excited when I found the rhythm game called BIT.TRIP Beat.

Now, while I believe that the aforementioned perk is important I also understand that in order to be a good game it has to stand on its own. That means that no matter how much rhythm you put into a game, if it sucks it sucks. Luckily, for me, BIT.TRIP Beat was just as fun in practice as it was in theory.

In case the title does not give it away, the game is another one of those throwback games. It incorporates a lot of the older game aspects and puts a modern twist on old ideas. I, Personally, am thrilled by most of these efforts and this game was no different. The Bit style of artwork is fun and encouraging. The game is classified as “casual” and “action” on Steam but I am going to go ahead and include “arcade” with my own review, just because it has that kind of classic feel to it.

The game is not just that, though. It is a bunch of pretty colors and fantastic sounds, but on top of that, it has more substance. It is filled with classic style boss battles. In addition, it has a few rather intense cut scenes, which I was not expecting at all when I picked this one up.

Overall, this is a game that goes above and beyond my expectations. It is sophisticated in a very laid-back kind of way, presenting itself as one thing and then wowing you with a completely different charm than you ever expected. It takes greatness and tacks onto it. This is a real crowd pleaser.

P.S. I just wanted to add that I didn’t realize that this company also does quite a few other games that I didn’t realize were…Indie. I’m not sure if this company still counts as an Indie developer with that kind of resume, but they’re worth checking out, still. Very impressive work.

Bit. TRIP BEAT

 ★★★★★ 

Gameplay:★★★★★ 
Technical:★★★★★ 
I love it when a good game comes together.

Game: Bit. TRIP BEAT | Developer: Aksys Games

February 15, 2011

Moby Dick – The Video Game

Filed under: Action & Shooter, Adventure & RPG, Arcade & Retro, WindowsJosh @ 07:19

Sure, you begin the game as a harmless little guy...

Moby Dick – The Video Game is based off the famous novel by Herman Melville. Sort of. Okay, just barely. There is a big white whale, but I guess the similarities end there.

The premise is that you take control of a whale and wreak havoc on sailors. When you begin the game, you are quite small. You’ll have difficulties rocking even the weakest boats. As you eat sailors and fish, your maximum health will increase, and so will your size. And with your size comes the ability to jump higher out of the water, so ultimately you’ll be able to snack on seagulls. And even aliens!

The control scheme is deliciously simple. Just move your mouse in the direction you want your whale to move, and left click if you want to boost. You’ll want to be careful with the boost, though, because you can only use it when your boost meter is full.

Besides the boost meter, there are three bars you will want to keep your eyes on. First is the health meter, which lets you know the percentage of health you have left. (Your maximum health is constantly increasing, but the size of the health bar itself doesn’t grow.) Second there is air bar, since whales are air-breathing mammals. (Yes, it’s science.) Last is the hunger meter, letting you keep tabs on the whale’s appetite. The hunger bar and the air bar are both constantly draining. Refill the air bar by popping your head above the surface, and refill your hunger bar by eating things. If either the air bar or the hunger bar drains completely, your health bar will start draining and you’ll get a warning on the screen. Once your health is completely gone, the game ends and your score is added up. Oh, and there are quite a few achievements to unlock, so you’ll have to play quite a few rounds before earning all of them.

The music is a pirate-themed accordion tune, which fits the atmosphere of the game brilliantly. And the quaint graphics are a nice touch.

If you need to do a book report on Moby Dick, Moby Dick – The Video Game is probably not going to help you out much. But if you want to eat sailors and sink ships, then this game is the perfect way to spend an afternoon.

...But you will eventually grow large enough to destroy entire ships!

Moby Dick – The Video Game

 ★★★★☆ 

Gameplay:★★★★☆ 
Technical:★★★★☆ 
A sailor-eating adventure that is just barely based off the classic Herman Melville novel.

Game: Moby Dick – The Video Game | Developer: Camaleonyco, Sballteam, and SMilesInDaHat

February 10, 2011

Path of Honor: Chapter 1

Filed under: Action & Shooter, Adventure & RPG, Free, WindowsJosh @ 05:14

At first, this looks like a pretty traditional 16-bit RPG.

Path of Honor: Chapter 1 looks like a pretty standard old school RPG. But it’s not.

Sure, the quaint 16-bit graphics and top-down view make us think we’re about to experience something we might have seen on Super NES back in the day. You will run around exploring and talking to villagers. And then you get your first taste of combat. No one can blame you for expecting traditional turn-based combat, with menus and magic and all that. Instead, all of a sudden this turns into a top-down shooter. Instead of swords and staffs, you have very modern weaponry. There is the Glock, the Desert Eagle, the AK47, and quite a few more guns that would probably be more at home in Counter-Strike than in an ARPG. Eventually, you can even purchase a plasma gun.

While the aesthetics are a great tribute to the golden age of the RPG, Path of Honor makes a lot of mistakes in delivering a solid RPG experience, and most of these could have been easily corrected.

First of all, one of the reasons we love old school RPGs so much is that they have great stories. Path of Honor has almost no plot line. You start out in your house, where you pick up your father’s guns. When you get bored of talking with your family, you venture out into the overworld. You meet a band of rebels who want to recruit you to defeat an evil emperor or something. Why? Simply because he’s evil. We don’t know if he’s a war-monger, or if he burns villages or robs his people with excessive taxes. Apparently this band of rebels thinks he’s evil and that’s all the reason we need to join the effort in fighting him off. Eventually, you’ll learn that he has kidnapped a king, but this is long after you’ve already agreed to join the fight against him.

There is definitely some mischief brewing here.

And there is no character development. We never get much information about who anyone is, just stock dialogue that seems like it wasn’t given very much thought. Having more exchange between the protagonist and his family in the beginning would have helped to establish a better idea about who this character is and would get players a little more emotionally involved.

The quest system could use some work. When you talk to a NPC that gives you a quest, your quest bar lights up. Often, you won’t even know what your objective is until you check your quest log. And this log isn’t very intuitive. Quests will always be listed in the order that you got them, from first to last. So in order to see your current objectives, you’ll have to page through all your completed quests. These should have been put in order from newest to oldest, and incomplete quests should always be auto-sorted to the top of the list.

There doesn’t seem to be much variation in the enemies you fight. Everything is  a zombie, or a zombie dog, or a zombie chicken. Yeah, zombies are cool, but could we fight something more RPG-ish, like knights and dragons and salamanders? Even a floating eyeball or two would be a welcome site.

Despite all its flaws, Path of Honor is actually pretty fun. While the combat system will probably make you say “WTF?” it’s still a lot of fun to blast things with modern weapons.

Path of Honor is an action RPG that never really makes its mind about what it wants to be. Is it an RPG? A shooter? Is the environment more modern or medieval? How realistic is this world? Who are all these characters? Why should we care? The game never figures any of this out. Regardless, there is still something charming about Path of Honor. If following chapters can address some of the flaws in Chapter 1, there’s the potential for a decent RPG experience.

This is the weirdest combat I've ever seen in an RPG.

Path of Honor: Chapter 1

 ★★½☆☆ 

Gameplay:★★★☆☆ 
Technical:★★☆☆☆ 
An action RPG that isn’t quite sure what it’s trying to accomplish.

Game: Path of Honor: Chapter 1 | Developer: Matakukos

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