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Multiplayer Game Reviews

March 15, 2011

Return All Robots

Filed under: Paid, Puzzle & Casual, Strategy, XBoxNina S. @ 06:02

Flipping through the Xbox marketplace can be exhausting. It’s like dumpster diving, you’re weeding through mounds and mounds of garbage hoping for something good. Return All Robots was that nugget of glorious gold I found while scraping the bottom of a bucket. It was the iPhone someone accidentally tossed in the can while clearing the table. It was an incredible game.

First of all, the art on the cover of Return All Robots is beautiful. This is a constant throughout the game. The art style is crisp and fun, without losing any quality. The music choices are just as impressive, really well thought out and entertaining without taking away from the game itself.

One of my favorite things to find in a game is humor. This game is funny but beyond that, it uses a lot of pop culture humor which makes you excited to get to the next page so you can see if you’ll get the next joke. Besides that, it’s filled with interesting, likeable characters that really pull you into the story and make you care.


The game play itself is all about block puzzles. You have to lead a number of robots to freedom while dodging obstacles and evil robots as well. You basically have to lead them into one direction and use the various blocks there to keep them from going off the deep end. Think of it as a sliding game, the robots will continue forward until they hit one of these blocks so you use them to get the robots where you want.

Even with all its jokes and fun, this is a challenging puzzle game. It’s all about planning out your movements and having fun while you think. Any game that makes you think as hard as this one without making you feel like it’s a chore should be commended.

The first thing I had to tackle when I decided to play this game was the price. Now, I realize it’s not all that expensive, but when you’re seeing a bunch of options that are only a dollar and this one is three times as much, it’s easy to balk and buy something cheaper instead. In this care I just want to say that you get what you pay for. This game is more because it’s worth more.

Return All Robots

 ★★★★¾ 

 
Gameplay:★★★★½ 
Technical:★★★★★ 
A puzzle in a box. It’s got what robots crave.

Game: Return All Robots | Developer: Space Whale Studios

March 14, 2011

Kaptain Brawe: A Brawe New World

Filed under: Paid, Puzzle & Casual, Strategy, WindowsNina S. @ 06:25

Kaptain Brawe: A Brawe New World was an awesome game. I’m probably a little biased because it’s one of those wonderful click and combine games. You know the kind, the ones where you find item A in one room and item C in another room, combine them and make item B, which you need to open the door to the next puzzle. I love those kinds of games and usually they have to be pretty awful to turn me off, butt his one isn’t by any means awful. It’s a clever game with a simple premise.

You play the game as Kaptain Brawe, who kind of reminds me of that blonde captain from Futurama. Zapp Brannigan. In the demo, he has a second in command who is also a lot like Kif, in the sense that he’s fully aware of the fact that his commanding officer is a dimwit, but covers for him with a bit of annoyance and good humor. They’re fun characters.

The game play itself is nothing new. Like I said, you find items and use them to get places. When  you have a game like this, which is so much alike others, you really have to focus on the aspects that are different. Is the story good? Are the characters engaging? Is it funny? The answer to all of these questions would be a resounding “Yes!” The world that develops around you is not only pretty, it’s interesting and interactive. If you’re not laughing over Brawe’s stupidity, you’re laughing at the descriptions and various items that liter the world they’ve created, just to be amusing.

Another leg up this game has over the competition is the fact that it has two options. You can play it for fun and the likes and laugh over the silly monologue or you can play it without it and really challenge yourself with the item puzzles. I played both and found them acceptably different. You still get the same game but with a steeper learning curve, which is always awesome.

All in all, I thought this was a fantastic game. You find a little bit of everything here. There’s humor, challenge, and fun, dynamic characters that work hard to make sure you enjoy your time. The price is a little higher than the other games I played this week but it was well worth it. Even though the screenshots I’ve got posted are the developer snaps (I’m having a weird problem taking screenshots in games, they always turn out black or white) they’re a good representation of what the game world is like. It’s lush, pretty, and done with a great eye to detail. Well worth it.

Kaptain Brawe: A Brawe New World

 ★★★★¼ 

 
Gameplay:★★★★¾ 
Technical:★★★¾☆ 
Exploring new worlds with a lovable, stupid character!

