Thursday, June 30, 2011

God of War


Hokay so...

I've been putting off writing about my gaming adventures for a while, because I'm not really sure WHAT to write. But, I'm gonna give it a shot, and try not to sound less awesome than I am.

I FINALLY sat down and played the first game in the God of War series. A bunch of different people have been telling me that I should play these games for a very long time, and I just brushed them off like it was no big deal, and that I wasn't missing anything by NOT playing them. I was SUPER wrong.

Maybe I just didn't realize that this is a pretty typical platformer, with a bit of quick time stuff thrown in, or I just didn't want to believe what other people were telling me: OHMAHGAWD THIS GAME IS FANTASTIC.

I really enjoyed everything about this game. I mean, the story was fantastic, the puzzle element to it was challenging at times and made me want to rage-quit (but I kept going), and since i played the game in the "God of War Collection," even the visuals were updated, and made me happy.

There weren't many things I didn't like about the game. Like I said, there were a few times where the puzzle solving made me want to Hulk-smash my PS3, and I can recall a few fights (not even Boss-fights) that I got really frustrated with... (stupid dog things... *grumble grumble*) But overall, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Mind you, it DID take me a really long time to get around to beating the game *coughsixmonthscough*, but hey, I have a buttload of other games that I've been working on at the same time.

OH! I did also find probably the GREATEST bug in a game. EVER.
So I was in this big room, minding my own business (you know, hunting for relics and the like) and I got attacked by a shit-ton of harpies. So I'm like "alright, let's do this," and proceed with slicing and dicing them. I'm doing this for a while, and suddenly I notice that one of them gets stuck in the wall, and is spewing out the red orbs that level up all your spells and moves. I walk over to it, and let the orbs flow into me, while every now and then waving my blades a little bit to the side as another harpy foolishly darts towards me. This went on for a good 5 minutes before the harpy got un-stuck and I killed it. I was pleased.

For lack of being able to remember stuff, I'm gonna be done with this now. All in all though, fantastic game, and I'm pretty pumped to start playing the other ones... someday.


Monday, June 27, 2011


Machinarium is an adorable click-exploration indie game by Amantia Design. A lot of the time, it can get absolutely frustrating. I would consider this more... interactive art than a videogame. Which, I suppose, a lot of click-exploration games are. If you haven't ever played one, its a lot of just clicking in random places until something happens. For the most part, you can get through the levels by looking around and using logic to figure out what you need to do in order to accomplish your goal. However, sometimes you just need to walk around and click on stuff. Its adorable, both in story and art. If anything, buy it to give support to Indie Gamers. $20 well spent. And, if you're not sure you want to buy it, there are 3 levels worth of free trial to give it a go. Oh yes, and the soundtrack is quite spectacular. Play it here.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Half Minute Hero

RATING : [3/10]

I'm not really in the mood for writing, so I'm not going to spend a lot of time talking about this game.

I needed a game to keep me occupied for the 3 days I had to wait for Zelda OOT to come out, without being too engrossing that it would distract me once it did.  With a name like 30 Second Hero, I figured it was my best shot. 

It only took me a day or two to beat the first 3 "Games".  I didn't play any further past that, so I only have opinions on those 3.

I like the way they set this up. 30 seconds to grind into a powerful hero and beat the boss. Each battle is just a quick jaunt from one side of the screen to the other, sword flailing, taking down enemies on your way, so its pretty quick.Then, its game over, move on.  The credits even roll after each level, giving the illusion that you'd beaten a game in 30 Seconds.  Thankfully, you can speed through the credits so they don't get too terribly annoying. Each level also has a couple 'achievements', and there are some forks in the level paths, both which encourage more than one playthrough. Unfortunately, I got bored with the story and didn't spend much time on it.  They were kind enough to let hitting 'start' travel through everything at lightning speed. I don't feel like I missed too much not paying attention to the story, but it makes me a little sad that all that work was defenestrated.

