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Multiplayer Game Reviews

May 4, 2011

Desktop Dungeons

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Desktop Dungeons

 ★★★☆☆ 

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

Game: Desktop Dungeons | Developer: QCF Design

April 23, 2011

Din’s Curse: Demon War

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Din’s Curse: Demon War

 ★★★★☆ 

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

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

April 22, 2011

Din’s Curse

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

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

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

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

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

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

Din’s Curse

 ★★★★☆ 

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

Game: Din’s Curse | Developer: Soldak Entertainment

April 13, 2011

Sprout

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sprout

 ★★★½☆ 

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

Game: Sprout | Developer: Custom Logic

April 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 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 13, 2011

Corporation Inc

Filed under: Free, Linux, Macintosh, Simulation, WindowsHeath @ 05:48

Excelsior

Corporation Inc.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to build a button pushing company from the ground to a multi-level, money earning machine. You do this by hiring, upgrading and not-sucking.

Gameplay

If you’ve played SimTower, this will seem familiar. However, there are some crucial differences. First, you place offices that are blank slates. Each office has 4 slots, each slot holds an employee. You click a certain employee from the menu and place him at a desk.

Your basic employee is a worker. A worker presses a button. At the base level, every time he presses a button, you get a dollar in revenue. Now, you can hire a supervisor who walks around, smacking workers in the head. After that the worker works harder. Now, if you want to leverage that money, then you can hire some accountants. Each one earns 5% more per push of each worker.

workworkworkworkworkwork

Would you imagine that getting hit on the head would improve moral? No, it doesn’t. You have to worry about your workers’ happiness. For every 20 employees, you get a cat. Cats improve happiness. You can also buy HR employees that do something or something.

You’ll also need to hire janitors and researchers. Janitors clean during the night so your employees don’t get mad. Researchers, well, research. The game technically ends when you have completed the tech tree. So, yeah, invest in reasearchers.

Technical

Beyond the placing of employees this is a pretty complex game. You can upgrade office space. On top of that you have to worry about transportation (you can install a firepole or a skyhook or even a vacuum tube). Unlike SimTower there isn’t a limited # of elevator shafts so go crazy. Seriously you can have tubes right next to each other. You can’t see anything though so I wouldn’t recommend that.

In the end, this game is all about balance. You can even show off your towers to other people. You know what I found out from that? All towers look alike and are boring.

Final Verdict

Great game. It has a pause button and you can change time so this really feels like you are god. Enjoy it because it makes businessing seem like it is really easy.

Corporation Inc

 ★★★★★ 

Gameplay:★★★★★ 
Technical:★★★★★ 
{GAME COMMENT}

Game: Corporation Inc | Developer: JCooney

March 8, 2011

Uncharted Waters Online

I'm looking for a quest!

Uncharted Waters

If you are from East Asia, then you have probably heard of and lost your life to this game. If you are from the West, you have probably been waiting to dedicate your life to sailing around in a boat.

Gameplay

Uncharted Waters takes place during the Age of Exploration; when real men sewed jewels into their frocks, women were earthy and children had grease on their faces. In this game you can adventure, be a soldier or trade.

Although it’s boat based, there are sea-areas, land-areas and towns. You can also choose to be English, Dutch, French, Spanish, Portuguese or Venician. You also get to choose whether they are adventurer, merchant or a soldier. These classes aren’t binding, but it’s going to be a hassle if you want to change them.

Like in Civilization, each nation has its own perks, I won’t go into them, but there is a fair amount of similarity between the real life versions and the on-line versions.

Better luck next time sucker!

You click where you want to move. Double clicking turns your ship in a certain direction. Like all good MMORPG’s there is an area where you can accept quests. Once you finish them, you report back and collect your reward. If you’re too far away, you can get a female to report back for you, which is suh-weeeeeet.

Technical

This game was first released in 1995 (the normal version) and has been On-line since 2005 in Asia. It is only this year that us stinking Americans had access to it. Honestly, you can’t tell that we’re half a decade behind. The arena is sprawling, and, although you can take quests and stuff, you’re on your own for most of it.

It’s smooth and the controls are super easy. Seriously, I am almost always stymied by basic controls, and I had no problem here. It’s not too bad to look at either.

Multiplayer

Yes, there is PVP. PVP is awesome. Seriously, it’s boat battles. You can outfit your boat to ram other people.

You can also trade, and there is a chat client that is pretty slick. You don’t really need to be on a team or be part of an alliance to make it in this game. Like a rake in the ages of yor, you can stake your claim in the open ocean, feel the wind in your hair and bask in the ethereal glow of pixelated piratical bliss.