Game: Kaptain Brawe: A Brawe New World| Developer: Cateia Games

March 12, 2011

Timeslip

Filed under: Paid, Strategy, XBoxNina S. @ 08:03

Timeslip is the first game I played for this week and mostly I picked it because it said that it was in the UK for a while. Maybe I’m a little biased but every since discovering Doctor Who, I’m excited about all thing from English. Silly, I know, but that’s why I decided to give it a shot!

Now, in Timeslip you play as a snail. Luckily, you’re a pretty fast moving one and your goal in your new snail-y life is to collect coins and make it to the end of this magical world without dying. Now, naturally, this magical world is filled with traps and puzzles that you have to work through in order to progress. Sounds pretty simple, right?

Well, the trouble in this game comes with how you have to complete these puzzles. The thing is, you play the game in time loops. By that I mean you have about a minute to get your snail lined up and in position before a loop occurs and you have to avoid a new and devilish obstacle: yourself. Once the timer runs out you will have a phantom you running around and doing exactly what you just did. You can’t touch your phantom or you’ll create a time paradox and thus end the game. Still, you and your fellow phantoms have to work together in order to complete the level.

This game requires quite a bit of thought, which I think is admirable by itself. You have to plan out your movements if you  have any chance at all of beating the levels. Sometimes this requires that you run through the level once, knowing that you’re going to fail, just so you can map out your next move. It’s different, though I could understand if someone were primarily annoyed by the necessity.

Besides that, I have a few comments on the aesthetics of the game. The opening music is fun and a good pick. During the tutorial you have these swirly red letter that could easily contribute to nausea. It’s a minor detail but it wasn’t well thought out. In addition, when you run into a time warp there is this swirly black and white screen presented. It only lasts a few seconds so it’s not too bad but after an hour of playing it can be a bit of a problem.

Still, a good game. I was satisfied overall.

Timeslip

 ★★★☆☆ 

 
Gameplay:★★★☆☆ 
Technical:★★★☆☆ 
Don’t create a time paradox. Bad things happen when you do.

Game: Timeslip | Developer: Smudgedcat

March 1, 2011

Dungeons (Steam Exclusive Edition)

Filed under: Adventure & RPG, Paid, Strategy, WindowsNina S. @ 08:40

I was really excited about playing Dungeons because of the promotional video. They really did it up and did it well. Naturally, I was hoping that the time and effort they seemed to put into the video would be well reflected in the game itself. I went in thinking that if it was even half as good as what they were promising me, I’d be absolutely set.

The basic premise of this game is to be on the other side of the gaming universe. Instead of playing a hero who is traveling through a dungeon and scooping up gold, you’re the demon guy who set up the dungeon and is trying to kill said hero. Only, it’s much more difficult to keep a dungeon in top running condition than you would have thought.

The opening for this game was beautiful. There’s no two ways about it. The rendering was lovely, the voice acting superb, and I love the little things, like the respect for the 4th wall. It really sucks you into the story and allows you to submerge yourself into game play, while still coming up with an easy to understand tutorial.

Now, I did say the tutorial was easy to understand, because it is, but don’t get me wrong. This is a fairly complex game and after two hours of playing I still hadn’t managed to get through the demo. It wasn’t monotony that dragged everything out, here. Instead it was the sheer wealth of “stuff” to do. If I wasn’t clearing walls, or chasing down heroes, I was protecting my dungeon heart, trying to figure out what everything did, and playing with spells. It’s one of those games where you can skate by without trying everything, but you really, really….really want to.

The game is a lot like civilization in the fact that you have to learn to balance everything you have with everything you need. You also need to manage your time well and keep an eye on all of the various points of entry to your dungeon. It’s not easy, trying to expand on one side of the game while figuring out how you’re supposed to guard against heroes and other annoying trespassers, but it’s definitely a good kind of frustration.

Still, even with as much as I enjoyed the game, I didn’t buy it. I realize that the price tag isn’t all that steep for some games, but this is supposed to be an Indie game and I’m a bit wary of spending that much on one. Then again, it’s my understanding that these guys have quite a few popular games out, so maybe this tycoon-style game is a testament to all their glory. A good game, overall, and if I see a good sale I might pick it up.

Dungeons

 ★★★★¼ 

Gameplay:★★★★½ 
Technical:★★★★☆ 
The meat of a dungeon-crawler, without the bone.