Evil Lord:
By far my favorite one. If someone wasn't going to play this game, I'd at least coax them into the Evil Lord story. The Evil Lord gameplay is quite fun, similar to the first game in that you have 30 seconds, but different because instead of an uncontrollable sword flailing battle system, you're required to apply a little bit of tactics to your 30 second venture. Its a rock-paper-scissors summoning game between brutes, archers, and nimble types. Summon what you need and complete your objective as quickly as possible.  But this isn't what makes this bit the best. HE does.  The evil lord is a deliciously hilarious character that reminds me of something from some anime that I can't remember. He is vain, silly, and an absolute delight. I read every bit of story for this one, because it was so very worth it. It was also shorter than hero, and therefore felt lest repetitive.

Got bored. Super bored. The story was boring (though it did have a couple funny parts) and the gameplay felt incomplete and not very thought out.  Its a topdown sidescrolling shooter.  Unfortunately, though shooters have a tenancy to be wonderfully difficult, this one did not follow suit. You could run into just about everything and fail to shoot most of the targets and still win. I wasn't trying most of the game because I was bored, and still managed to get through it without failing any levels.  The levels were incredibly repetitive and I didn't really like the main character... I dunno. I just didn't like this section.

Well, that's all of them. I rambled quite a bit more than I meant to. 
The game has a lot of content, and they did a pretty good job. I'll definitely visit the game from time to time while I'm bored. It's easy to pick up and put down. And I love the Evil Lord.

[TLDR] The Evil Lord story makes the game worth playing. By a long shot.


Saturday, June 18, 2011


RATING : [4/10]

I love this game. It's so adorable.

I started playing it a long time ago, but gave up pretty quickly because, as it turns out, I have terrible rhythm. 
I mean, I suppose I could be worse. I could at least keep a constant stream of commands going; they weren't standing around telling me about how they want to go home...  very often...
I just wanted to keep the fever going through the whole level, and couldn't do it very often. I did a couple times... and it was rare that it took me less than all 10 rounds to get the fever... oh well. Like I said, I could have been worse.

Anyways, Patapon is a real time RTS Rhythm game. Weird right? But AWESOME.
I'm very impressed at the fusion of gametimes that Patapon brings to the table. You are the Patapons' God, and you command them in battle using a 4 beat code, played out by 3 different drums. A different sequence of drums executes a different battle command. If you don't execute the commands in decent rhythm, the patapons just stand there and look at you like you're kicking a puppy.

You have basic battle tactic moves at your disposal: advance, attack, dodge, defend, and charge (and by charge i mean 'build energy' not 'rush forward'). You also have a few different types of armies from which you choose 3 for each level. As for classes, you basically have archers, lancers, warriors, brutes, cavalry, and bards. (Though, in this game, the bards are actually heavy damagers, not buffers)  You have to create each man in your army, and within each of those classes is... i think... 7 different types of patapons. A normal patapon, and 6 specials, all that have a different effect on your army and require items you aquire from hunting in order to create. 

Aside from having to chose which types of patapons you want to take into each battle, all of the strategy lies in the moment, and can be absolutely frustrating.  While it's similar to many boss fights in other games as far as memorizing what they do, and manipulating the character(s) to counter it, its different because you have a delay, AND you might not be in sequence.  The game plays in rounds: you have 4 beats to give the command, and then they spend the next 4 executing it.  If the monster attacks you while you're giving the command, it does no good, and then your patapons are defending against an attack that already came and went. So, timing brings a level of frustration (the good kind) that further promotes how well the game integrated rhythm and strategy to be a new breed of game.

The art also made me happy =) Its adorable.
Very simple, but also very elegant. Sometimes with simple 2d games, I get the feeling like the art gets lazy... however, this was just pretty. The color schemes were well put together, wonderful use of color and patterns... and even though they reused the bosses twice, with minor modifications, it didn't bother me.

[TLDR] The game was unique, well thought out and balanced, very aesthetically pleasing, and very very fun.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011


RATING : [2/5]

I'm very rapidly running out of games to play.
A fair amount of the games I've purchased here have turned out to be Japanese/Korean copies, which is an unfortunate gamble when you buy a game here.  I decided to give this one a shot. No idea what it was about or what kind of game it was, just something I snagged at the market.

I didn't get very far, but I'm not going to commit the blame to the fact that it was a bad game.  It didn't hook me, but I might finish the game later.  I only got so far as to get the general idea of the gameplay.

