Saturday, 27 November 2010

Poker Night at the Inventory

When you think of poker, what do you think of? Texans, gamblers, cartoon rabbits? Telltale try to remove the whole Texans and gamblers part of poker (mostly), and replace it with a pinch of insanity by adding four of the...strangest people ever. Now before I start, I would like to add that I am in no way a gambler. Why? Because I've never seen the point of putting money on a game where you have a 25% chance of winning (that's poker not slots, which I'm also not a fan of). Also I'm below the betting age... of sorts, but even so, I do not bet on anything. So what do I think of Poker Night? Well I'm getting there, I'm getting there.

Gameplay: Being that this is a poker game, there is no story of sorts. You're at the inventory, a place where video game characters come together and play games in secret. These characters include; Strong Bad, Max the Rabbit, Tycho and the Heavy from Team Fortress 2. All these characters come together to play games of poker. There are some characters in the background, like Sam the Dog. There's also a big cameo from Reginald Van Winslow (the captain from Tales of Monkey Island), which hints towards another series of Tales, from what he's wearing and what he says (which I sort of look forward to). Talking of characters, there is one character I would of loved to see in a game like this, which is Guybrush! I know he's not the maddest character, but with his witty lines he would of made a great character to include. I would of preferred him over Tycho, but no. This just proves how much Lucas Arts have changed over the years... *sigh* I miss the days where Lucas Arts was a company who made original games and didn't puke out a Star Wars game every year... hmmm. Oh sort of got distracted, where was I again? Oh yeah gameplay.

Well as you expect, everything from the real game of poker is in the game. You all start off with £10,000 each, and you must get everyone's money to win. A simple game really. However, sometimes characters will put down special items, like Sam will put down his gun and badge, and when you get them out, you get their item to use in Team Fortress 2, and if you don't have TF2? Well tough. And why the hell don't you own TF2?! Anyway, the items don't really give you any bonus, they're just re-skins of old items. There are other unlocks, such as different sets of cards and tables...not much excitement there but still. There are some nice nods to other Telltale games, which is nice I suppose.

The writing is top notch here, from the lines that the characters say when making their moves, to them talking to one another about random stuff. This is probably one of the main reasons to buy the game. However, there is one problem with this. When you knock someone out the game, they just walk off into the background and you never hear from them again. This later becomes bothersome when you are left with one person. It slows down the game tremendously, as there's no funny chats between characters, so it almost becomes a bore to finish the game (remember what i said at the beginning). The witty puns are still there, but they don't match up really. Another thing is, after a few games you've basically heard all the dialogue in the game, and then it becomes repetitive and a rarity to get new dialogue.

One of the biggest problems, and for some people a deal breaker, is the multi-player... There is none. No LAN games and no online. I can't see a proper reason why they didn't add one. I can think of a way to add one; like single play, where no one plays the characters but you pick avatars to play, which don't talk but you have text boxes to chat to the other players while the madness goes on in the background. There. Simple. I came up with a concept in two minutes. Because there's no multi-player, the game has little legs and extras don't cut it these days. Now I know I've always gone with "A game must always stand on it's single player" but still, with a game made for lots of people having no multiplayer seems very odd.

All in all, the game doesn't have much substance, however, what's there is very good, a lot of Polish to hold up for what you pay WHICH IS £4! The game just rubs me in the right way, and as every woman knows rubbing me in the right way gives great rewards. My final thought is if you're the type of person who loves playing games with good writing, who likes betting games or can get hooked on games like club penguin, then I recommend them to pick up this game. It's funny, addictive and well crafted. Everything wanted from a game like this.

Liam Hackett
Maria Matthews (Editor)

Friday, 19 November 2010

I think it's time forrrr... an actual blog post!!

Right, as my Tales of Monkey Island Review went down the drain, (more like cyber-drain but still) I thought I would do an actual blog post! I mean it's not like there's anything good that could of come out recently, (put my Anti-Activision visors on) and I'm not planning to do a new game review until Super Meat Boy finally comes out on PC. So... as I was saying, I'm incredibly bored, (or trying to get out of revision) and I'm just going to talk about some news, thoughts on a few recent events, what I'm up to and stuff like that. Isn't this exciting?! ...Don't answer that.

