Tuesday, 27 December 2011

War Inc Battlezone Interview

Here's are interview with Matt who is one of the developers behind "War Inc Battlezone". Sorry for the poor production however the day before Christmas is not the best time for editing

Play War Inc on Steam.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Jurassic Park Review

Telltale known for making games like the Sam and Max games, have taken on the task of making some of the most beloved movies ever made and making them into video games. First of was Back to the Future, which in fact turned out to be a good however a easy game. Now telltale takes on the task of Jurassic Park. Well is this game any good or should we get a hole ready in nevada?

The story revolves around a canister filled with dinosaur embryos. If you remember in the movie, the character Dennis Nedry takes a bunch of dinosaur embryos in a canister of Shaving Cream for a competing company of INgen (Jurassic Park). Nedry meets a sticky end when he crashes his car and gets eaten by a dinosaur. The game continues this side plot with a bunch of new characters, there a vet and his daughter, a mysterious man and woman looking for the canister, a group of scientists and a group of soldiers and maybe a few more. These characters have average/generic personalities, for example the vet isn't getting on that well with his daughter at parts but are brought closer due to the dinosaurs (and maybe something else). It's average movie stuff. The story all together is OK, however like in the movie it's just away to show how awesome dinosaurs are.

Gameplay is, well, not very good. In short it's a point and click game with no puzzles and little challenge. What makes a point and click game fun? Well for me anyway it's the puzzles, for example if we go back to one of the old Sam and Max games the slap stick humour mixed with the fun and challenging puzzles made them great. The problem with Jurassic Park is that almost everything needed in what you could call puzzles is highlighted with arrows. I blame this with bad design, this sort of thing would of been fine if this was on a easy difficulty, where all the puzzle elements where highlighted. Then if you had a "normal" difficulty option that would remove all the hints when doing the puzzles. Then this would make people like me who like a challenge happy and keep everyone else happy with the easy difficulty.

Movement between areas is better than in past 3D point and click games. No longer do you haft to click and slowly watch your character walk across the map, and clicking every time something new comes into the screen. Now you have this type of multiple camera view showing all the areas you can go. This lowers frustration while adding to the feel that your a director.

Now apart from Puzzles there's a Dragon's lair type set peaces, where pressing keys in the right order or rapidly pressing one. These set peaces are used to show of the dinosaurs, the problem is that these set peaces are fun to watch but not really much fun to play. Not being a fan of the Dragon's Lair games I didn't much like these parts. I wouldn't much mind these parts of the game, but the problem is that you haft to use this mechanic for everything, for example there's parts where you go and open a door by rapidly pressing one of the arrow keys. It's unneeded and not fun.

One big problem is that the game feels rushed. Some textures look good while others look like place holders. Also transitions between areas in cutscenes are clunky as the game stops for a second or two, also some facial expressions aren't the best, sometimes out of sync or just random expressions.

All in all I didn't find this game fun, I found it too easy and I didn't like the hole Dragon's Lair mechanic. However if you find point and clicks too hard and you like Dragon's Lair I would think about it, if you can get over the technical flows.

Liam Hackett

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Saints Row: The Third review

Volition has had a pretty bad year so far, with one of their game series (Red Faction) being shelved after a pretty average game. Now Volition are trying to make it up with Saints Row: the Third. Think the old GTA games such as; Vice City, and San Andreas and take all the weapons, characters and vehicles, then make them crazier... that’s this game in a nutshell. However a crazy game doesn’t necessarily make a good game.

The Story revolves around revenge, taking over and destroying everything! You need to take down a group called “Syndicate” because they killed your friend. It’s a pretty weak set up but it’s just a way to give you the crazy levels. In fact the whole story is just a set up to the madness that is the world. This becomes obvious when curtain characters completely vanish after you’ve complete their missions and are never spoken of again. The characters are well written and are very funny think of them of caricatures of every kind of person; it’s just insane and very funny.

Where the game really excels is with the gameplay. In Saints Row anything is possible... well if anything for you is drop kicking an old lady off a tall building, then flying off in a jet and crashing it into a group of people and surviving with a parachute, then yes anything is possible. I don’t mean you can do that ten hours in the game, oh no, almost everything in the game is unlocked from the word go. Being weapons, vehicles and most activities from when you boot up the game, you can do what you what.  

Most levels in the game are fantastic, the designer really wanted to make this larger than life game and they’ve done just that. For example there’s a level where you are attacking zombies... that’s right, zombies. There’s also a mission where you steal a hover plane and go around destroying everything! I would like to tell you more but I don’t want to spoil it, let’s just say that it’s crazy.
There is a levelling  system in Saints Row where completing levels or curtain objectives will give you respect, which is XP, and when you get enough respect you go up a level which give you the ability to upgrade your character (your health, ammo upgrade and so on).These upgrades cost money. The way you make money is by doing missions, which gives you money up front, and/ or buy buildings (Weapon shops and so on), which will give you a chunk of money hourly. The way I made money was by putting most of my money from missions into buildings, then saving up for curtain upgrades. When you get down to it, you’ll only use a certain set of upgrades.    

Activities are side missions, where you can make money, after you’ve played on or two of the same type of activities, you find that they are basically recycled by making them harder or tweaking them slightly, this doesn’t make them bad just a little repetitive, while some of them are fun, especially “Professor Genki’s Super Ethical Reality Climax”, think a third person Smash TV. Other activities you’ll just ignore after playing them once in the main campaign.

Customisation is a big thing in Saints Row: the Third. You can customize almost everything about yourself and most of your car/plane.  However it’s the things that you can’t customize that sticks out, sort of like the uncanny valley.  For example why can’t I customise most planes? Also why can’t I add custom decals to my car? However all these gripes are completely removed, when you can turn your character into Dr Manhattan and walk around the city nude.  

