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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 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 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 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 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 9, 2011

Homefront

Filed under: OtherLucjan @ 05:01

Homefront….Homefront.. Oh, where to begin. Should I mention how it feels rushed? Or how the story doesn’t really have a beginning, it just happens? You know, one day you wake up and there’s angry North Koreans killing your neighbors and they throw you on a bus. Then you, the undescribed, unexplained random guy they pull out of a house is somehow supposed to save the day by nearly being killed by the people that save you, but then you pick up a gun and you’re like Rambo. Sure, it doesn’t matter that at this point you probably have a concussion and couldn’t tell the right side of the rifle from the end of your own arm, you wield that thing like a pro.

Alright, maybe I’m being too harsh about the story. But I just didn’t like it. In fact, nobody I talked to actually liked the story. It seems like they spent entirely too much money hiring the guy to write the story and not nearly enough money on actually making sure he wrote a good one. Then again, I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised. This is the same guy who wrote Red Dawn and Apocalypse Now. Wait a minute…I should be surprised. Those movies were actually good.

Graphics are kinda bland.

Anyway, enough about that. The graphics on the whole aren’t that bad, but they’re not fantastic either. Nothing was really eye-popping. There’s a significant lack of environmental damage compared to other modern shooters. And the whole shanty-town environment that seems to have sprung up overnight just doesn’t make the game feel believable. There was less obvious squalor in Left 4 Dead 2, and that game is about a zombie infestation.

Multiplayer isn’t all that bad though. It’s pretty fun, on the level of a cross between Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and Call of Duty: Black Ops. But overall I was unimpressed with the game. I think a good part of that came from something seeming to be very lacking in the sound department. None of the noise really caught my attention, it just blended into the background. Overall, I’d call it a rental. Not bad for its multiplayer aspect, but not worth buying.

Multiplayer

Homefront

 ★★½☆☆ 

Gameplay:★★½☆☆ 
Technical:★★½☆☆ 
Multiplayer:★★½☆☆ 
So so.

Game: Homefront | Developer: THQ

April 7, 2011

Zen of Sudoku

Filed under: Girl's Choice, Other, Paid, Puzzle & Casual, WindowsNina S. @ 05:10

Zen of Sudoku is what all Sudoku games should be.

After writing that sentence I really wanted to pack this review in and call it a day but I didn’t think my bosses would like it. Seriously, though, it says everything you need to know about Zen of Sudoku. I suppose there’s a chance that you don’t know much about Sudoku in the first place, so I guess I’ll explain that and why this game is wonderful.

Sudoku is a game about lines and blocks. Take a look at the pictures on this review. You’ll see that there are nine squares big squares, which have nine smaller squares in them. Sudoku is a puzzle in which you are given some set numbers in those blocks and you have to fill in the rest. You fill them so that every line and larger block only has one of the available numbers, which are 1-9. You win the game when you have the entire board filled with numbers, with no repeats on any lines horizontally, in one big square, or vertically.

The game is meant to be a challenge but mostly, it’s relaxing. It’s a puzzle that kind of puts you in the mood for a nap, but in a good way. You’re using your mind, working that muscle but you’re also strengthening your mental capabilities.

Zen of Sudoku is everything you’d expect from a good Sudoku game because it’s calming at the same time as challenging. You play the game on a backdrop of soothing sounds and soft music. It sets you up to learn and expand your mind.

Obviously, this isn’t a game for anyone who doesn’t like Sudoku. That’s all it is, after all. On the other hand, if you do like it or are even just interested in trying it out, this is a cheap and easy way to learn. The game has several different levels and the learning curve is nice and realistic. There are even hints if you get stuck that will tell you what numbers you should be focusing on or if you have something down that isn’t correct. All in all, this is a great game. You can pick up a new, beneficial pastime and spend a few hours actually bettering your thinking abilities. Also, there are pretty pictures. And who doesn’t love pretty pictures when playing a video game for a few hours?

Zen of Sudoku

 ★★★★¾ 

 
Gameplay:★★★★½ 
Technical:★★★★★ 
Stillness. Work.

Game: Zen of Sudoku | Developer: Unknown Worlds

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

April 1, 2011

Cityville

Filed under: Free, Girl's Choice, Macintosh, Other, Puzzle & Casual, WindowsNina S. @ 04:12

If you spend any time at all on Facebook I have no doubt that you’ve heard of Cityville. It’s an extremely popular game and if you’re not willing to block it you probably get tons of insistent invites from it. I like Facebook games. Well, I like to try them. I’m pretty picky and with the plethora of games offered I feel like I should only dedicate any of my time to the really good ones. If you’re like me you might not be willing to jump into the game head first. Well, here is a review to help you decide if Cityville is the kind of game you’d like.