Game: Dungeons | Developer: Realmforge Studios

February 11, 2011

Civilization V

Filed under: Linux, Macintosh, Paid, Strategy, WindowsHeath @ 05:08

Go West!

Civilization V

I assume that if you are reading this, you were like me and spent the better part of you childhood hunched in front of the computer, basking in the blue glow while your armies poured onto your rivals’ continents. Yes, Civ II was a glorious game. Civilization V, the most recent iteration, is not quite as glorious, but is still awesome.

Gameplay

In the Civilization games you pilot your rag tag group of settlers into a full fledged, well, civilization. You build cities, research science and, if the mood strikes you, go all Genghis Khan on your enemies.

Civ V has really diverged from its predecessors. For the first part, it is done in hexagons now, rather than squares. You really have to think out your movements and it is way, way more costly to ‘go around’ a unit. On top of that, or maybe, because of that, you are only allowed 1 unit per hex. So, in the past, you could just pile all your armies onto one square and blast into places. No longer. This obviously aids the defense. On top of that, you can now get ranged units (that are actually useful).

Pew Pew Pew!

If you remember religion, from Civ IV, that’s no longer there. You have to deal with your city states, which is kind of annoying. In fact, the biggest difference between this version of Civilization and the others is that war and warmaking plays a significantly lesser role than nearly every other aspect of the game.

There is no longer technology trading. You actually have to deal with your opponents.

Technical

This game takes way less time to complete than the previous versions. Why? You aren’t moving as many units around. Unfortunately, this makes the learning curve slightly higher than for other games. In fact, it may even be harder for previous Civ players to get the hang of the new one.

Multiplayer

Because the movement of units is not really as important, the AI is very centered. I’ve only played 1 multiplayer game, and it was WAY more fun than against AI (unfortunately). You have to co-operate or you’re simply not going to get anywhere. Note that a United Nations win is, without a doubt, impossible if you are playing against real people.

Final Verdict

This game takes up a ton of space, both physically on your computer and emotionally in your head, but it is well worth it. Enjoy taking over the world.

Civilization V

 ★★★★★ 

Gameplay:★★★★★ 
Technical:★★★★★ 
Multiplayer:★★★★★ 
Take over the world!!!!

Game: Civilization V | Developer: Firaxis

February 9, 2011

Mud and Blood 2

Filed under: Free, Linux, Macintosh, Simulation, Strategy, WindowsHeath @ 06:24

Beginning of the Battle

Mud and Blood 2

If that isn’t one of the best names I have ever heard for a video game, then it at least has to be in the top 10. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to hold the Nazi advance. You are going to get overrun. Be prepared.

Gameplay

Although there are lots of actions tied to keystrokes, this is primarily done with your mouse. The first thing that happens is you create a character. You start off as a Second Lieutenant. The more and better you play, the higher in rank you go. The higher in rank you go, the better your starting choices are. When you start, you get a ragtag crew.

You start with some soldiers. Each soldier has a weapon, health and moral. Most soldiers have guns, but you can purchase guys with bazookas and can even get a rocket launcher. No joke, it is awesome.

The more Nazis you kill, and the longer you stay alive, you get Tactical Points. Tactical points can be exchanged for any number of things. You can call in for reinforcements, which is nice because then you can kill more Nazis. You can call in an engineer, which will build things for you. On top of that, you can buy certain maneuvers or upgrade your guys’ weapons.

End of a Battle. The Horror.

Technical

The game ends when you are overrun by 10 Nazis. Note that if a motorcycle with a sidecar passes by, that’s worth two. Also, there’s no pause button. So, once you deploy, you’re committed to playing for a while.

This can get gruesome. If a grenadier lands one in your trench, you will be seeing blood, guts and bones. Your guys will lose moral, and you’re pretty much screwed. For a while you’ll be thinking that you’re doing fine, and then all of a sudden your line is crawling with Nazis.

The Mise en scene impressed me greatly. It’s bleak. On top of that is the depth of the game. You follow the career of your character. The small decisions you make on the battlefield will affect the things you can do later on.

Final Verdict

This game is not for the faint of heart. Seriously, it’s called ‘Mud and Blood’. It is an emotional and temporal commitment. However, if you are looking for an intense, browser-based WWII wargame, then this is the game for you.