While most weapons are pretty average, there is a few that are insane, The 5 foot dildo bat, the remote controlled missile and many others, there just very fun to use, weirdly. The radio stations are pretty average, I listened to the 80s and 90s radio and there wasn’t really any big hits (maybe one or two by some people’s perspective), they where all what I like to call “forgettable hits” toughs songs that you hear and recognise, but can’t name the tile for the life of you.

All in all, the game is great. In some ways it falls flat, for example the activities. However the game’s all about just playing to just go crazy. Some people might might not like this but for others just turn on cheats and go mad.

Liam Hackett

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Swords of the Stars 2 : Lords of Winter

KupaRizu here, bringing you a review for Swords of the Stars II: Lords of Winter, Kerberos’s second venture into the Space 4X genre, the next in the Sword of the Stars series, which for anyone who played it was an absolute classic in the X4 genre, bringing great and fluent controls, a smooth yet demanding learning curve and an overall great game. While similar in some ways, this iteration of the Sword of the Stars system is a terrible mutation of the beautiful formula of the original.

From the beginning this game was shaky, Kerberos admitted that its release was a ‘Release or Die’ situation, if they didn’t release when they did, the game would be scrapped. This led to a very rushed, almost Beta like, release where models, scripts and even entire levels were missing from the game files, however Kerberos managed to fix most of these problems with a series of first week patches. So now that the game is playable, let’s get on with how playable it really is.

Upon launching you are given a splash screen with the Paradox and Kerberos logos side by side, now this is usual launching procedure for most games, right? Not in Sword of the Stars II, this is the loading screen, however you don’t know this until around 12 minutes later when the game roars at you and then 3 minutes later actually kicks itself into the main menu. So, fifteen minutes of loading time, so the main menu, at a minimum, should be loaded right? Nope. You are given the game logo, and the menu options, however none of these do anything for a good minute until the background of the menu is loaded. Okay, my boredom and irritation levels rising I look for a tutorial so I can learn the controls and aspects of the game only to find there isn’t one. For new players of the Swords of the Stars series this is going to pose a big problem, as it’s manual is also not informative enough to be used as a tutorial or in some cases it’s not even good enough to be reference material in the middle of battle, which is a not good.

Okay, so it’s approximately been 15 minutes since I launched the game and I still haven’t even got past the main menu, let’s fix that, shall we. I start a new game, choose a level from its over-complicated map select screen and then get onto the customisation of my team. Then I finally see something good about the game, the graphics. While the graphics in the first Sword of the Stars where brilliant for their time they have aged and aren’t as amazing in today’s world, however Sword of the Stars II brings in updated graphics that look beautiful. I choose my cartoony hand drawn avatar, choose my team colours and Colony ‘NewFoundKupaLand’ is ready to go! …or at least it would be if I knew what the hell was going on.

I move the camera around, exploring the galaxy around me, and boy is it beautiful, stars glimmer and my colonies are easily identifiable against the dark background of space. I click my homeworld, and using my knowledge and experience from the first Sword of the Stars I start researching and building new ships. As the ‘Civilisation’ stage is turn based I take a while to peruse the new features and try to get used to the new and laggy interface.

Before I continue I want to make one point: Sword of the Stars II is stupidly over complicated, the level of micro-management, mission control, lack of good tutorials or guides and abundance of new useless features means that it has lost something its original had from the start: the Fun factor. The original, while it could take a week to learn all the features featured tutorials and tips on how to play the game, and these kept you interested as you knew what you were doing.

4X games are complicated affairs in themselves but usually soften this with ease-of-use and good communication and feedback from the game of things that require your attention, a great example of this the ‘Civilization’ series, where the player has access to numerous systems from micro-management to making choices that affected your entire civilisation, however it does a brilliant job of automating what needs to be automated and alerting the player to what needs to be decided or items of the players attention. Complicated, but easy to play.

Okay, so now I’ve got that off my chest and finally start to do something: design some new ships. In the original all of the ships parts were given ratings and brief descriptions so you knew what you were doing, however for some reason in Sword of the Stars II neither the game nor the manual tell you what ANY of the parts do, so you have to put everything together and hope for the best. However a new feature which I quite like is the fact that ships are built by creating invoices which allows the player to save and re-order the same invoice in the future, making the construction of ships a little bit easier the second time around.

Another annoying feature is the expansions to the government spending options, an area where the original game specifically tried to avoid, these new options allow the player to spend different amounts of different things such as research or construction which the leads to different types of governments. Once again none of this is actually explained so I have no idea what the different government types do or what benefits you gain from actually changing from the default.

So, I’ve managed to somehow build a fleet and sent them out into the cold, heartless void of space to explore when I come across a fleet of enemy ships, sparking a fight. Right, I can do this, real time strategy is my speciality! Or at least it should be, but, as with nearly every other part of the game, the combat system has also been ‘revamped’ into a much less intuitive form. The combat now runs on three vertical planes instead if one, but I haven’t figured out what difference being on a certain plane makes, so I’m throwing that into the ‘new and useless’ pile of features. The whole interface has been changed from the one that made sense in Sword of the Stars into a mash of unlabelled buttons, meaning that while in the original it was easy to select your ships and throw them straight into explosive laser death combat, this new system is a lot more tiresome and confusing. Plus, most of the combat time is spent actually finding your opponent, so most of the time there won’t be any actual combat before the timer is up.