Now, right from the beginning, let me go ahead and say this. Cityville has a lot of the faults that can be annoying with the typical Facebook game. You  have a set amount of energy and once it’s gone, you’re stuck. You have to wait for it to fill up or buy/accumulate energy packs to continue your game. There is a lot of lag in the game, though it’s manageable. Also, it’s one of those games where you really do need friends. You need them to send you crap, you need them to set up buildings, you need them for everything. This is my biggest complaint because I use my Facebook for family and friends. I don’t want to have to invite twenty strangers to our inner circles in order to play a game.

Even with that being said, of those kinds of games, this is probably one of the best. You’re not just sitting around pushing one button and “leveling up.” Instead, this game takes all of the best aspects of the bigger name social games and adds into one big game. You can farm, decorate, build up your city, and gather money. It has quests and is updated frequently. Besides that, if you’re not too annoyed by the system, there are millions of people playing this game. If it’s not in the top three played games I’d be surprised. So, there is a big pool of people to pull from, if you need more people in your game.

Cityville is a good game. I’ll say that. It’s a good place to go for a while every day and burn hours. It’s a game that’s easy to get addicted to, which may or may not be a good thing, but it’s fun. If you’re willing to look pass the standard annoyances, it’s the cream of the crop.

Cityville

 ★★★¾☆ 

 
Gameplay:★★★½☆ 
Technical:★★★★☆ 
Facebook game, for better and worse.

Game: Cityville | Developer: Zynga

March 24, 2011

Dragon Age II

Filed under: Adventure & RPG, Other, Paid, Playstation, Windows, XBoxTaylorLF @ 04:05

To be honest, Dragon Age II (DA2) took me by surprise. When I played Dragon Age: Origins (DA:O) back in 09, I was glad that we received another RPG in a gaming community that is more accustomed to fast paced, adrenaline filled action games. So naturally, to me, the sequel would improve on the first game. They did, and they didn’t. DA:O was built for the PC gaming crowd, while it’s console partners (Xbox 360 and Playstation 3) had to adjust to its’ more strategic combat, using a variety of camera angles and pausing to issue orders in order to get through more of the games challenging moments. DA2 was built towards the console gamers, a move that many PC gamers were not happy with. They stripped a lot of what made DA:O an RPG and turned it into an Action-RPG. For those who played Mass Effect 1 & 2, you’ll get the comparison. For those of you who have not played any of the games listed here, think of it like the old Star Wars trilogy compared with the new. Sure, everything “fits” in the same story sense, but you can’t just nudge past the feeling that something was traded away from what it was to make it more acceptable. It just feels wrong. If you have not played any of the games and did not watch any of the movies to get the comparison, then I just don’t know.

The game play is, for lack of a better word, streamlined. The world seems small, the giant city of Kirkwall seems sparse, and the locations you can visit become very familiar. Dungeon layouts re-use the same layouts, blocking off doors not in use that they would be in other quests. The same three classes are there for you to pick from; Warrior, Mage, and Rogue, with a variety of companions filling the gap. Combat has been simplified. There are barely any separate camera angles, just enough to get a very small overhead view, mostly you’ll be looking at your characters back. Unless you’re playing on a high difficulty, there’s very little need for strategy. The most strategic thing you can do with the combat at early points, and almost a need in higher difficulties is cross-class combos. Various skills cause one of three different effects based on your class, and other classes can use a skill that exploit that. For instance, a rogue uses a skill that disorients a target, a warrior can use another skill that causes 4 times the regular damage against the disoriented target but gets rid of it so it can’t be exploited continually. What this does though is makes the game feel more fluid during combat. It’s a trade off.

Customization takes a bit of a back seat as well. You can customize your main character however you wish, except you must be a human. Changing your style past the first few presets also changes how your family looks as well. The preset for both the male and female Hawke though are fairly well done if you aren’t the customizing type. You can change everything about your companion’s equipment except their armor, and to some lesser extent their weapons. Some do well with a new weapon, others never get replaced. Their appearance is what you get. The only exception here is when you finish a relationship with one of the companions you can romance, then their outfit changes to a separate one. It’s only for that one person though and if you don’t like the change, too bad. Instead of refitting your companions with new armor, you find upgrades in a variety of places; shops, crates and barrels, quests. The upgrades ranged anywhere from more armor, stats, or adding a rune slot where you can place an enchantment. The further blow to customization happens in the skill trees. You receive two companions who are warriors, three if you included yourself if you decided your main character will be a warrior. You can make any of them a tank by using a sword and shield. The problem is, only one of them is suited to be a tank since each companion has a personal skill tree. It -can- work with the other one or yourself since all three can pick up the sword & shield tree, but know one person can do it better since their personal tree is dedicated to making them a tank. The real bothersome thing is if you need a healer, you really only get one option since only one of your mages gets the tree to heal. If you dislike that person as a companion, or goes against what you’re playing as, then you either shelf them and go without a healer or be annoyed and deal with it.