Blood and Mud 2

 ★★★★★ 

Gameplay:★★★★★ 
Technical:★★★★★ 
Don’t let the Nazis take over your position.

Game: Blood and Mud 2 | Developer: Blood and Mud 2

January 30, 2011

Weewar

Filed under: Free, Linux, Macintosh, StrategyHeath @ 05:38

A game.

Weewar

Fact: Hex-tile games are for nerds with neckbeards who live in their mom’s basements and come out every weekend to move thingies around for fun.

Actually, that’s a myth. Weewars is a fun, user-friendly game that you can play with little time commitment during the week. It’s not that bad to look at either.

Gameplay

You move your guys around by clicking on them and then clicking on the place where you want them to move. Then, to confirm, you click them again. Any bad guys you can blast appear in red. I honestly don’t understand how combat works at this point. Combat is, however, animated. And the terrain you are standing on affects this.

You get money by occupying bases. From those bases you also build units. You win when you occupy all of your opponents bases. Cool.

A SKULL!

Technical

There’s a lobby where you can choose your games. Yes, there is a ranking system which is based off of your wins/losses as well as how many games you have played. The thing that is really great about this game is that there are very few things that you can screw up.

Also, the game’s introduction does a pretty great job of explaining everything.

Multiplayer

The multiplayer is very well thought out. You choose your opponent and get to work. There is a 24 hour time limit for moves and when it is your turn you get an e-mail.

There is a chat client in the interface, so it’s pretty easy to communicate/heckle your opponent. I’ve found the community to be pretty chill and literate all told, so you don’t have to worry about deciphering the puberty-induced psychotic ramblings of unloved 12-year-olds.

Final Verdict

Great/casual game. You can gave a good time literally dedicating 3 minutes of your day to it. Spend your day mulling over strategy, only to have it blow up in your face when you log back in.

Weewar

 ★★★★★ 

Gameplay:★★★★★ 
Technical:★★★★★ 
Multiplayer:★★★★★ 
Hex-strategy game that’s not for nerds.

Game: WeeWar | Developer: EA2D

January 26, 2011

Dungeon Developer

Filed under: Adventure & RPG, Free, Simulation, Strategy, WindowsJosh @ 04:24

This dungeon might be scary if it wasn't so darned cute.

Nerdook strikes again with Dungeon Developer. This game allows you to run through a dungeon, collect treasure, and ultimately slay the Red Dragon. But here’s the catch: you get to build the dungeon.

You start out with a single floor with an entrance, an exit, and various obstacles scattered about. You have a limited amount of gold to spend on tiles to connect the entrance to the exit, and it’s completely up to you whether you want to try to bypass the obstacles or run your path directly through them. Once you are done building, you get to send a group of explorers through your creation. As this band of heroes progresses through the dungeon, you earn more gold, which you can spend purchasing additional floors and expanding your current floorplans.

You must carefully plan ahead, deciding which obstacles your adventurers pass through and which ones to avoid. If an adventurer passes through a monster, he will engage it in combat. If he wins, he will get additional gold and experience. But if he loses, he will be sent out of the dungeon and will lose gold. There are also traps that just take away HP and money. But the good news is that some tiles contain gems that increase your treasure horde, and chests that contain equip-able items. Getting through the dungeon in the least amount of time requires knowing which obstacles to hit and which ones to avoid. Unfortunately, in later dungeons hitting traps is inevitable.

There are 15 floors in all, and on the 15th is the Red Dragon. You win the game by slaying this dragon. Since every time your heroes run through the dungeon counts as one day, you want to get through in the least amount of days possible. Defeating the dragon in 25 days or less gives you a platinum score.

Of course, the game doesn’t just end when the dragon dies. Once you finish, you are rewarded with a catchy, Nerdook-style song, and an additional game mode: Dungeon Crawl. In this mode, you control a single adventurer who starts at level 0 and gets to explore the dungeon you already built. Your goal is to see how much gold you can collect before you are defeated. Of course, in Dungeon Crawl mode you can’t build anything, because that just wouldn’t be fair.

You can also export your dungeon online to allow other players to send their warriors through it, or import other dungeons and see if you can handle them. True adventurers can beat any dungeon!