Okay, as some of you may know I may have gotten a little addiction to a game called "Killing Floor" an indie game that came out in May 2009, and I've heard about it here and there, but I never picked it up because well... for some time I wasn't very interested in it; one game mode and it reminded me of Left 4 Dead and another game that is a type of fish. So I passed on it for quite some time, until one day, low and behold, it was on one of the many fantastic sales on Steam, and so I picked up the game and all the DLC for the minor price of £5.99. As you may expect, I quickly pounced on the sale, devouring its body and obtaining the juicy red meat of the game and let me tell you it was well worth the wait and stalking of the pray for the best attack! As I will not do a review on the game, I'll just tell you some information about it here.

As I said before, I didn't buy the game before the deal because of it looking like Left 4 Dead and a fish game beginning with C. Well let me tell you that it isn't at all! It's kind of a misconception that the game carries around like a 10 ton weight, when in fact it's almost a completely different game. An example of this would be in Left 4 Dead the normal zombies run and do very little damage and only pose a small threat, with Killing Floor the "normal" Zombies walk and are now a much bigger threat, you may not think that when playing, but when they catch up to you they will grab you and make you a quick and easy snack for the "special infected". Also there are alot more "special infected" in Killing Floor, in fact there are so many it almost seems like every sort of infected zombie... things, are normal (as hinted by the quotation marks). Now I'll cut this short but to be plain, Killing Floor has more guns, maps, mods (I'll get to that in a minute) and enemies. However, is it a better game? No. Left 4 Dead just has more balance and is more... polished (for lack of a better word) than Killing Floor, however I do recommend a buy even at it's full price at £15/£19.99.

From Killing Floor to the Engine it's using, the Unreal 3 engine. I may not be the biggest fan of UR3, in fact I dislike it, I'm more of a Source engine fan (more news on that coming up... God, it's like a chat show here). Even though it may have its problems and big problems, I've always preferred it from UR3 (UDK) the reason; a clean and simple interface. I don't care about all this crap clotting up my screen, I like the shortcut keys and smaller viewing windows. Gives me more room to think and be able to find and apply what I want. Now I'm not saying that UDK is bad, far from it, I'm just saying it's not what I want and I know some people are different. For example, I prefer Softimage XSI for modelling than any other type of modelling tool. Why? Because it has writing on the buttons, not pictures I can hardly see without buying a massive HD screen for my PC (however that would be nice). But that's not what I'm here to talk about. I'm here to talk about the mod support for Killing Floor. (Why did I just spend a whole paragraph on how I dislike UDK... I don't know.)

As you may know, Killing Floor started out as a mod and became an indie title, so you would of thought that the mod support would be good wouldn't you? Well it is! It's much better than Left 4 Dead's, for example, Killing Floor actually has some of the best maps on the disc/cloud (if you've got Steam) when you buy the game, so there's no waiting around on Moddb or, you just pick up and you can play the custom made mods straight off from the geco. However, the best mod support for a game so far is Garry's Mod with it's Toybox feacher. So that got me thinking, why doesn't Left 4 Dead have a service like this? I mean, half their Developer team are modders so why haven't they got something like Killing Floor? Actually come to think about it, lately the Left 4 Dead Devs have made alot of stupid and bad choices over the last few months. So that's one of my questions I leave with you. Why haven't there been better mod support for L4D?

