Saturday, 29 January 2011

Wittyreviews: Magicka

"Ok, so, what's the plan?"

Magicka is a game of wizards, goblins, trolls et al but NOT VAMPIRES, AT ALL, NONE. It mixes psuedo RPG elements with plenty of humor, but is it trying to be funny? Or is it a hidden gem? Well, the answer to both those questions is yes...and no. There's plenty of things right with it but a few things wrong aswell. Alot of them are down to personal preference, though, so you may or may not find them a problem. Does it deter from the overall enjoyment? Well, yes quite frankly but it really is all up to opinion.

First of all, let's get the obvious out of the way. The game has several modes, Adventure, Challenge and Multiplayer. Exploring the main menu, already I have a problem. There's no way to alter your controls, at all. And that's where you might find a small bit of annoyance, the idea behind the magic in the game is that you can combine spells for more devistating attacks. A good idea, yes, except that it requires you to use your keyboard to combine them and move by holding down your left mouse button. The keys you need to combine spells include W A S D, so those of you used to using that button combination to move may find it a bit of a learning curve. Well, I tell a lie, you CAN change which keys do what, but you're still unable to change which button you press to move. Next obvious problem, the codeing is a nightmare. I know I'm not the only one who's noticed this, but the game crashes repeatedly just getting to the main menu. And then, you find out the buttons only work SOME of the time. I've gotten killed before because when I slammed the key to use a fire spell, it didn't work. And it's not me, I switched keyboards and still have the same problem. I checked the connection, no that wasn't it either.

This one really speaks for itself
Speaking of controls, it's very simple. To move in any direction you move around your mouse while holding down the left mouse button. No problem, right? No, except the right mouse button makes enemies fly backwards after you throw wind at them, and you can't do it while moving. You can comine spells into whatever combos you feel comfortable for just about everything. For instance, combineing the heal spell with the shield spell creates shock wave throwing, healing landmines. Which brings us to the next problem, your spells work on everyone and I do mean EVERYONE. You can heal the enemy, you can kill your allies and I mean ALL of your allies. This can be especialy annoying if they're in the way of your spells and you can't get a clear shot. Among those aspects of the gameplay is the voice acting, it's not bad...if it can be judged in this instance. All characters, apart from the Narrator but I'll get to him in a bit, speak in some made up language that sounds like what you get if you slam your fist on the keyboard multiple times. It sounds like some wierd hybrid of French, German and Itallian, it's strange. Moving right along, I'd also like to point out the presence of melee weapons that serve no purpous. You can't use them to hack at enemies and they do nothing to defend you so...why are they in it? Now, don't get me wrong, the game is fun to play, it's just not groundbreaking. These things keep it back from going from good to great. But let's not forget the story!

Yes, this game has a plot. A very simple one, but a plot none the less! You are...someone going to Havindr to aid the King in defence of the capital city reason. Alright so it's not brain taxing but it doesn't need to be, this is a game just having fun with itself. I'll leave it to you, the reader, to decide what the means. We start off getting a Narration by a guy who is totaly not a vampire and then we are given instructions by a guy named Vlad who isn't a vampire at all. And, is it me, or does the magic academy you're in look alot like the one in Avencast? I dunno, it just looks familiar. Ah yes, I forgot to mention, this whole story takes place in Unnamed Land #56 since not once are you told if this is Earth or Ferelden or Azaroth of whatisthisIdon'teven.jpg land. It also has quite the Goblin problem since they seem to be everywhere. Goblins have the annoying power of jumping on your back and running around leaving you unable to aim properly unless you execute the dangerous and evil task of hitting the space bar, seriously. This game also has a strange habit of making fun of other games while also making fun of itself. At one point you bump into a lady with a yellow ! over her head, clearly a reference to WoW, who mentions she'll pay you to destroy her rat problem. Goblins then attack, after you destroy them she says that she would pay you but "This game doesn't have a proper inventory system so I guess I can't". I even spotted a Games Workshop reference, a Godsplitter Hammer from DoW 1 outside a small house with the words "Grams Workshop" on a sign next to it. An RPG referenced Dawn of War...that just blew my mind.

Now! I'd like to point out before you all either raeg or agree with me, that this game is clearly meant to be played in groups. It's not a game for a single person, though it can be done as such. But, I fail to see how that can make it any better. Surely aiming, fireing and moving around the enemy would make it even harder than it already is. "Ah yes, but!", I hear you say, "You can hit your allies in Left4Dead, and that doesn't cause a problem". Well, yes, that's true, but in Left4Dead you barely do any damage to your allies unless you empty repeated clips into them on purpous. In Magicka, you deal the same amount of damage no matter who you hit. A sense of realism maybe? Yes, because the game has been soooo realistic so far huh? And that's another thing, this game is only realistic some of the time. An explosion right in your face that collapses the floor only does a few points of damage to you, but stepping off the shore line into the water kills you instantly?