Dungeon Developer is just one more amazing game in Nerdook’s ever-expanding universe. If you are already a Nerdook fan, then this game is a must-play. And if you aren’t yet, Dungeon Developer could very well win you over.

It's dragon-slayin' time!

Dungeon Developer

 ★★★★¼ 

Gameplay:★★★★☆ 
Technical:★★★★☆ 
Multiplayer:★★★★★ 
A dungeon crawler that lets you build the dungeons.

Game: Dungeon Developer | Developer: Nerdook

January 23, 2011

Steambirds: Survival

Filed under: Android, Free, Linux, Macintosh, Strategy, WindowsHeath @ 05:31

Run!

Steambirds: Survival

The original Steambirds is a prime contender for ‘best flash game of 2010′. The creators heard our pleas to make the game bigger. And they did.

Gameplay

The basic functions of the game are the same. You click and drag where you want your plane to go during 1 turn. You can control speed and direction. The same ’special’ weapons are available from the last game. However the similarities end there.

For starters, there are no ‘levels’ like the last time. Instead you start with a plane which has a preset amount of special weapons, and you have to survive for as long as possible, hence the name. Trust me, you want to take out the bad guys as quickly as you can, because the waves aren’t determined by how many are remaining, it’s at a preset schedule.

The planes that come in waves are random, and you start off with 3-4 allies that usually take out the first two planes (this is very useful because you probably wouldn’t stand a chance).

GL!

Technical

One thing that’s cool, if not unbelievable, is that every enemy plane that goes down leaves behind a special weapon. While in the previous version, it was worth it to save your specials for just the right moment, in survival, it is in your interest to you use your specials often.

With each feat that you accomplish you get copper. You then trade in copper to get new planes. At some point you have to start using planes multiple times in order to make enough to upgrade. This gets kind of annoying, but you really start to learn how to use the different planes and their weapons.

Final Verdict

All told, I think this was a pretty great ‘upgrade’ of the new game. Although I wish you were allowed to control multiple allies, and I wish you could get into some serious battles. Also, there’s a multiplayer version for the Android OS, but I haven’t tried that out yet. That would be seriously swell.

Steambirds Survival

 ★★★★★ 

Gameplay: ★★★★★ 

Technical: ★★★★★ 

/xrrgroup]
Survive wave after wave of badguy airplanes.

Game: Steambirds: Survival | Developer: Radial Games

December 29, 2010

Demons Took My Daughter

Filed under: Free, Strategy, WindowsJosh @ 16:53

There is quite a traffic jam building up behind that pillar of Dual Blocks.

OK. Nerdook makes awesome games. Remember Zombies Took My Daughter? How about Monster Slayers? Or Vertical Drop Heroes? Well, folks, he’s done it again with Demons Took My Daughter. (Wait, that name sounds familiar!) In this defense game, you must protect your daughter’s stuffed animals from being snatched by demons, while trying to rescue her.

You are not completely defenseless though. You have a gigantic sword (which the character swings automatically whenever demons are near) and a stack of blocks with various powers. These blocks are placed in the path of the demons to hinder their progress as they hover across the level in search of stuffed animals. You must purchase these blocks with souls, which you acquire by slaying demons in each of seven sets of levels (one for each of the seven deadly sins, with pride being the final boss.) You can also go to Splurgatory to spend those special gold souls you earn by clearing a level with a perfect score. And once you finish all seven sets, you unlock a special survival mode in which you must survive 25 waves of demons while bosses come out to turn your hard earned blocks into cheese.  Crazy, right?

Splurgatory is where you buy stuff.

I must admit that I’m a little bit confused about the theology behind this game. The main character is an angel? Who is his daughter then? Why does he have a huge Final Fantasy sword? What use could all these demons possibly have for her stuffed animals? And apparently this all takes place in Hell? I’m guessing this game was designed with a specific motif in mind rather than some unbending bible of lore, so it’s probably better to just not ask those types of questions. It doesn’t have to make sense as long as it’s awesome.

And awesome it is. If you’ve ever played a Nerdook game before, a lot of it will be familiar: the cartoony visual style, the quaint soundtrack, the new twist on familiar genres. This game has everything you’d expect from old Nerdook.

Demons Took My Daughter is a defense game that is more than a bit weird, but still manages to be (dare I say it?) cool as hell.

Aw, cute. Pink demons!