The story presented actually seems like it could be interesting if they execute it properly.  Basically, earth has degraded via global warming to the point of the US being split down the middle by flooded waters. The two sides develop different sets of beliefs and ways to evolve to handle the planet's condition. One side decides to literally evolve, throwing their efforts toward genetic modification. The other decides to take cybernetics as their route to survival. When the US Leader outlaws genetic modification, the East tears itself from the US, and war becomes an immediate threat. Which is where you waltz your happy ass in.

That's as far as I got with the story.  Its interesting enough that I might pick it back up.

The gameplay is third person shooter, but with at least one twist: you can manipulate the environment around you, which I thought was actually pretty clever and unique.  You can lower or raise an area of ground to either get over or under any obstacle that might present itself.  As soon as this mechanic was announced, my gut surged with an almost gleeful OCD attack, very reminiscent of the days I spent millions of dollars in Sim City using the bulldozer to make sure my cities were perfectly flat. I spent an hour or so dropping the entire map's environment as low as it would go, and then decided to make little mountains for myself to conquer.  Doing so revealed many little purple things (some sort of power up), which endeared me to the map designers, as happens when someone rewards my quirky nature with shiny things.

Being able to manipulate the environment gives you a tactical advantage during battle, as you can manipulate your enemy's terrain, or create cover for yourself.  However, the actual shooter gameplay feels underdeveloped. For instance: there isn't a game mechanic built in to let you interact with cover (shoot over or around and still be covered), so its only use is to give you something to hide behind it until your health regenerates. 

I think it would have been smart for them to spend a little bit more time working with how the character can work with the environment that he's manipulating, aside from just being able to walk on it or stand behind it. 

After the training bit I got to the first real section of gameplay, which laced with small cutscenes: enemies fleeing, an establishing shot of a turret, the norm. Sadly, these clips felt incredibly stiff, and were reminiscent of an XBox or PS2 game. Between the slightly awkward animations, and the characters, environments, and lighting not being as developed as I'm used to seeing in the current generation of games, the art didn't help draw me in at all.

So far, the game has the interesting environment manipulation (I'm curious to see if you develop more powers over time) and the possibility of a decent story that's encouraging me to keep playing.  However, I also just picked up my PSP and started playing Patapon, and Zelda is out in 4 days, so... it's fighting a losing battle.

[TLDR] Story could be okay, main gameplay mechanic is nice, general gameplay feels underdeveloped, art and animation are so far unimpressive.


Monday, June 13, 2011

Dead Space 2

RATING : [4/5]

After several incredibly frustrating hours, I finally completed it! It was creepy and scary right up until the end. I was very impressed. =)

At any part in the game, you experience one of three types of gameplay:

1. Dark and Spooky
Time you spend wandering around in the dark, flicking your flashlight at anything that moves or makes the slightest noise, terrified that something might come out and eat you. Due to the quirky human psychology of fearing the unknown much more what we know is likely to come and eat us, you spend all of this time wishing desperately that the vomiting, flesh eating monster would just come out and get it over and done with so that the lights would come back on. They did a wonderful job making your skin crawl and your palms sweat, and I applaud them for it.

2. Loud and Violent
It never rains, it pours gallons of acid, bile and blood. All over you. Sometimes you'll only get a couple monsters after your tasty fleshmeats, but a more often than not its a raining shitshtorm of beasties. During these bloodbaths you're no longer scared, you're jacked up on adrenaline and mad as hell that the walls seem to be a veritable clowncar for these fuckers. But with more doors. I spent so much of my time wandering around mostly dead with about 4 bullets that I began suspecting the gameplay designers of an extra special brand of sadism. However, now that everything is said and done, the fact that I was so often so close to death and yet I never got STUCK, was a testament to their skill. Or, possibly mine. ;) But probably theirs.

This section also makes me feel the need to shout out how much of a wonderful idea it was to make dead things throw shiny prizes at you every time you shot, stomped, punched, or violently threw them at a wall post-mortem. I cant imagine anything more satisfying than stomping my way through a pile of corpses that just nearly killed me, glimmering presents spilling out every whichway.