Uncharted Waters Online

 ★★★★★ 

Gameplay:★★★★☆ 
Technical:★★★★★ 
Multiplayer:★★★★★ 
Boat MMORPG in the time of the Renaissance.

Game: Uncharted Waters Online | Developer: KOEI

February 13, 2011

Poker Night at the Inventory

Filed under: Macintosh, Other, Paid, Puzzle & Casual, Simulation, WindowsJosh @ 07:23

These are your opponents.

Say that someone asked you, “Would you want to sit down for some poker at a very exclusive club with Max from Sam & Max, Strong Bad from Homestar Runner, The Heavy Weapons Guy from Team Fortress 2, and Tycho Brahe from the Penny Arcade webcomic?” If your response was an enthusiastic “Yes!” then I have some good news for you.

Poker Night at the Inventory is a game that allows you to do just that. It begins with you buying into a high-stakes game of Texas Hold ‘Em, and doesn’t end until you either bust out or manage to win the whole shebang.

The characters’ poker playing styles tend to match their personalities. Max and Strong Bad are erratic, and commonly make huge bets for no apparent reason. Tycho often plays too conservatively, with a tendency to fold instead of placing risky bets. The Heavy Weapons Guy, or “the Heavy,” is much harder to read. Sometimes he’ll play aggressively, going all in with only a royal high card, yet other times he’ll fold when he has a fairly decent hand. I can’t tell if he doesn’t know what he’s doing, or if it’s some elaborate card shark fake-out. Looking at the guy, I would say the former, but considering the fact that he so often wins, I think he’s actually onto something.

Let's just say that Max is the wild card.

I’ve played plenty of poker games in my life, both real and video game versions, and I’ve noticed that on medium, I tend to wind up with an unrealistic amount of good hands. I’ve played straights and flushes more times than I can count, and full houses tend to pop up pretty regularly. In the early rounds of the game, I tend to win a lot. But hard difficulty is an entirely different experience. Hard feels a lot more like your opponents are actually thinking about what they’re doing, and you won’t be blessed with such “golden hands” all the time.

But playing poker isn’t really what this game is about. It’s really more of an excuse to hang out with all of these guys in one place. They constantly chatter back and forth and make comments on the way the game is progressing. In fact, it’s easy to get caught up in conversation and completely forget about the poker.

As an additional incentive to download this inexpensive title, you can play for bonuses that actually transfer to exclusive in-game items in Team Fortress 2.

Poker Night at the Inventory doesn’t really offer anything new other than the chance to hang out with some oddball video game (and comic strip) characters for a while, but it still manages to be a pretty enjoyable experience. It’s well worth the small price tag, especially if you own Team Fortress 2.

I can't tell if the Heavy is terrible at poker, or incredibly good at it.

Poker Night at the Inventory

 ★★★¾☆ 

Gameplay:★★★½☆ 
Technical:★★★★☆ 
A game of poker against some celebrities of the video game scene.

Game: Poker Night at the Inventory | Developer: Telltale Games

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

February 3, 2011

Endeavor

Where to now?

Endeavor

Sometimes it seems like the platformer is a limited medium. You jump around in a 2D environment and you either have to blast enemies while conserving ammo, or you solve problems. Endeavor challenges that notion.

Gameplay

There is nothing special about the controls. Arrow keys move and climb. X jumps. Remain calm. You’ll notice that there is a blue bar at the top of the screen. You’ll also notice that whenever you jump, that blue bar shrinks. Well, that thing represents your endurance. You can only jump so many times before you run out of steam. Your endurance (as well as jump height) can be increased by running into sweet little flowers.

Quite honestly, all you can really do in this game is wander around until you have exhausted your limits. There are certain places that you can’t escape without leveling up enough, and there are certain spots where, if you screw up, you fall to the bottom of the screen. Brutal.

Thanks a lot buddy.

All told, you are a mountain dwarf who is searching for treasure after your father has died. Along the way you will run into others of your species, who rarely help you. This is a journey you must make on your own.

Technical

This game obviously has a retro-styling to it. However, with many games that use the 8-bit background, you are not slapped in the face by it. Often times, you feel contained by it. Not so in this case. The sense of scope that is achieved by this game is simply astounding. And sometimes you have to sit back, after jumping and climbing mountains and revel in how far you’ve piloted your little guy.

You all know I am a fan of developers who can build ‘big’ games with simple engines. This is a paradigm.

Final Verdict

Great game. It is casual, but you will find yourself hooked right from the get-go. You’ll want to get over that pass. You’ll want to meet the next surly dwarf. You’ll revel in the muted pastels. Enjoy.