Demons Took My Daughter

 ★★★★☆ 

Gameplay:★★★★☆ 
Technical:★★★★☆ 
A unique defense-style game.

Game: Demons Took My Daughter | Developer: Nerdook

December 19, 2010

Clones

Filed under: Other, Paid, Strategy, WindowsNina S. @ 05:52

I picked up this game called Clones, mostly because I had heard that the developers spent a great deal of time on the project itself. I, being a person whose mind frequently goes from point A to point Q without any explanations to anyone (including myself sometimes), assumed that this would mean that the game itself would be fabulous. I am not sure if I was right but I did enjoy the game, for the most part.

The game art itself is charming. It is kind of a smoother version of 2D, if that makes sense. It is almost 3D but not quite, though it does manage to confuse my eyes into thinking it is every occasionally. The music choices that were made are solid, lending to the overall world building that is the game. Overall, it is a lovely game, aesthetically speaking.

You play as a clone that has the ability to shift into various tools in order to solve and get through puzzles. We are talking about ending up with abilities that allow you to drill, puff, and spin, depending on what you need to get through a particular kind of trap.

Now, I played the single player mode for this game as well as the multiplayer, so let us start with the campaign. The story is interesting. You play as a clone who is trying to gather a medallion. You do this by beating Elder clones in battles of wits, solving puzzles and finally beating them head to head. The puzzles range in difficulty but ultimately they are not impossible if you are willing to take some time to get them.

I would strongly suggest playing through the story before attempting to do any real playing in the multiplayer setting, as you can learn a lot by way of strategy and mechanics through the story mode. Another suggestion would be to get a group of friends to join you while you play. This has the obvious advantages: making sure, you are all on the same level, fun, and good old-fashioned interaction.

This game also boasts a nice bit of level edited content. You can even try your hand at making your own level, but I had more fun just playing around on the levels created by other players than I did anything else.

All in all, this was a good game. The campaign only took me a few hours to finish but afterward there is a lot to do because of the multiplayer option as well as the costume content. I tend to steer away from multiplayer games but this one was a pleasure. Worth looking at.

Clones

 ★★★½☆ 

Gameplay:★★★☆☆ 
Technical:★★★☆☆ 
Multiplayer:★★★★★ 
The magic of the Clonemasters at the tips of your fingers!

Game: Clones | Developer: tomkorp

December 12, 2010

Company of Heroes Online

Filed under: Free, Linux, Macintosh, Strategy, WindowsHeath @ 05:56

Company of Heroes Online

Once More Into the Breach!

I loooooove free stuff. That’s why I write about flash games. I loooove getting awesome games for free, which is why I am practically jumping for joy because of ‘Company of Heroes Online.’ It’s a MMO with the same graphics as the other games. For free.

Gameplay

This is pretty much the same game as the single player games, but you are playing against real live people. You choose between an Axis or Ally team, each of which has its own commander, which you train.

The total gameplay is far beyond the scope of this article, and one of the things that is special about this game is how complex it is. You have to worry about buildings, resources and items. Your men get tired and need to recharge.

You can train different types of commanders each of which has their own ability. Some can call in artillery attacks and stuff like that.

The cool part about this is that you can level up. Yup. A RTS MMO that is based around leveling up and learning new skills and buying new items. Equip these items to your guys to give them abilities.

Get those Nazis!

Technical

This game is a technical masterpiece. Seriously. The original Company of Heroes was released in 2006 and it is widely considered to be one of the best RTS games of all time. Now add the element of a tech tree and multiplayer battles and this game is from another planet.

Although the game is tough to learn, the training missions are in depth. You’ll learn about controlling squads and stuff like that. Seriously, you’ll be able to control armour divisions. ARMOUR DIVISIONS!

The one thing is that you need about 30 gigs of space to install this bad boy. Yeah, this is 2010, but that is still a lot of money.

Multiplayer

Multiplayer is just crazy.  You win when you destroy the other guys’ buildings or reduce their side points to zero. You can play with teams of 4 players, meaning an 8 player mega-battle.

Yes, there is single player mode. BUT, the only way to get better items is to level up by playing multiplayer. Genius.

Final Verdict

Are you kidding me? Remember when you were 12 and you were like, man I want to play that game but it costs too much. Well now you can reach back in time, and show yourself that life is awesome and you can get a 100% free and complete real time strategy game FOR FREE.