The story, for what it is, is good. It delves into the politics of a city, paranoia, group oppression, and betrayal. The story is actually being told through one of your companions over three acts, who is being interrogated as to the main character’s (your) location. Each act ends and starts with your companion telling his interrogators what happened during the time you left off. Explaining why you disappeared and why this particular group is looking for you delves into the late story and is spoiler filled so just know that things blow up in an important way. The only thing that bothered me is that for all the choices you seem to be given, little matters. You can import your old DA:O save to have some minor tie-ins, but it effects little overall. Only a few things actually happen, story wise. The rest is maybe passed by in a line of text.

The sound I can’t comment much on because it didn’t really stick out to me. The voice acting is well done. As far as the ambient soundtrack goes, I actually could not tell you off the top of my head because I honestly can’t remember if the city or the other areas even had music. It was that subdued. The battle music suits fighting fine, but unfortunately mine was bugged at the time of playing (as were others judging from their forum) where the battle music only cuts in for a second and the rest of the time is just a high pitched echo playing. I know what it sounds like though and it is nice, shame I didn’t get to hear it actually in my game though opposed to having to find it outside of it.

The graphics are fairly good, even on lower settings the game looks nice so that’s a plus for those who can’t run it very high. They aren’t mind blowing but they’re modern, so you wouldn’t feel like you’re playing a game a few years back.

Overall, Dragon age II is a great game. Despite my personal feelings about the switch in gameplay, I can see what they were going for and making it a bigger market on the consoles and that’s just business. I enjoyed the game, and currently running it through a second time. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys RPGs, action or traditional based. Just if you’re coming in from the first game keep an open mind and enjoy it for what it is, not what we might’ve expected/wanted. Change keeps the industry alive, and we have to roll with it.

Dragon Age II

 ★★★★☆ 

Gameplay:★★★★☆ 
Technical:★★★★☆ 
Dragon Age II changes the formula enough to cause a stir between PC gamers and console gamers, but pushes out a good game nonetheless.

Game: Dragon Age II | Developer: Bioware

March 18, 2011

Death

Filed under: Other, Paid, Puzzle & Casual, XBoxNina S. @ 07:49

Death was an interestingly simple game. I was not really expecting much, thanks to the simple cover and lack of any screenshots or description but overall I did not mind playing it for a little while.

Upon starting the game, I was a little surprised at the lack of art. With a title like “Death”, I expected at the very least a skull or some creepy coffins. Instead, you are launched into a game with little to no fluff or frills. Luckily, the game play itself is pretty straightforward.

You find yourself watching button prompts flash before the screen. It appears that you are lying on your back, maybe on an old operation table or some kind of interrogation table, staring up at a ceiling of lights. You are then prompted to press buttons. Your heartbeat (a fairly generic rhythmic sound) speeds up, as do he prompts and rotation of the buttons on the screen. They begin in their respective places on the controller, Y, X, A, and then B and slowly begin moving around so that you have to use your memory of where they are situated in order to keep up with the game. Basically, the entire game is about hand eye coordination. The bright light that flashes in your eyes when you make a mistake is not very helpful but overall the game is just that.

Now, I have no doubt that a game like this would get very old, real fast. I could not get my husband, who describes his gaming level as “casual core” to play it more than a few rounds because it “isn’t much of a game.” This tells me that it might be a little too simple for anyone who is used to a little more stimulus, but for someone like me…well, I enjoyed it.

Granted, I imagine that something like this could not be that complicated to set up for a developer. In addition, as there is no story there is really nothing more to it than mindless button mashing fun. But, so what? The game does not try to be anything more than what it is and while it is not going to hit a lot of homeruns, it did okay in my book.

Death

 ★★☆☆☆ 

 
Gameplay:★★☆☆☆ 
Technical:★★☆☆☆ 
A near-death experience.

Game: Death | Developer: ZebraGames

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/

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

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