Most of the new features in Sword of the Stars II are neat little ideas on their own, but because they are so difficult to access or understand they make the game more complex and frustrating to play, leading to an overwhelming, over-complex and unenjoyable game. If Kerberos had figured out a more graceful way to introduce the player to the plethora of new features then maybe this game could be good, but as it currently is the game fails to deliver the information the player needs and ends up that most of these features get ignored, misunderstood or abandoned completely during gameplay.

It seems that the ‘Release or Die’ situation would’ve produced better results if Kerberos went with the second option instead of delivering this buggy, over-complex Frankenstein’s monster of a game.


Sunday, 30 October 2011

PAYDAY: The Heist Review

Overkill studios have come out with there "heat" style co-op shooter "PAYDAY". Does this game rise to take the world? Or does it wish to be someone?

PAYDAY is a 4 player co-op game split between 6 individual missions. Now some mechanics may seem very similar to another title concerning the living dead however with a few massive tweaks to gameplay. For one, the enemy has weapons which means moving slowly and diving from cover to cover is essential to your survival. Also there's a levelling up system, which personally i Found a little strange as it stops low level players from getting to later levels as equipment like ammo bags and medi bags become essential with "hard" difficulty.

Now you maybe thinking "why does that stop me playing later levels?" Well the last three heists in the game need to be played on hard or the game won't let you play them, is sort of a silly design decision as some players maybe a little unwilling to do so as they may think they won't finish the mission because... Well, it's too hard . I had this problem with someone online and he almost refused to play it because he thought we would be there for hours because we would be failing the mission over and over again. On hinge sight it wasn't really that hard.

The reason he was like that wasn't because was a wimp well he was sort of was, but apart from that it was because the games already hard. The reason this is, because the everyone has a really good shot poke your head out of cover and you get riddled with bullets. Most levels are designed with cover in mind however some areas do lack cover so you do get cheep killed now and then. Also the lack of the source engines director really shows. Enemies seem to spawn randomly sin some missions, which also contributes to the feeling your being cheep killed.

A mission is one big level with objective you need to complete. Let me give you an example, the bank heist, the first mission in the game. You start off looking for the bank manager to get into a room that holds all the thermite to get into the vault. The doesn't take more than ten minuets. After that you need to watch a drill and protect it as it opens a door. The problem here is that your stuck in one room there's nothing interesting to do but watch a drill and shoot at the police, luckily one person needs to delete security footage from a computer so two people get to do something the other two are rather unlucky as they just stand in a room shooting police and watching a drill.

This is the main problem (gameplay wise) of PAYDAY sometimes you just stand around for long periods of time defending or just watching something. Now this did happen in Left 4 Dead but L4D had very short parts where you just waited just a minute or two, however in PAYDAY these events can the 5 to 10 minutes and can be in quick succession.

Now seeing as I'm talking about death allot you may think it's all over, however you'd be wrong to a point. You see there's this hostage system which is used as a sort of lives system. When you loose all your health you go down like you would in L4D but you have a time limit on how-long you stay down before you die (in game they call it "custody" ). When you do die you go into limbo watching the game for around 2 mins, then if your team mates are still alive they can exchange a hostage that you've taken. At first you can only take to hostages per person but with some unlocks you can take four, plus with some police you can scare them and make them cuff themselves making them your hostage.

Now I did have one big problem, which was lag... However not in the way you would think. I'm not talking about players see what you where doing a minuet ago as your playing normally. It's very strange and I didn't even notice this till I was playing with friends on Skype. I know this problem will only last a week but it's good to let you know before you buy.

All in all PAYDAY is a OK game at best. I had fun playing, however I couldn't see myself playing it over and over again. I would pick it up for all you Left 4 Dead fans, but without any sort of mod support, You'll haft to wait for DLC which is uncertain at this point.

Liam Hackett

Monday, 24 October 2011

Dungeon Defenders Review

Hello readers, KupaRizu here with my first ever review for Feral Entertainment, so please, sit back and enjoy!

Dungeon Defenders is the first ever game developed by Florida based game studio Trendy Entertainment, and boy what a brilliant entrance into the world of Videogames have they made, which is not surprising considering the company was created by veterans of the video game industry made up of some of the best Unreal Engine Developers in the world with over 40 years of collective experience between them.

Now, what makes Dungeon Defenders so unique and simply downright clever is the combination of two unlikely genres; Tower Defence and Action RPG, into a brilliant blend of action-filled excitement.

Dungeon Defenders takes place in a fantasy realm where a great evil has been sealed away for many generations in Eternia Crystals, however recently an evil army was released by accident with the sole purpose of destroying the Eternia Crystals and reawakening the great evil that has been sealed from the world. Due to this event, Heroes must be chosen to defend the Eternia Crystals, and you just happen to be one of the chosen ones.

Dungeon Defenders begins simple, like many RPGs, with a class selection screen, each class is unique and you are given four to start off with, with more classes being available to unlock at a later stage in the game. The classes each have a difficulty rating and are progressively more challenging to learn and use effectively.

The first class most players should start off with is the Apprentice class, due to his mix of barricades and different kinds of towers that can deal ranged damage from behind fortifications, giving him the most balanced toys of all the classes. The second hardest class, and the one I started with, is the Squire class, a Tank class through-and-through, his defences are based around funnelling or blocking off groups of baddies so he can rush in a take them down with his sword for a massively satisfying blood bath massacre.

The next class is different yet again, for one she is the only female class, and two she is a mixture of ranged support and trapping; The Huntress. Playing the Huntress means firing off crossbow bolts and shredding enemies apart with gatling cannons, all while laying traps designed to wear down, slow or stun incoming enemies. While she may sound overpowered, without a good Squire or Apprentice, she can quickly become overwhelmed by the sheer amounts of enemies that pour out of the dark portals. The final class is also a support style class: the Monk. The Monk class lays down area of effect auras to slow, damage or even turn enemies against their own former friends. Monks can also summon healing auras to aid the other players, however, just like the Huntress; Monks are not very good as a solo hero and is more of a support class for co-op.