Okay, from L4D and Neatly, to my second to last talk...thing. As I was saying earlier, I prefer the Source SDK and because of that I am now working on two maps for it, one being a contest entry for Roofville on, and another being a Left 4 Dead 2 mod (a sort of mutation of a game mode in some ways). So as you may guess, I've being pulling my hair out with some of the gigantic issues with the two SDKs (Left 4 Dead 2 and Half Life 2 episode 2). Let me go through some of the problems I've been having (you may need to be a Dev to understand some of what I say). Okay, the big problems I've had issues with is geometry disappearing in Hammer and it's not because of too many entities, in fact, at the point I am with the maps, I haven't even started putting entities in my maps. However, this is a big issue, especially as one of the maps, (not saying which one) is huge and is just annoying when going through the 3D view, and finding missing walls and floors. It's very irritating and I think they really should get this fixed AS QUICK AS POSSIBLE! Another problem I had was my Vis Groups joining together to make this one super Vis. Now I've absolutely bored you with my constant blabbering about game engines and nattering about VisGroups and disappearing geometry, I just want to go over one more thing... Just after I've trimmed my new bucked teeth, removed these big glasses that have appeared on my head and have washed my now greasy hair.

Final thing, and if you want to hear more stuff about games... Well you're not, so leave. But for those who want to know about why I've not been as active as I normally am well listen up (wait I could have made a sex joke there. Oh SH*T my opportunity ruined). Well as a matter of fact, I am currently in my final year of GCSE's at secondary school, so as you may know for anyone who's been through them, it's extremely stressful and takes up alot of my time in the day, so as you can guess, I'm going to be very silent for the next few weeks/months. So I would like you to stick with me now, as I'm working on school work which comes first, understandably, Game Development comes a very close second (if I could do it all day I would), and writing which I'm afraid comes last, for the reason that I have the opportunity of getting some extra cash with level design, not like I can't with this however I don't think anyone wants to buy mis-spelt reviews from a dyslexic. However, I'm working on that, and have got myself a personal human spell checker (which unfortunately comes with the action of hitting me per mistake, but it's a step up). I don't think I can put her name up, however if she misses one of my mistakes, (which is very unlikely) you can call her the evil editor and tell her where the mistakes are, but only on my posts as she doesn't cover witty's reviews (hey that's a... what do you call it... a pun that's it!). Okay, I think I've covered everything. I do have one more big thing to announce, however I can save that for another time.

Liam Hackett
Maria Matthews (Evil Editor)

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Wittyreviews: Soulstorm

An action packed thrill ride in the making folks!

Now, allow me to say this before we continue: I don't like all. I understand that some people do and the first obvious thing people will attack me with is "But Witty! It's exactly like the other games, what's the problem?". And that's a fair question, I liked the last 3 so what's wrong with another right? Well, it's not so much the ENTIRE game I have a problem with, it's little aspects that really get my goat.

First off, a little history. Soulstorm is the last game in the original Dawn of War series and, consequently, the last one I played. Supprisingly, it's also the one I took longest to finish taking an entire month the first time I played it through, why? That can be boiled down to one single race: DARK ELDAR.

The fabulous Eldar
Seriously, Dark Eldar are cheating bastards! But allow me to explain. Again, we have a new plot, this time focusing on an entire system rather than one planet; the Kauruva System. This time, the stakes have been upped slightly. A warp storm has hit the system and thusly all space travel is impossible (except for the Tau of course if you look at Games Workshop logic, but moving on). To this effect, all of our favourite races must travel with ancient Eldar warp, I'm not kidding, the racist zealots are actualy using alien tech to get to where they're going. All of the races from Dark Crusade are back, along with 2 new additions. The Sisters of Battle and the Dark Eldar. Now, let's get down to brass tax here, the Sisters are useless and the Dark Eldar cheat! Now, ok, that's probably unfair so let me elaborate a little bit. When you get down to it, the Sisters are some sort of ballance between the IG and the Space Marines. For instance, the Sisters use bolters but lack access to alot of other Space Marine weaponry. One of the things they use alot of however is fire, lots of fire. Seriously, almost all of their special weapons are fire based from Flamers to Multi-Meltas. They also have very strange tanks, they have the usual fare of Rhino's and the like but they also have combat walkers right out of the Matrix and a tank which is specifficaly designed to shoot fire in wide circles while playing organ music. For some reason, the Sisters are even more zealous than the Space Marines in some ways, how does that make sense? They're combat nuns and the Marines are the freaking Angels of the Death! Hell, even the Sisters buildings are church shaped for the most part! Their ultimate unit is a fucking Angel!