So we have a game with barely a plot with awkward gameplay. Is that bad? Well it depends on what you expect from the game. It's a comedy, it's not supposed to be taken seriously. But, that said, I can think of another game that did that and was still amazing.
Ye Olde Holy

Yes, exactly. But seriously, the game isn't bad per se, it's good for a laugh and a weekends enjoyment. It's certainly not going on my top 5 list this year if I ever make one, but it's fun if you have nothing else to do and fancy some over the top gameplay for an afternoon. But really, the game needs patching like RIGHT NOW. Addressing the codeing issues, allowing you to turn off friendly fire maybe. Do all that, and I think it would be a very good game.

Final Score: 2.5/5

By: Wittyreviewer

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Tales from the Galactopticon Interview

Today I interviewed one of the main Developers (Jaanus) behind the game “Tales from the Galactopticon”.If you like the look of the game and your experienced programmer or Level Designer with Source then contact Jaanus with your Portfolio and you could be involved with this project. Anyway enough of me let’s get on with the interview.

First question why did you choose Source not Unreal or Unity?
Well, all the developers come from Facepunch and more or less have a history of modding Source. So we're sticking to what's familiar to us.

So far we’ve seen a sort of style in the future with futuristic 50s styled weapons so what can we expect from other levels?
The only styled 50s weapon is the Johnny gun. We're trying to get that gritty blade runner or futuristic max payne feel to it and some of the interiors are inspired by Mirror's Edge. We haven't fleshed out the future levels yet, one step at a time.

Will we go to different planets or are we only going to be on one?
Different planets definitely, There will be at least three planets in the game. New New York (with its moon New New Jersey) - A planet entirely covered with cities this is where you start the game. Laituur - The protagonist's home planet where the British Empire has established colonial rule and is exploiting the planet for its resources. finally Kazzin, a trade megalopolis.

Will with have different styles for every planet?
Yeah well, New New York has this max payne noire look and feel to it; Rainy, dark and mysterious. while Laituur is a peaceful jungle planet, so they will definitely have different styles.

How long will the game be?
It's going to be as long as it's going to be. We don't like to estimate things.

As long as a normal mod? (ie Human Error)
Nope, we’re aiming for quality, not quantity as I said; we don't like to estimate things about the mod one step at a time.

The quality is allot better than you see from normal mods especially for alpha. So why haven't you gone indie as you would surly make a success?
Because we're largely a group of artists with limited technical and programming skills. We're using the source engine because we all have significant experience with it. Using things we know how to use is a great way to cut down on production time.

Will there be any Co-op mod or Multiplayer?
Multiplayer, yes. Co-op, undecided. We haven't really thought about it much, we want to finish building the first level before we start on the multiplayer but it will be something like quake or UT Fast-paced and somewhat over the top.

Will we have any companion through the game or is it you and no companion?
Yes, the companion will be Kalasha who is an ex-marine badass lizard chick.

Will there be Just action or puzzles or something else?
Haven't decided that yet, we have only fleshed out the first level.

How meny weapons are there?
At least a few more than there are now, no idea yet. We have nothing set in stone.

Liam Hackett

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Fallout New Vegas Review (more Discussion)

Back when Fallout 3 came out I was little more than a small YouTuber posting small reviews on the web, oh how I look on thoughts days with fond memories... and cringe worthy ones when I actually open up and look at one of the videos but still, the point being that Fallout 3 was the Second (of sorts) review I had done! So we've come full circle almost two years after my Fallout 3 review where here looking at its sequel of sorts. What does this have to do with the game, absolutely nothing now let’s take a look at Fallout New Vegas.

You play as a courier, who at the start of the game gets shot in the head. Well that was a quick game, oh wait it's still going. Well seems that now a days you can survive a bullet to the head and are quickly revived by a local doctor and after a quick tutorial where you customise your player, build your stats and pick your perks your thrown out into the big open world where dreams are made or lost in a blind of a eye... wait where the hell is the big lights? The Casino's? VAGUS!? Oh wait I’m in a town not too far from Vegas ok I'll stick around do some quests here then move on to Vegas to continue the main quest. An hour or two later I get going after finishing up a local gang of thugs and helping out a struggling trader I moved on. Actually I would like to add that I hardly ever returned to any off Nevada’s town. I just had no incentive to go back and revisit any of the past areas mainly because there was nothing left for me to see, back in Fallout 3 I always went back to old areas because I always felt that there was still something I missed on my last visit, here I got the feeling that I had seen everything and there was nothing left for me to see. Like they've purposely killed some of the exploration. However I must say that there were a few places that I loved such as Boomer town and Black Mountain however there in the Minority and I can still remember places in Fallout 3 that where cool and full of nick-knacks and places to explore such as the Megaton, Super-Duper Mart and Oasis (which all sound like/are bands).