After choosing your Heroes class you are able to choose his/hers colour scheme and name and then you go on to customise the look and colours of your Eternia Crystal, however at the beginning only one Eternia Crystal will be available, for the rest are unlocked via achievements. Then the game really begins!

Thrown into the tutorial with my Squire on medium difficulty I perform all the tasks set forth, from learning the movement system, how to build towers and how to use the rather sloppy camera controls, to learning all about levelling up and attacking. Then, and only then, am I given my first level, a simple invasion consisting of five waves of enemies, each wave getting progressively harder, standard Tower Defence stuff really. I build two spiky barriers, the only type of defence my Hero knows at level 1, and begin the combat stage. The camera zooms down into the action and I jump into the fray as little imp like demons start to pour out of the demon portals, I slash away until I kill something then move onto my next target, and again, slash, kill, move on, slash, kill, move on. The excitement of running into the action and clicking wildly quickly wore off, unfortunately, while fun, the action was primarily hack-and-slash, click to victory sort of gameplay. Despite this it was enjoyable to kill the imps and I had managed to complete the wave before they reached my defences, sweet. So, I run back to the Eternia Crystal and start the next wave, again killing away before they reached my defences. Ran back to the crystal, started the next wave, killed them all, same again next wave, and then I started the final wave.

This is where I learned my mistake, and learned that Dungeon Defenders is insanely hard, even when attempting to play on medium difficulty, and unless you have friends to play with, even on easy it is going to be a challenge to complete all 13 missions in the campaign. And of course, being the idiot I am, that was exactly what I planned to do. The final wave spawned two huge Orcs, these just smashed straight through my defences and ripped by crystal a new one, and there I was, sat in my chair, shocked as to how in the world I had managed to lose on the first level.

This game was designed for 2-4 player co-op, and it does not go easy on the lone wolves of gaming. However, as a loner, I had to continue regardless.

Upon failing the level I found myself in the games “level-select” area, a place where all great adventures begin: the Tavern. In the tavern was my crystal, which allows me to travel between the missions in Dungeon Defenders, a Defenders Forge, which allowed me to switch between multiple Heroes, and the barkeep, who sells armour, weapons and pets for you character.

What the barkeep sells is shuffled between each delve into a mission, so every time you come back to the Tavern a different set of items will be waiting for you to buy. Luckily for me there was a lightning powered wakizashi within my price range that increased my damage by quite a lot, so I bought it, levelled up my characters stats with the XP I had earned, and headed back into the first level and tried again, this time succeeding to defeat the Orcs and complete the level! (Cue fanfare)

I then continued onto the next level, which had five waves again but this time had a more complex route to defend, and tougher enemies. I set up my defences, started the round and am immediately defeated by three Orcs and a hell of a lot of imps.

This game is hard, so very very hard, with a hugely steep difficulty curve, however it provides a well-balanced death. Every failure is a chance to try again with a slightly stronger and richer character, and with four classes and four difficulties spread over 13 missions, this game provides countless hours of entertainment and challenges. On top of all that the missions can each be played in Survival Mode, in which you do not get any defences and must survive using only you hero and his abilities, or Strategy Mode, where you must protect the crystal using only defences and towers.

Still not satisfied with the amount of content available in the game, Trendy Entertainment made it so that for every campaign level completed, a challenge level is unlocked, these challenges are variations of the standard gameplay where you’ll be attacking instead of defending, protecting a teleporting crystal as it zooms around the map or even crazier stuff such as one player being the chicken and is unable to jump and dies easily. Finally to top it all off there is a PvP mode where you and your friends can battle each other in an arena.

All of this content, combined with unique gameplay, easily outweighs the minor grievance of the sloppy camera controls and barren tutorial, and will keep you coming back for more and more of this masochistically difficult, yet insanely fun Tower Defence/Action-RPG genre-bending masterpiece. Bravo Trendy Entertainment and I certainly can’t wait to see games as brilliant as this in the future from you.


Sunday, 2 October 2011

Nuclear Dawn Review

Ever since I played "Dino D-Day" I've been slightly worried about source mods converting into a indie games, especially the multiplayer ones such as "Orion Prelude" and "Nuclear Dawn". I've been watching ND for some time and was slightly mixed on it, but you know what they say "never judge a book by it's cover" so what is this
game made up of?

The main quirk of Nuclear Dawn is you can switch from a FPS view to a top down RTS view where you can place buildings such as turrets and dispensers. There two big catches to this; one you haft to be a commander to do this and two everything needs a little thing call electricity. This gives a new dynamic to the game. However though you may think it, but this isn't a new idea in fact this hole action RTS idea was nocking around back in the old Half-Life 1 days. "Natural Selection" first had the exact same idea (which in fact a sequel for Natural Selection is planed to come out next year).

The problem I had with "Natural Selection" was that being a commander was hard and extremely confusing to understand. "Nuclear Dawn" fixes this problem with some very easy to understand tutorials, however the problem is that there's no practice mode so the only way to refine your skills is in multiplayer. Also getting picked to be a commander is just blind luck and half the time you'll get kicked. Now I was only able to play about 5 times as commander so needless to say I didn't really master it.

Most maps are well built and has this strange feeling that your always progressing, I haven't really put my finger on it but it maybe due to the fact that the levels are made for you to go anywhere so flanking is key and easy to do. There are some levels I didn't like, for example "Metro" didn't really work however I put that down to the colour pallet, everything just blends together into a ugly look. However Metro is just the exception most of the maps are vibrant and easy to navigate. It's design I truly praise in Level Design because you can see where your going and what your doing and the maps still has this style that makes it stand out and fun to play.