3. Engineering Puzzles
They weren't difficult, and I don't know if I can look back on any of them and think 'that part was so much fun!', but they were definitely nice relaxing sections that made the game much easier to play through. They were clever and well thought out, and they didn't break immersion whatsoever. In fact, they added a bit of depth to the game. Its strange to think that a part of the game that I wouldn't deem as a really fun part as being so crucial. I wouldn't want to play the game without them.

[TLDR] Fantastic art, delightfully scary story, well designed gameplay, no real complaints. All in all, I give Dead Space 2 mad props. yo.


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Dead Space 2


While I was flicking through the various videogames I've yet to play, I apprehensively tugged Dead Space out of its sleeve, wondering how much I was going to regret a decision that was sure to convince me that I was a very girly coward.

I haven't been frightened by many media arts. A few movies, and one videogame series has done the trick: Fatal Frame.  Silent Hill was a little spooky, but only Fatal Frame, for reasons unknown, has actually spooked me enough to where I couldn't play it alone in the dark... at least not without turning on a cheat where I couldn't die. (I find it strange that it helps)

I have heard that this game is somewhat terrifying. KT told me that she so far hasn't been able to play it alone. Of course, she also struggled with Bioshock, so I wasn't sure about counting her as a credible fear source ;). However, I was still worried that the game's reputation might prove correct, and I would soon be in an embarrassing situation involving Jason finding me curled in the corner of the couch, all the lights in the apartment on, jumping at small noises and grumpily rambling about being such a sissy.

Turns out I am.. so far.. not a sissy.
The game is quite spooky, but not in the way that gets to me.

I've played about an hour and a half of it now, and I am very pleased with it. The gore is fun, and the creatures are terrifying. I'm hooked by the story, and the gameplay has so far not caused me any discontent.

The overall gameplay is, for the most part, generic third-person shooter style.
However, everything else isn't generic. They took innovative strides to make the HUD very integrated into the game. No fullscreen menus, no disembodied displays.. everything is generated within the world. Your health and action bars are on the player character's back, the menus are a holographic display coming off his wrist.  It is very immersive and aesthetically attractive.

They also try to immerse everything from weapon creation to stores. Most everything makes an attempt to not break your immersion in the story, which is very appreciated.

The art is very pretty... If you can call writhing human bodies vomitting blood and bile everywhere while pulsating monsters rip through their flesh, only wriggle into their skin and wear them as puppets pretty... which I can.

The lighting is used very well to create a spooky aura. In several cases, all of the lights are taken away from a scene, and you're left with only your flashlight to find your way. In other cases, dramatic stationary lights are used in a strategic manner to throw specific spooky shadows: giving you a terrifying warning that something is sneaking up on you. Its very reminiscent of Bioshock, which is another game that did a spectacular job setting up lighting for their advantage.

I will write more on it later on in the game, I just have a headache and thought I'd take a break to try and let it wear off. Unfortunately, this isn't helping, so I'm just going to watch Bones until it ebbs.

[TLDR] So far, so good.


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Too Human

RATING : [1/5]

Disclaimer, I only played this game for about an hour before I quit. Therefore, my opinion might not be fair. However, I couldn't handle playing any longer, so, whatever.

In my opinion, this game is a perfect example of how NOT to make a game.

My first furstration bloomed when I realized they had I didn't have camera control. Now, I've played many games where the camera was static. However, in these games, the camera angles were planned out, and so I was sure to see everything I was supposed to see.  This was an open environment where the camera followed me on an unscripted path.  With only a 'camera reset' to aid me, I became quickly frustrated with the lack of control.

The second wave hit me as soon as I found out what the camera controls were taken my right thumbstick in order to make room for: the main combat control. Simply push the thumbstick at the enemy you want to hack and slash, and huzzah! You attack the bitch. It makes for incredibly boring gameplay. I never thought I would enjoy hitting 'a' repeatedly over something else, but this game opened a whole new door of boring. Not only is it boring, but its jarring. If your opponent is close enough, you jump toward him when you push the thumbstick toward him, and start attacking. However, if they're not close enough, you just stand there and swing, momentarily frozen. So, you will be attacking an oncoming hoard, dashing from person to person, and then all of a sudden, you're standing there swinging at nothing. Same thing happens when you're running about and forget that the right thumbstick isnt the camera. You become awkwardly frozen, swinging at nothing.