Company of Heroes Online

 ★★★★★ 

Gameplay:★★★★★ 
Technical:★★★★★ 
Multiplayer:★★★★★ 
Re-play WWII in the comfort and safety of your own home.

Game: Company of Heroes | Developer: Relic

December 8, 2010

StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty

Filed under: Action & Shooter, Adventure & RPG, Macintosh, Paid, Strategy, WindowsJosh @ 05:09

So much destruction...

If you’re a gamer who hasn’t heard of StarCraft, then you must have been living under a rock since the late 1990s. It’s the game that has so much attention that it’s actually become one of the national sports of South Korea. (I know that sounds like a bizarre internet rumor, but it’s actually a fact.) So when Blizzard decided to make a sequel, you can imagine there was an insane amount of pressure for them to make a superior product.

(In case you haven’t heard of this series, it’s a science fiction real-time strategy game, or RTS, in which you build an economy, then create and command an army to do battle against the armies of other players. If you picture a combination of Risk, Chess, and actual warfare, which takes place on alien planets, includes detailed animations, and does not require players to take turns, you’ll have the most vague idea of the premise behind this game.)

So does StarCraft II hold up to its legacy? Well, yes and no, depending on your perspective. The soldiers are very well balanced, an outstanding feat on Blizzard’s part. There are three races in the game: Terran, Protoss, and Zerg. Each race plays completely different than the others, yet in battles between races, neither side has an unfair advantage. Each race has its own foot soldiers, ground vehicles, and starships, and these units are balanced against each other in an almost rock-paper-scissors manner. So rather than picking the “best” race, you must pick the race that most compliments your playstyle. Any nerdrage comments like, “Not fair! Blizzard needs to nerf such-and-such!” are completely unreasonable. (There may have been a few tiny issues when the game first shipped, but Blizzard was very quick about fixing those with patches. StarCraft II in its current state is very balanced.)

The Protoss ineffectively try to drive back the Terran army. I think this round is pretty much over.

However, many long-term players are disappointed in Turbine’s integration of Battle.net. You cannot play StarCraft II without registering on Battle.net, where your stats will be tracked and your achievements saved. Of course, this means that you are pretty much dependent on an internet connection, even when playing the game offline. (You can play offline, but your achievements are awarded via the Battle.net website. It’s quite possible to miss out on achievements if you decide to play the game without logging in.) And there is no LAN support either, meaning if you want to play against your friends, you’ll have to do it over an internet connection.

Another common gripe is the way leagues are set up. Once you start playing against other players, you will be put into a pool of 100 players. You can move up in rank until you reach higher leagues, but your stats will not be measured against players from other player pools. So even if you are the top-ranked player in your pool, you are probably not the top-ranked player in the game. There is currently no in-game way to measure yourself against every other StarCraft II player, so leaderboards lose a lot of their driving force.

However, whether you love Battle.net and the ranking system or hate them, StarCraft II is still one of the most incredible gaming experiences out there right now. Besides the multiplayer mode (which is honestly the real meat of the game) there is a 29-mission single-player story mode. And the storyline is fantastic. Some of the cinematic cut-scenes will get you craving popcorn and a 48oz cup of soda. Yeah, it’s an almost theatrical experience.

One of my favorite aspects of the game (and admittedly one of the things that drew me toward it in the first place) is the detailed science fiction backdrop. There are far too many impressive background elements to list them all, but among them you’ll find deep canyons full of mist and static lightning, rooftop zones in major cities, and an assortment of otherworldly critters roaming, flying, and swimming about. After hours upon hours of gameplay, I still find myself discovering new holy-crap-that’s-cool, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it flourishes that bring layer after layer of depth the world of StarCraft II.

Bottom line: StarCraft II is a major event in the world of gaming, and, judging by the success of its predecessor, it will be around for a long time. In order to completely avoid it you may have to actually crawl under a rock for the next 10 years. But honestly, why would you want to miss out on this? Do yourself a favor and drop the $60. It’s well worth it for a product of this level of quality with almost infinite replay value.

Oh yes. And if you are just starting out, check out these StarCraft II hints for new players to get an early edge on the competition.

I'm not going to lie. The Zerg gross me out a little bit.

StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty

 ★★★★★ 

Gameplay:★★★★★ 
Technical:★★★★★ 
Multiplayer:★★★★★ 
The spectacular RTS masterpiece.

Game: StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty | Developer: Blizzard

December 5, 2010

Ministry of War

Filed under: Free, Linux, Macintosh, Other, Strategy, WindowsHeath @ 05:27

Sweet Castle

This is one of those browser based MMORPGS that takes place in real time. This one excels in a few key areas, and really brings some good stuff to the table.

Gameplay

You get to choose between 4 civilizations, Chinese, Persians, Romans and Egyptians. Each has its strengths. So choose wisely.

The introduction is great. Probably the best of these on-line browser games actually. Take that for what it’s worth. But seriously, you get money, fame and fortune for doing what Darius says. So do it.

Like most of these games you build houses and buildings and stuff. However, the best comparison that can be made is that this game is like an on-line Age of Empires. There are 5 separate ages that you must progress through, which is accomplished by building certain buildings doing certain things.

You also get Glory (an actual thing) by accomplishing tasks. Like many of these games, you get a souped up character, called a Hero. Protect this dude. You do this by building a barracks and then building guys who hang out with your hero who will kill people for you.

Protect the Village

Technical

Hands down what makes this game top notch is its graphics and its interface. It’s always a treat when a free flash game has awesome graphics. It’s like you’re playing a real video game.

The menus are very intuitive. Usually I have to keep a wiki open in another tab to keep track of what I’m supposed to be doing. Not in this game. No sir. There’s no lag, I haven’t run into anything I would consider a ‘bug.’ I tend to abandon games because I get tired of inputing numbers and not having anything fun to look at.

Multiplayer

As with just about all of these games, mastering the multiplayer is how you stay alive. There are guilds. You guys pool your resources in order to field even bigger and better army.

Spying and plundering is actively encouraged. Don’t hate the player, hate the game.

Final Verdict

Be careful. You could lose an entire year to this thing. Time is our most precious resource. That and water. Actually, children are our most precious resource. Also, this is a great game.

Ministry of War

 ★★★★★ 

Gameplay:★★★★★ 
Technical:★★★★★ 
Multiplayer:★★★★★ 
It’s like Age of Empires. On the Internet. 10 years later.

Game: Ministry of War | Developer: Snail Games

December 3, 2010

Jisei

Filed under: Adventure & RPG, Paid, Strategy, WindowsNina S. @ 05:09

Jisei is made by the same people who make some of the best dating sims I’ve played. Still, don’t get confused. This isn’t really a Dating Sim. Instead this is a mystery game that is dressed up like a Dating Sim. In all honesty it’s pretty inventive. The mechanics for this game are easy to understand and you almost forget how simple they are while you’re playing.

In addition to a great gaming layout, the game is actually interesting itself. You work to solve a mystery as a young man with a rather interesting power. This nameless youth has the incredible ability to relive the death of any body he touches. As odd as this seems it comes in handy…or does it? Our hero finds himself accused of a murder that is suspicious even to someone with his considerable powers. He finds himself acting as the voice of a lost soul.


I was really excited for this game for a number of reasons. First of all you can really tell that it’s high quality. The voice acting is amazing, the backgrounds are spectacular and the character art is just breath taking. It’s impressive right from the get go and doesn’t disappoint once you get inside.

I really loved Jisei, not only because of the great graphics and the consistently interesting storyline, but because it was quite honestly, fun. I don’t usually like mysteries (I like to know what’s going on from the start) but this was a good avenue for them to take. I was genuinely interested in the characters and I honestly wanted to know what happened.


A good percentage of games like this and the ones on Sake Visual are free to play. This one, however, has a pretty decent price tag. At first I was a little wary of buying a game from an Indie company with no publisher but I’m glad i got over my concerns. The game costs money because it’s worth it.

Jisei is a very pretty game but I wouldn’t say that it’s just for women, not this one. It’s a good, solid mystery and you’ll have to pay attention if you want to get the most out of it. I would recommend this game to anyone who likes to think while the play and who enjoys beautiful scenes and exquisite work.

Jisei

 ★★★★★ 

 
Gameplay:★★★★★ 
Technical:★★★★★ 
A murder-mystery with a twist!

Game: Jisei | Developer: Sake Visual

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