There are four classes to choose from which boil down to assault, spy, heavy and support. Each of these classes has different load-outs to choose from and there own special skill. For example the spy's special skill is that he can tern invisible and backstab players, while assault has a sort of inferred view which can see invisible spies. There very well balanced and are all very distinct. Most classes come with at-least two different load outs for example the assault class has a machine gun load out, a sniper load out and a grenade launcher loud out. Each comes with 2 perk slots which you can pick.

You unlock perks from levelling up the problem is that there's no point to this levelling up system, it would be allot better if you had all the perks unlocked from the beginning as you can only pick one perk at the beginning and levels take so long that it takes forever and your thinking to yourself "was it worth the wait" the answer most of the time is "no doesn't fit my style" also there about 12 perks in total so there's only going to be two or three you'll find useful.

Of things to come from Nuclear Dawn. As it uses Valves Source engine a SDK is on the way and the Devs say that the best community made maps will make it into the updates and become official maps (like in TF2) So modders get ready. Also in the original Nuclear Dawn mod vehicles where going to be included however they haven't made it into the game. However recently in a interview with the devs vehicles where talked about and it seemed like there could be something coming later down the line, but only time will tell if it's true or not.

Interwave have made a fantastic little game which is well made and has a lot of polished. I hope this game gets a big community because I would love to play more of this. Keep your eyes on these people because there's a lot of talent here.

Liam Hackett

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Warhammer 40K Space Marine Review

The Warhammer series, while I only once ever got into the actual board game as a kid I've always liked most of the Warhammer games especially the Dawn of War games. Relic has a long history with Warhammer and you can tell they have a lot of love for the series which transcends into the overall quality of their games. Now Relic has released there next Warhammer game "Space Marine" a third person shooter. So does this game keep their high standards of quality Dawn of War has or does it just fall flat on its face?

The first thing you may be thinking is "isn't this just a Gears of War rip of?" and my answer would be "No you fool! Gears of War has a cover system",  at first this can be very strange as you see all these chest high walls and your instinctive is just to dive for then and take cover. However this game isn't designed to be like that, it's designed for you to just run in and smash everything in sight! It's very refreshing, to see a game like this and it's done very well. For example weapons have a lot of weight behind them. The amazing thing is how many weapons there are and how different they turn out to be. There are plasma pistols, Laser cannons, a Team Fortress 2 style sticky grenade launcher and much much more. They all have their own uneek look and feel. However there is a lack of shotguns which is slightly disappointing.

The game lasts  around 7 hours which is pretty short in my view however now a days a game can be 4 hours and still get away with it, so make it as you will. For me the game did become repetitive by the end but thanks to a story twist the game stays fresh for the last few hours. Oh about the story! It's pretty generic but very cheesy. You play as Captain Titus a Ultramarine and all round bad-ass. You are sent to find and defend a weapon ageist army of Orks on a Forge world (a world that's one big factory). Later on there's another super weapon and then plot twist (Think of a Monty Python Sketch about the Spanish) upon plot twist. The story in general as I said earlier is very generic however there are some funny bits (however I feel that it's unintentionally). Sometimes I did get a little confused about what they’re talking about however if you’re a Warhammer fan then you'll know what they’re talking about.

The level design and aesthetic of the game is well made even if I do have a few problems with some areas, it's not that there bad just empty. There are some great areas in the game and with some set pieces so nothing gets to boring. One of my Favourite parts of the game where you’re in a ship shooting down Orks, it's good because it breaks up the action and doesn't out stay its welcome. Another thing I love is the Jet pack; it's probably the best thing in the game! However the annoying part is that there's only 3 times in the game you can use it! I put this under "don't have too much of a good thing", which works to its advantage every time I saw a pod I was hoping for the jet pack.

The multiplayer is average at best; I didn't really enjoy it that much mainly because balance wasn't that good so i was fighting ageist people who had more powerful weapons than me. Also there are only two game types Team Deathmatch and Domination. However one big stand out point is the customization, there's hundreds of thousands of armour you can choose and equip so almost everyone is different. 

Sadly what are probably the game’s best modes; Co-op and Exterminatus Warhammer's take on Horde mode.  These modes will be coming out in October and I'll make a edit in this review to talk about them. From what I've played of the single player Horde mode would be a great mode, not like a Gears of War where your hiding behind walls, no you’re going to be up close and personal bashing Orks, flying into Orks, blowing up Orks it's just going to be awesome.

All in all Space Marine is an above average game right now. However if everything turns out right with the updates then you have a good game but only time will tell if it plans out that well. For now though I would wait till the update. 

Liam Hackett 

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Deus Ex Human Revolution Review

Deus Ex one was and still is one of the greatest games of all time, it pioneered and showed the way of what games could be.Showing that Stories could be more than just save the princess and gameplay can be complex.   Games like "Mass Effect”, “Dragon Age”, and The Fallout games are all based from what Deus Ex did. Four years later a squeal to Deus Ex came out call "Invisible War" which redefined what the word "shit" with its stupid controls lack lustier story and gameplay and it was all around bad. Now 7 years later Deus Ex Human Revolution has come and is trying to give us a game that is as good as the original. So does this Revolution succeeds or is crushed by its brother.