You can also use ranged attacks, shooting your pistols at your enemies. If an enemy is close enough, a target appears around it and you begin shooting at it. You can switch targets using the right thumbstick, but the target doesn't stick to where you change it. If you let go, it goes back to the primary target.

There was no mini map. You were dropped into the middle of a story that attempted to pull you in by switching back and forth between the present and the past, as well as switching you between 2 different realms. It fails, and is instead, simply confusing. I leveled up 6 times in less than an hour, and leveling up was annoying rather than exciting. The equipments screen was confusing... I could go on for a very long time about how many things I found frustrating about this game.

The last straw was the first miniboss battle:

I ran in and started slashing at the beastie. Unfortunately, he stomped and swung a few times and I found myself dead. After pretty scene involving an 'valkyrie' dropping down to fly away with me, I'm back at the entrance to the map while my soldiers are still whacking away at the monster. So, I run back to join the battle. I run in close, and notice an icon in the corner encouraging me to press the 'a' button.  Doing so resulted in me jumping on his back. Not knowing what to do next, I pushed around the melee thumbstick and... nothing. I soon fell off the beast's back. I tried repeatedly to jump on this back and do SOMETHING using several different button combinations, but it always resulted in me eventually falling off. I eventually noticed that he was tipping from side to side, and if I used the movement stick to lean in the opposite direction, I could stay on longer.  However, after about a minute of surfing on the back of the monster, I couldnt figure out any possible reason I'd want to stay on top of him, so I gave up and jumped off. As soon as I hit the ground, I was bludgeoned, and dead. Watching the Valkyrie drop from the ceilling, I realized that the 'B' button, which was described as the button I could use to skip cinematics, had no effect on this show-stealing angel. Back at the start of the map, I run in to join the throng once again.  At a distance, I noticed that when the brute hit the ground, it created that recognizable expanding ring of impact that any experienced gamer knows by instinct that they have to jump over to not take damage. So, I stood at a distance and started shooting at it, giving myself room to be able to jump over these things. It went fairly well for a while, I shot at a target, and jumped over the bands of danger... however I soon realized that I was taking damage, even when I was completely clearing the ring. I was soon dead again. Frustrated at the stupid angel descending once again to laboriously hoist my carcas back to the start of the map, I marched back into battle, furious that I was misunderstanding how I was supposed to win. I began shooting again, avoiding the impact rings as best I could. Soon, the health bar wrapped around the target ring was depleted, but the beast was still standing. Fantastic.  I realized that the thing had multiple targets. Unfortunately, they in order to switch targets, you have to hold the thumbstick toward whichever you want to shoot at, which means when your thumb is required for jumping, you can't be shooting at your target.  All of this frustration is compounded by the lack of control over my camera which, at this point, I was really really wishing I had.  After several more deaths and several more of the enemy's hp rings depleted, I frustratingly charged in and started swinging my sword wildly. No targest were active, and I didn't care. I just kept swinging.  He was dead in a few swings, and I was furious. 

Sure. Maybe I sucked at the game. However, it was the first miniboss battle, and if a game is designed correctly, you shouldn't be able to fail that epically that early on in the game. I put the game down, and I'm not going back.

Now I'm cranky.  I'm going to try something else, and hope it goes better.

[TLDR] I disliked it, and quit. I wouldn't suggest it.


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Prince of Persia : Forgotten Sands

RATING : [3/5]

I'm a huge fan of the Prince of Persia series. Unfortunately, my obsession has been wrought with disappointment.  This series embodies one of my favorite types of gameplay. The Prince of Persia Series, the God of War Series, and the Zelda Series (OOT, MM, & TP) represent the pinnacle of my gameplay enjoyment. While other games might capture my attention through story or art, these sorts of games make my hands twitch with excitement. The first Prince of Persia game that I played (Sands of Time for PS2) was one of my favorite games I've ever played. Unfortunately, many of the games that came later on (Such as Two Thrones) fell short. I abandoned hope on the series until Ubisoft released their take on Prince of Persia. It was absolutely beautiful, and fun as hell to play.