She kicks ass for the lord!

Oh but it gets better, let us speak of the cheaters that are the Dark Eldar. Now, they're pretty much just corrupted Eldar who are in to S&M so most of their units are pretty weak. But, they have one large advantage: Their builders don't need to stick around to build the structures. You see, the builders plant a 'seed' and then the building builds itself, they can go off and do other stuff. And for some reason, the AI insists on building on over half the map! You will end up with a near constant wave of attacks if you're not carefull, unlike the other races which take a breather. And this is where the game REALLY messes you around.

Gameplay is almost entirely unchanged from the previous titles with two exceptions. The first is that you now have air units, a single one for each race, does this make a difference? Not really, they all suck unless you use them with an escort of en masse. And the seccond difference is the victory conditions, remember in Dark Crusade when the only condition was destruction of the enemy's HQ? Well, now you have to destroy every one of the enemy's buildings. Yep. Every. Single. One. You have no idea how tedious that is, especialy when faceing the Dark Eldar! I know the idea was to give a feel of total domination of the enemy or maybe make the battles harder, but imagein if you will this scenario. You've been fighting for a good 20 miniutes, you finnaly have the enemy beaten BUT a single builder made it out alive, maybe he was off building a listening outpost or something. He builds a new HQ and the cycle starts over again. Now, yes, some buildings are exempt. You don't have to destroy the plasma generators or the listening outpost things but the rest of them have to be. The only time this condition does not apply is during the main base sieges which, thankfully, are back. What saddens me the most about the game though is the total destruction some of the races felt. For a start, the Space Marines are being lead by the most retarded, idiotic commanders they could muster, Indrick Boreal. This guy is so stupid he took half the chapter with him and STILL lost, TO THE IMPERIAL GUARD. I'm not kidding, canonically the Imperial Guard win this game. All because Boreal was too busy yammering about how awesome his Spess Mehreens are and how they are the Empra's Fureh.

The only time they're ever awesome

Oh, and Gorgutz returns again, awesome right? Well, yes, except they changed his voice actor to a deeper, gruffier version who has no funny one liners.

Oh but wait! I'm leaveing out an entire section from the games, the multiplayer! It's exactly the same as every other RTS multiplayer known to man. You build things, you train dudes, you kill the enemies dudes and repeat. The popular tactic to the zerg rush the hell out of the enemy leading to some very funny lines of anger from them, but it never happened to me....honest.

To say Soulstorm is bad is not really a correct statement, a better one would be...different. Which is technically the exact problem, it's different but not in a good way. Fundumentally it's no different to the last game or even the first game, but with poorer voice acting, a rediculously unfair at times victory condition and cheating AI it feels more like a chore than a pleasure to play through. Oh and why do the Imperial Guard win? They're cannon fodder! After Soulstorm, Dawn of War would take a little break. Next time, we'll take a look at Relics latest attempt at the franchise, Dawn of War 2, yes, a direct sequel. Wherein the game gets a complete overhaul and it pretty much just says "Screw Soulstorm, it didn't happen!"

Final Score: 3/5

By: Wittyreviewer

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Wittyreviews: Dark Crusade

"Hi players!"

Gone with the narrative, gone with the character development and in with the gameplay style that will continue for the rest of the series. Not to say that the game doesn't have a plot at all, it does, it just doesn't drive the story. Indeed, the characters have very little dialogue. The only lines they have are the ones they say when you click on them to move. It should be noted that Dark Crusade is the DoW game that convinced me to buy the box set. This was back in the days when the only time I'd seen Warhammer 40k was on shelves in my local Games Workshop so when I trotted into HMV one day and saw the Dawn of War boxset next to the new releases, I was intrigued. The first 2 did nothing to fire me up really but that image of a Necron on the Dark Crusade box sealed it.