The story takes place 20 years prior to the original so genetic augmentations are unknown but mechanical augmentations are in full swing and making people scared. You play Adam Jensen an ex-Swat now turned chief of security at one of the companies who design augmentations "Serif industries". At the beginning of the game Serif is attacked by unknown forces (let’s just call them terrorists for now), during this attack the terrorists kill what I think is your love interest's scientists and you (Adam) are gravely injured. This leaves you to become the Six Million Dollar Man! Adam is better, Stronger and Faster than he once was. So after the intro it's time to let the conspiracies begin! As everything after the intro is really difficult to explain without spoiling the whole game and taking moments out of the game will just make you confused I’ll just cut this short. The Story is really really good, if you’re a fan of conspiracy books you'll love this story sometimes it can be a bit by the numbers but all in all it's a good story and something you shouldn't miss.  I finished the game in around 11-15 hours however I do know I missed some things so you can consider it a 20 hour campaign if you feel like doing every single thing Deus Ex has to offer. 

Now for the gameplay and let me tell you that this really makes this game into a good game to a great game. The great thing about any Deus Ex game (including that other game) is that you could really the level your way ether going guns blazing or slick and sneaky. I personally went with a stealthy approach never going thought the front always the back way (yeah yeah har har), using a stun gun and silenced pistol, this got me though 90% of the game and was always effective for most of the game. The problem is that someone thought it would be a good idea to put boss battles in the game (oh it gets worse), the bosses are only really effected by weapons such as machine guns and shotguns. So if you’re like me you find yourself using a pistol which is like using a water pistol ageist a lion, it rarely works out. The last boss especially is a complete nightmare and there’s a special place in hell reserved for the man (or woman) who designed that boss. To be perfectly franc to the designers, boss battles haven't been relevant since 1999 and they just end up bring a sledge hammer down on the almost perfect pacing of the game. That said the final level is also a nightmare as ammo for pistols become obsolete and enemies come in huge waves leaving you with no choice but to use the heavy machine gun, however as I can't really find a way they could of fixed this without disrupting the atmosphere of the game I think I’ll let them off this one.

Talking of atmosphere the game brings a truly original art style of which I've hardly seem a style like it (only in one or two indie titles but that's it). It brings Deus Ex from an average looking game to something that stands out. It's yellow and black aesthetic pleases the eyes making the game look better than it probably is (there’s a physiology article about this but I can't find it). However areas of the game blend together becoming one so nothing really stands out and become forgettable. There are two main locations Detroit and Heng Sha, why couldn't one of thoughts locations have a different art aesthetic? They are different cultures after all.

Now for the augmentations, this is what makes a Deus Ex game. Deus Ex has a bucket load of augmentations from super strength to invisibility and there all 100% customized to your liking. for example I went with a high hacking skill with invisibility and super strength. This worked well as turning on invisibility darting to cover without being seen and sneaking pass enemies was a good was to no being seen. The only downside is that some augmentations take up a huge amount of energy and your power supply isn't the biggest in the world. So most times I would just not use them and stick with instant take downs (which takes a whole bar of energy) and normal ways of progression. You can upgrade your energy however it's not very useful because if you use up one bar it won't recharge unless you eat an energy bar, which can be quite annoying at times.

I didn't really mind the hacking mini game it was OK better than other games (Bioshock) and sometime it got frenetic which is good. Finally a thumbs up for the truly impressive soundtrack thought the game, really gave the game an extra layer of enjoyment.    

All in all Deus Ex Human Revolution is just brilliant probably one of my game of the year games (with Portal 2 and... ummmm) I do have a few gripes with it like no melee weapons (except for the take-downs) but I didn't really mind till the middle of the game and a few areas of the games. However I forgive them with the story, gameplay and the little Easter eggs though out the game that just make it a Deus Ex game. So pick it up you won't regret it.

Liam Hackett

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Hitman Blood Money Review

Now I know I haven't written a review since April (Dino D-Day) so I missed games like Duke Nukem, Alice the Madness Returns... um Dungeons and Dragons: Daggerdale, none of them I was really panning to review well may Duke however I was still very busy and so I only played it a little bit but what I did play of it... It was pretty awful so much so that I got artistic all off a sudden.

Anyway Hitman. The only Hitman game I had played before Blood Money was the very first one; this was a good few years ago. What I can remember back then was that it was fun but extremely frustrating due to AI that could see though your disguise in a matter of mini seconds, now I play Blood Money and I wonder why I haven't heard of this game as much as i have.

You play as Agent 47 the world’s greatest and most secretive assassin, (Ezio eat your heart out!)well that's what the game tells you fact of the matter if your anything like me well... let’s say secretive and to be honest greatest is not what you would call him if your anything like me, think more along the lines of loud, clumsy and maybe a bit trigger happy. 

The best thing about this is that the game lets you do this, you muck up by being spotted carrying a pistol in your normal suit it's not game over you still have a change just go James Bond and go guns blazing with your pistol picking up other weapons on the way. The bad thing is that the controls don't really support this type of gameplay. Controlling 47 isn't really like controlling a tank but its close. Shooting is very easy to do and getting headshots are a little too easy to get in my opinion.

The main aim of the game is to assassinate certain people with little notoriety and to make it all seem like he just happened to accidently trip and fall over a balcony head first into a pit of spiky rocks. The way you do this is to silently sneak up on people (such as security guards) kill then or sedate them. From there you take their cloths or anything else important like key cards, from there you casual walk around the area looking for opportunities to take out your targets without being noticed. Sometimes you’re completely stumped on how you’re meant to do this but after a good 5 or 6 times of trial and error before getting it and then it just seem easy. 

After every mission you get ranked on how well you did by how noisy you where, how violent you where to people who are not your targets (guards, citizens and so on) your finally given a notoriety rating out of a hundred which will affect you on later missions by how well people can spot you and become alerted to your presents this is easily fixed by bribing police chiefs or threatening witnesses. You’re finally given a name on how well you did (for example "The Ghost" or "Silent Assassin"). Added to this game is the cost that the agency ( where you get the missions from) hast to pay to get back your suit or any custom weapons you may of dropped, which affects how much money you get payed for the mission which then open up upgrades for you weapons.