This game was also a work of Ubisoft, but I'm not sure if it was meant to be the next installment. The gameplay felt different, and the way the environment and story was set up was also very different. The prior Prince of Persia had a very mystical and ethereal feel to it, while this one was set in a more realistic Persian setting. The prince did say something about 'Ferrah' at one point, which I'm fairly certain was the name of your lady in the last game, but I could have been mistaken. This prince doesn't look like the previous prince either.  In any case, I didn't find it all that important.

The gameplay was regular Prince of Persia gameplay, which I always find enjoyable. This one might have been a little too easy, as I only had difficulty near the end, but I've always found the Prince of Persia games a little easy.

There was one major flaw; an obnoxious major flaw. There's a design hurdle that you have to cross when creating a game like this: how to create the environmental aspects that allow you to get around without making the game too... convenient.  That one word embodies the entire resounding issue I have with the game. It starts small, laughing whenever I come across a series of water spouts that I just so happen to have the power to freeze and use as a trapeze, and evolves into a disgusted grunt as I'm given the ability to zoom to enemies, and from then on, the only way to get to certain places is by zooming to a conveniently placed enemy. Previous installments of the series did a much better job tackling this problem.

The game did, however, have some very good merits. The environment, in particular, stood out. The previous game had a very artistic stylization to it, but this one focused more on realism. While the character models didn't impress me very much, the environments were stunning. They were very warm and dusty, very realistic. As an extension of this impressiveness was how the Prince was programmed to interact with it. There were different animations for each of the environmental situations. While crawling around on bricks, hands and feed landed perfectly on handholds. If you stood underneath a waterfall, his hand would annoyingly bat at the water above him to try and keep it off his head. When standing near a pool of water that emitted blue flecks that floated eerily around you, the prince's head moved around to stare at them, apparently confused and enchanted.

The game was enjoyable, and I would reccomend it to fans of the Prince of Persia series. It only takes about 10 hours to beat, and while it doesn't stand out as the most enjoyable game I've played in recent history, I didn't consider it a waste of my time.

[TLDR] Even the gameplay scenarios are WAY too fucking convenient, the game was fun to play, and the environment art and the way the character interacted with it was dazzling.


Saturday, May 28, 2011

Dragon Age 2

RATING : [5/5]

Bioware has recently become a company that I've grown to rely on for absolutely fantastic games that envelop me in an impressive addiction paralleled by few other games. While other games may have impressed me in a more succinct fashion, these games have wrapped me up in hundreds of hours of gameplay... each.

It began with the first Dragonage, and then, encouraged by its success, I proceeded to backtrack to Mass Effect 1 (which, while unfinished and full of bugs, was still addictive beyond reason) and then forward to Mass Effect 2.  So, when Dragon Age 2 was released (I've still not gotten to DA1 Expansion) I pounced on hit happily, ready to be dragged happily into its mystical world and not released for an unknown amount of time.

It did not disappoint. 

So many stellar things stood out about Dragon Age 2. The foremost, for me, was the branching storyline. Bioware has always done a fantastic job accomplishing a diverse and sprawling set of story options, and DA2 was no exception. Many games, in an attempt to make a branching story line, have a tenancy to favor one of the paths, resulting in a weaker storyline.  I've come to admire how with both the Mass Effect and Dragon Age games, every path is as well developed as the others. 3 classes, 3 personalities, and 2 'political' standings, along with other choices, all effect a diverse story network, with each choice's story result as fully developed as the next. I've found that if a game doesn't do this correctly, it spawns frustration for a completionist like myself, giving me a feeling as though I'm forced to go through the game more than once to get the whole experience. However, their success in making the game easy and fun to play, as well as making each class a different gameplay experience, made me hold no qualms with playing through more than once.

Each character was very well designed. Their artistic design, their personality, and their backstories were all very well put together. I was interested in each of my companion's side quests. Whether I was trying to goad them into rivalry, encourage them to trust in me and think of me as their friend, or seduce them into a spicy romance, I was interested all through my interactions with each and every character.