So todays installment of Dawn of War follows a slightly different style. Instead of playing as 1 maybe 2 races now you have 6. That's right, 6. Be very afraid. You pick 1 and stick with them for the rest of the game. So now it's turning into Total War except it goes into real time. But before I get into all of that, let's cover the story...what there is of one. In this installment the opening and various other texts are read by the Epic Voice, you know, that guy with the deep voice who reads everything overdramatically? Yeah, him. Our tale takes place on the planet Kronus. It's no stranger to war, as the various images tell us, and now 6 factions are trying to take it over. The Imperial Guard and Space Marines make a comeback, though strangely fighting against eachother, along with the Eldar, Orks and Chaos Marines. Added to the mix are the newly playable Necrons and Tau. Yes, I'm going to assume you finished Winter Assault and remember the Necrons don't you? You can play as them now! Go forth and kick some ass as a slow moving, robotic dude. Now, personaly, the Tau are my favourite race. They don't fight for their deitys, like the Imperium of Man or Chaos, they don't fight purely for violence like the Orks nor simply to shut stupid people up ala Eldar. They just do it to make people happy and protect them. Plus, they have laser weapons, floating tanks and stealth suits. All the things that make me happy really. But anyway, back to the plot. Each faction is there for their own reasons. The only real story of interest is the ongoing arguements between the IG and the Space Marines. The IG got their first, you see, and rebuilt the old Imperial city of Victory Bay, even uncovering an old Titan weapon. The Blood Ravens, of course, land to help but request that the IG retreat. The Guards general refuses and so the Blood Ravens decide to wipe them out along with everything else on the planet. Yet again the Blood Ravens have the cannonical story in this game, as their ending is the one that is mentioned in Dawn of War 2. From what we can gather, the planet Kronus was a battlefield during the Horus Heracy and several Blood Raven relics still reside on it. That said, the fact that the Space Marines are so eager to get to them does suggest they may be a little incriminating.

I'll let this speak for itself
The gameplay hasn't changed in the slightest for the past races, though a few additions have been made. The Space Marines now have new infantry known as the Grey Knights. They're spear wielding, psy power wielding paladins who run around swinging their blades in wide arcs. Personaly, the only paladin I trust to get the job done is Alexander Anderson. The IG now have access to entrenched, 50 cal machine guns, gauss cannons and just general tank cannons. The Eldar can now train Harlequins, dancing death clowns who jump around stabbing people with small blades. No really, they're clowns. The Orks have upgraded shoota boyz for you to use, who wield heavy machine guns that sound like rapid fireing staple guns.

Someone make this game!

Chaos has...more evil looking stuff. The real gameplay changes come in the form of the new races. Running and gunning with the Tau will only serve to get you killed faster, instead I suggest using them in moderation. Fire squads make perfect take and hold units to entrence positions with, especialy if they have a sheild drone for emergencies. The Kroot are usefull for hit and run amushes, especialy when fighting the Orks who's close range specialty can take the Tau off guard. Tanks are really only good on buildings and just about all of other Tau warfare is based on infantry, keep this in mind when deploying them into front line combat. The Necrons are robots, that pretty much sums them up right there. They walk, they kill, they blow up. Every part of their use is that in a nutshell. The only noteable thing about them really is that they don't use resources like the other races, instead they use power. Takeing points only really serves to put up sentry turrets and denying the resources to your enemy. The objectives differ this time around aswell, now all you have to do is destroy your opponents HQ building. There's nothing more satisfying than being able to walk through your enemies buildings and then just kill their HQ and still win, great fun.

Finnaly, it was around this time that the moding community got it into their heads that messing around with the game was a good idea, to this date however I have not been able to play any but here's a joke for your viewing pleasure.

Final Score: 5/5

Not a perfect game, but pretty enjoyable. If you liked DoW and Winter Assault, you'll like Dark Crusade. Next time, I tackle the black sheep of the franchise: Soul Storm.

By: Wittyreviewer