Talking of Weapons I didn't really use any of the rifles or shotguns in the game, I always carried my pistol but that was it, apart from the weapons I already got by default (fibre wire and syringes) however seeing how you can play this game in a different ways I can say I never used them because I was always the sneaky type of assassin by you may if your choosing to use a sniper rifle or assault rifle to rush in to your missions and quickly take them out.

I only have to gripes with the game, one of them I can't really blame them and the other one is a design destitution. The first grip is the AI, sometimes you put on a disguise but your still not aloud to go to curtain areas, the game sometimes doesn't make this very clear and if you go into a area that you’re not allowed to go too by one millimetre every single guard will come running after you guns blazing! 

My second and final grip is that there's not Level Editor! This game is prime for a Level Editor and it wouldn't be that hard and I could see some very talented people making fantastic maps but unfortunately there isn't one and so when looking online for some sort of community group to get Hitman 1 to work on Windows 7 (if anyone knows how to do this on Steam please email me) there was little to no one still on any message boards however it's slowly growing thanks to another Hitman game coming out soon. (I’m looking forward for it).

All in all Hitman Blood Money is a very enjoyable game very well polished well rounded game, I finished this in around 10 hours which is a good length it never lacks or becomes boring, once you start the game your stuck playing it to the end. I pick the whole collection for around five pounds (it was the Steam summer sale) but if you want to get the collection now it's now £17.97 but you can get Blood Money for five pounds. For any type of stealth pick it up, you won't regret it.

Liam Hackett

Monday, 4 July 2011

CANVAS Interview

*First off sorry for this video format my side of the interview had a few problems with audio so I had to do the text thing, I you like it then put it in the comments and i'll probably do this as common place in most interviews* CANVAS is a single player mod for Half-Life 2 episode 2. Hope you enjoy! 

Nightfall: Initiation
Means to Escape  
Desert Zombie 

Friday, 1 July 2011

Wittyreviews: GOSICK

I have no joke to make here :/

When I get the charts for the next anime season, I try to have at least one of everything. Is there a mecha show? I'll check it out. A comedy looking thing? On the list. And I will try to have at least one show that can be considered "serious business". This is actualy the hardest one for me to fill, simply because of one simple thing: I am very picky. Hard to believe I know, I think the third season of Zero no Tsukaima was good, I can put up a decent defensive arguement for Girls Bravo and I consider Neon Genesis Evangelion to be one of the greatest abominations to ever slap it's balls on the anime genre. As you can tell, I have bizare taste and, honestly, I first picked up GOSICK because there didn't seem to be anything better on that I could take seriously. Keep in mind, this was the season when I had the twin onslaught of Rio: Rainbow Gate and Dragon Crisis to deal with and I REALLY needed something with substance to ballance out the sheer amount of retardation presented to me by Rio, and the amount of eh given to me by Dragon Crisis. Now, allow me to say that I liked GOSICK alot, I mean ALOT. It was a refreshing breath of air in a medium that's currently being saturated in mediocrity or, worse, just plain badness. But enough of that rambling, let's get on with the content, shall we?

Now, I've never read the novel, so I can't tell you how well it holds up to it, but I can give you the gist based on what I've seen. We are thrown into the made up kingdom of Saubure in 1924. Kazuya Kujo, a transfer student from Japan (even in those days we had them huh?) and enlists in an academy within the country. As it turns out, people in those parts love mysteries, ghost stories especialy, and he just happens to stumble across one. One of the more famous academt stories proves true, as he discovers upon entering the academys library tower amd meets a mysterious girl called Victorique, a girl so hyper intelligent that she solves cases even the police and detectives can't solve for breakfast. The nice thing about this plot, is that it develops way past this simple tale into something much more complex and intertwineing and you'll often find yourself caught up in the momentum. It goes from simple murder mystery to political intrigue, snakeing into the power struggle within the country and the eventual outbreak of the Second World War. The only real issue is that some of the mysteries, the early ones especialy, are a little too easy and you'll find yourselves working out the answer sometimes even before the characters do.

The real enjoyment though, comes from the character interaction between Kujo and Victorique. Some people might find Kujo to be a little bit grateing at times, and with good reason. He sometimes falls victim to the narrative quirk alot of anime protagonists suffer from with being completely blind to another persons feelings, not through malice, but simply because he just doesn't pick up on it. He's been given the nickname by viewers "Denseman" for a reason you know. He can be very sweet an endearing when he tries however, and it's this that makes him more than tollerable to anyone willing to just go with it. Victorique is a totaly different story. Though being a little girl, she manages to keep up the haughty attitude even in extreme danger. At times though, it's clear that she's still young and vunerable, as when the series progresses the very thought of never seeing Kujo again makes her break into tears. Her intelligance can be debated heavily, howerver. Though they offer explanation for it in the show, it's not entirely clear where it comes from, how she got it or, indeed, when it can be used. It's as though she can't even make an educated guess untill she has all the necessary information. If I had to compare it, I'd say it's a little like Miss Marple, she quietly works it all out in her head and comes to the correct conclusion. She also has one of the best laughs ever, just saying, and can also be kind of cute when she wants to be.


There are several other characters, and I could spend a long time talking about them, but it's not entirely clear how some of them develop. Thankfully, all of them are very strong and don't require too much of a change for them to fit nicely into the plot from begining to end.

The artwork is fitting, given the time period, with a nice amount of gothic archetecture thrown in. I'm sure there are alot of people who can pick out the small historical inaccuracies within it. The animation is also pretty fluid and pleasent to look at if that's your kind of thing.