All of the art was impressive, as always. The character designs are wonderful, the environment designs are wonderful, and the models, textures, and lighting of all art aspects were all outstanding testaments to the immersive nature of this spectacular game. Some of the armors were repetitive, but they were all beautiful nonetheless. Especially some of the final amours: the Champion set looks fantastic.

A friend of mine from college did several of the animations for Ferris. She did an absolutely wonderful job, and I'm very impressed by her work. She always had a knack for the dark and broody, and she definitely showed herself through her work. =) Great job Sarah.

I could go on for a very long time about all of the wonderful things about the game, but I think I'll just sum up with one simple statement: The gameplay was easy to learn but difficult to play (in the good way), the art was stunning and immersive, and the story wrapped me up and a big cuddly blanket of wonderfullness that I wanted to live through more than once, and even more than twice.

The only critiques I have for the game are few, but nonetheless present.
The overall gameplay was very quest-based, revolving around a central hub in the form of a fast-travel map; You could not move between 2 areas without using the fast-travel map. While this is convenient, it ripped me from my immersion, and discouraged me from doing things quest-by-quest, but more location-by-location. This repetitive gameplay made the quest stories evolve in fragmented sections, and drew my interest away from them. Instead of following a story, I was completing a checklist. It seems silly, but if I had the option to travel between each map without using the fast travel, and if there had been more focus on the 'active quest', I would have felt more immersed, and would have felt more encouraged to do one quest at a time. I do enjoy a quest map and the ability to fast travel, I just wish it was an option; a tool to use instead of a cemented game mechanic.

A few hours into gameplay, I was on a quest into some remote cave, and noticed that I found my environment very familiar. I was confused, because I was fairly certain that this was a new area, but I definitely recognized where I was.  After a while, I realized that the environment mas were mostly the same map.  There was only one, possibly two 'mansion' maps, and only a couple outdoor and cave maps. They did close off certain areas for one map, while in another it was open, but it was in a confusing manner... either with small stones or a door that you were left feeling that you should be able to open somehow, as you could see on the map that there was explorable area behind it. I realize the efficiency of reusing a map, and some of the efforts they made to change up the maps definitely helped: such as using different entrances. I think it would have helped quite a bit if they had made any of the environmental aspects that 'stand out' able to be changed and moved, as well as changing the minimap to help disguise the fact that they were the same map.

All in all, the game had far more great strentghs than shortcomings. I may have ranted for a bit on my critiques, but thats just because I like to do that. This was by far one of my most favorite games. Another well created game by Bioware =)

[TLDR] If I could find a satisfying way to have sex with this game, I might just marry it. Though, I'd encourage more discreet map reusal and time spent working out quest bugs.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Shell Shock Live

STATUS : [ N/A ]
RATING : [3/5]

The premise is simple: You're a tank. They're a tank. Shoot at them.

Nothing cures boredom like pumelling a bunch of tiny graphic represenations of the most childish and disturbing people on the planet with a pleaothra of exploding weaponry. Play this generic angle/velocity shooter by KChamp in a 1 vs 1 in a not-so-quickdraw to the death, or start a small scale war and join a 3 vs 3 match.  Sit back and explode enemy tanks while you chat with the internet's finest; Anywhere from a pretty cool chick from Germany who likes to quote sci fi novels, to the less rare 13 year old screaming obsceneties and telling you how bad you are at the game with capital letters. Or, maybe you get the cat sleeping on the keyboard whose tank times out and says nothing  nothing but "FFFFFFF".  (Fortunately, when tanks time out they get booted and replaced by AI, which was a very good plan) In any case, its generally a hilarious or interesting experience.

The gameplay is pretty simple. When its your turn, pick a weapon, choose an angle, choose the power behind the shot, and shoot. The weapons are anything from a stream of small missles to a large exploding ball that bounces a few times before it explodes. Learning to use these efficiently is fun, as well as rewarding when you finally see the explosion of damage numbers stream away from your enemies. 

The game can be found at  Kongregate, or The Official Website. I'm a big fan of Kongregate, but I did just notice that the official website has a map creator which, even though the maps are just a single line through the screen defining sky from land, is a nice thing to have.

[TLDR] The game isnt profoundly unique from any other game of its kind, but it is a fun way to spend some bored hours.