Endeavor

 ★★★★★ 

Gameplay:★★★★☆ 
Technical:★★★★★ 
A dwarf copes with the loss of his father. By searching for treasure.

Game: Endeavor | Developer: Zillix

February 1, 2011

The Dream Machine – Chapter 1

Filed under: Free, Macintosh, Paid, Puzzle & Casual, WindowsJosh @ 05:02

How did a map get inside a fish?

The Dream Machine is a current work in progress by Cockroach Inc., the same guys who brought you Gateway and Gateway II. (Click the links to see reviews.) Similar to the Gateway games, this is a point-and-click adventure that has you solve puzzles to progress though a story. And just like Gateway II (not the first Gateway so much), The Dream Machine has a very intriguing storyline with eerie undertones. It begins on a desert island in the middle of absolute nowhere. After finding a map inside of a fish which leads to a buried alarm clock, Victor (the main character) awakes in the apartment he has just moved into. He blames the weird dream on a painting above the bed, but he can’t seem to shake it. On top of this dream-induced haze he finds himself in, he also discovers the remains of a mysterious note from the previous tenant, offering a bit of a warning about this place.

You must guide Victor as he searches for clues in his new apartment building while doing chores for his wife and trying to get the place settled. Along the way you’ll meet an interesting cast of characters, each with a unique personality and usually a mysterious back story. However, this is only the first chapter in much larger game, and you won’t get all of these characters figured out this early in the story.

It's the first morning in a new apartment.

Cockroach Inc. decided on quite an interesting distribution method for The Dream Machine. The first chapter is free, but following chapters will require a small fee. Chapters will also be available for pre-order for a discounted price. It seems like a great idea, since this first chapter is so intriguing, players will find themselves dying to know what happens next.

The look of the game is absolutely brilliant. All of the settings were made out of “clay and cardboard” (in the words of the developers) and have a dark, ugly-in-a-beautiful-way, artsy sort of vibe to them. The background music has an ominous tone to it (besides Mr. Morton’s jazz music) and will keep you in the right frame of mind for enjoying this piece of work.

The Dream Machine is a wonderful piece of art that needs to be experienced by all point-and-click enthusiasts. Hop on over to the Dream Machine website to begin your adventure!

Oh yes, and you can follow the progress of The Dream Machine on the official Facebook page here, which has news updates, concept art, and even sneak peeks at what the developers are putting into the next chapter of the game.

Mr. Morton. I'm pretty sure this guy is creepy.

The Dream Machine

 ★★★★½ 

Gameplay:★★★★☆ 
Technical:★★★★★ 
A claymation point-and-click puzzler with memorable characters and an intriguing storyline.

Game: The Dream Machine | Developer: Cockroach Inc.

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 29, 2011

Sneaky Sniper

Filed under: Action & Shooter, Free, Macintosh, Other, Windowslewiscsdoe @ 05:10

Sniper Assassin has set the standard for all web based sniper games. There is a new one on the scene and to be honest it does a pretty good job of trying to match the SA series.

Sneaky sniper follows the same basic set of characteristics that made SA popular in the first place. The stick figures mean the game engine does not take forever to load, and this combined with pretty basic terrain and backgrounds makes for a very fast paced game.

Control is very simple, you move the scope around with your mouse and when you are confident that you have the right target you click to fire. The scope is not small, which is often a problem in sniper based games, and you can see plenty of what is going on in each level.

Use the mouse to move the scope over your targets

The levels work in a very simple way. You are given a clear brief at the start of each that tells you what you must or must not do to qualify for the next mission. Follow these instructions to the letter and you will quickly fly through the game. If you fail then you can have another go but you shouldn’t really because the lay out and design of each level is so basic.

The only problem is that there is no developed story line, which made the SA series popular. However, had this been included then the similarities may have been too similar and this would have taken emphasis away from the individuality of the game.

There is no annoying soundtrack, which you quite often get with action based shooting games. However, there is a gap for it in this game. The levels are really basic, which can make the game get quite boring and an upbeat and good track would help move things along.

Take out targets quickly before they can react

All in all Sneaky Sniper is a pretty good attempt at a sniper based web game. If you’re bored of work or revision then this is a great game. It will take your mind off of other things and keep you occupied for a good number of levels.

Sneaky Sniper

 ★★★☆☆ 

Gameplay: ★★★☆☆ 

Technical: ★★★☆☆ 

Sniper Assassin’s little brother

Game: Sneaky Sniper http://www.addictinggames.com/sneaky-sniper-game.html | Developer: Sniping Games http://www.snipinggames.net/

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