Music wise, you'll barely notice any of the in-anime songs that play on occasion. While the opening never changes throughout the show, there are two ending themes. Both of them are by Lisa Komine and they reflect the dramatic change in story tone perfectly when it eventualy happens. The first is serious while keeping itself lighter hearted (and, of course, in the begining, all the interest is in finding out more about Victoriques mysterious past) and the second...well, you'll see for yourself. The opening, by yoshika*lisa, while not perfect does fit the show pretty well. And here's a neat little trick, mute the opening and play the Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann opening song over it. Tell me it doesn't fit, I dare you. Aoi Yuuki (Mina Tepes, Dance in the Vampire Bund) does an incredible job as Victorique and deserves alot of credit for it. The rest of the cast do a decent enough job, while nothing particularly note worthy coming to mind.

GOSICK recieved quite a bit of hype leading up towards its release. Quite alot of people didn't believe it could live up to the novel, as we all know anime based off of books or manga are rarely as good or better than their source material *cough*SoraNoOtoshimono*cough*, but equaly I haven't heard any major complaints by these people either, so I hope they were pleasently supprised. I have to give kudos to Bones for this one, they did a very good job with GOSICK and I find it hard to even think of one single complaint I could have for it apart from the slight frustrations one might have with Kujo. Now, I'm perfectly aware GOSICK has both novels and manga as it's source material, but there's one, small problem. They were both distributed by Tokyopop. TOKYOPOP. This means that I am almost totaly unable to read them unless I hunt them down on the net or sink into my bank account and order them off of Amazon which is also likely to be close to impossible very soon. When all aspects are considered, I'd find it hard to live with myself if I gave GOSICK anything less than a 10. A 9 at the very least but, ever the optomist, my final score has to be:

Final Score: 10/10

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Dino D Day Review

Dino D Day originally a Source Mod, has gone the way of "The Ball" and have turned Independent. Dinosaurs’ vs. humans seems a cool idea but can it really work? Well let’s see if it does!

First thing I must say that there are barely any servers and the times I played there were NO objective game mode! This means that this review will only go over Team Death match and King of the Hill. Sadly the objective mode is meant to be the main game, it's the one shown in the trailers with the Tyrannosaurus and Triceratops. I don't know why this mode is not being played, I was playing for three hours and in all that time NO ONE was playing objective, I asked someone about this and they didn't even know that there was an objective game mode! Anyway with that out the way.

There are 3 types of Dinosaur; the "normal" fast running type like the Raptor and the Dilophosaurus.  A tank like dinosaur with a Rocket launcher on its back (Desmatosuchus) and a Teradactal which is a summon for the German sniper. The only problem with this is; there not balanced, two of the Dinosaurs are not fun to play as, and the allies don't get Dinosaurs. OK, OK let me explain why. The Raptor is probably the most unbalanced. The Raptor is the fastest character in the game, this would be OK but they make them tiny and have an ability to kill a person instantly. The developers tried to compensate by giving the sniper a rabbit that will distract the Raptor for 10 seconds, there's no way to avoid being killed by the Raptors by their special attack (even if someone kills them in their animation your already dead) same for when your distracted by a rabbit, there's no way out of it. This is a big annoyance on both sides.

As I said about two of the Dinosaurs we're not fun to play as this is the Dilophosaurus, which is a tall Raptor like Dinosaur which is played in the third person and is controlled in the third person, the bad thing about this is that it controls like a tank which is a problem with another one of the dinosaurs. (Desmatosuchus get to that later) I wouldn't mind if it moved like a tank, however the model is long and the doorways are thing meaning that you'll keep getting stuck in doors. Turning is annoying and is not fluid. The Dilophosaurus can pick up and throw goats that are scattered around the levels, when thrown at the other team and hit anywhere on the body ends up being an instant kill which is very easy to do meaning it's another annoyance for the Allies. Also if you run and attack the enemy he'll get thrown to the floor where you can pick up the enemy and throw them at a wall. This also instantly kills them.

Finally the Desmatosuchus. This is probably the most balanced dinosaur. It's a small, slow dinosaur with a AT gun on their back. There's not much really to say about it really. It's slow and balanced. The Teradactal is a special ability used by the German snipers; the Teradactal is more a suicide bomber than anything. The Bomb has a wide range however you can use it way to often and in a king of the kill game is an easy way to take over the flag and hold it.

The normal soldiers are bland and plane they have no personality to them only a few one liners every so often. One of the big problems is getting people to join the Allies as there so plain that no one wants to play them; they want to play as the Dinosaurs. Which raises the question why didn’t the Allies get Dinosaurs? I know it's part of the storyline (which is only apparent through the trailers) but there no storyline in the game apart for "THE GERMANS HAVE DINOSAURS!” So why don't the Allies get Dinosaurs so there's arguments over the teams?

There are tons and I mean tons of glitches in this game from animations not working, desktop crash, servers not working and hit boxes not responding. This game bores on being a Beta and someone I was playing with did think it was a paid beta. Presentation isn't at all good, basic lighting (which becomes apparent when you can't see where you’re going in a few levels), basic textures and basic models. It lacks polish too; models sometimes levitate off the ground! Also another thing not present is a level editor which is almost compulsory for a Source game. 

It's a shame that the gameplay is so bad, the jokes and art aesthetics (such as a poster, loading screens so on) are really good, and it’s just a shame about everything else. This game is more of a mod than anything else, and a not very good one at that. It's a shame if there was a little bit more polish and fixed the balance issues, a good game is in there... somewhere... I think. Sadly this game has little to no community so chances are that this game will disappear soon.

Liam Hackett