Anyway as I was saying after finishing off all the quests at Goodsprings (The starting place) I moved out and went onto where the main quest wanted me to go. To a little place called primm. Where I was met with little hospitality, so I got my way through to where I needed to go and finding out that there's trouble in their town as there Sherriff has been killed and there deputy Sherriff has been captured. So you’re sent in to get him back. Anyway long story short I sort out there Sherriff problem and find out where I need to go. Then it hit me... I'M GOING THE WRONG WAY! I don't want to go to the opposite side of the map I want to go to Vegas! Sorry is this game called "Fallout New Vegas" or "Fallout New Nevada"! You know I know a way to fix this, why not send the player to Vegas however you can't enter till you get enough money to enter. Which they do however they do this way to late in the game, once you find out that you need money you find work that sends you all round the Mojave while sniffing out clues about who shot you. This wouldn't only fix the problem of us trekking all round the world map to a place we wanted to go ever since we started the game, but it would also give us incentive to look around some more knowing that the more we find that more we learn about the world, not oh I wonder if this will get us to Vegas quicker. I know you could just walk to Vegas straight away but you’re not accomplishing anything story wise and there's no pat on the back like a quest would do (with experience).

Anyway back to the story, after doing a almost three quarter circle on yourself and almost six hours of gameplay you finally reach Vegas and the first thing you find yourself saying is "ABOUT F****ING TIME!". Then you find out that you need two thousand caps this is what I suggested not only a minute ago however now it's used to extend the gameplay for no reason and now it's very obvious that it is thanks to us not only hours ago traipsing round following a bread crumb trail to every part of the map that's not within 3 miles of Vegas. Anyway so you need a job which you can get in many ways such as working for a group of scientists investigating a vault with strange plant life (a good quest by the way) to working on small tasks concerning a caravan company from buying someone's else’s company to making a employee lose his job (not a very good quest). After I got two thousand caps I entered Vegas. Once you enter "The Strip" you... Hang on.... Where the hell is everyone? HELLO HELLOO. Vegas is lifeless, I'm not kidding once I got there all I found where robots, one stripper and a man in the corner starring at her. This isn't Vegas this is F***ING BHS! Where the hell is the blearing music (not a radio in the corner mildly annoying you), the homeless in suits and the excitement? (I'll get to this in the gameplay)

Huuuu this games story has been a disaster so far, I hope the rest of the game isn't this bad. Anyway I finally meet Mr House... and this is where the game gets interesting. Finally we have something with thought and a meaning behind it that you feel involved in and play a part in. Basically the game should start from here, you find out the Benny (the guy who shot you) has betrayed him by stealing a platinum chip the very thing you find out that got you that big hole in your head. SO he tells you to retrieve the chip in any way you see fit. You find Benny and after a stunned (if you can call it that) reaction asks you to have a chat in his office. You find out that Benny wants to take over Vegas and he wants you to help him, well as he shot me in the head I decided to do the best thing and beat him to death with a Snooker Cue! After that I did what any man (or woman) would do in that sort of situation and steal everything in his pockets, well except his suit (its sooooo tacky). Anyway after exploring his apartment you find "Yes Man" a robot with a personality, which brings me to my biggest gripe about the story and to be honest it's not really a gripe more an missed opportunity. After your first meeting with "Yes Man" you can very easily not meet him again which is kind of sad as he's a great character and could of used him in interesting ways. For example you could have had "Yes Man" take over one of “The Strips” robots and attack you. This wouldn't just keep you on edge when you visit the Strip, but you could of done some clever story twist where every robot taken over by "Yes Man" develops sentience where the turmoil of the robots new feelings will be more than "Mr House" can control, giving a new faction of "Feral Robots". Or (I'm on a roll today) when "Yes Man" takes over one this could symbolise that in everyone however kind or happy they may seem on the outside, inside burrowed away is a emotion of anger and hate that could snap at any moment leaving a mad and insane person (or robot in this case) to kill the one thing that he hates the most (being you the player). However what we have instead is nothing he's just thrown out the story.

Talking of which I haven't mentioned the new faction system. Unlike Fallout 3 you can choose between 5 factions, which change the game for the best as now you feel like you’re doing something in the world as when you hover over a town in your pit-boy it will tell you if your liked or hated and so on this just gives you more involvement in the goings on of the world however as I said once you've been to a town once (outside the Vegas) there's no reason to go back, If there was something like an update system where a town will call for help as they're being attack by a different faction or local gang. This would make you go back to these towns to help them and if you don't you lose fame with them. This would also tie into the story as events are set in place for the inevitable battle at Hover Dam.

Gunplay is still a little...awful really. Well let me explain. It's not the actual guns that are the problem it's more the aiming ridicule (Crosshair), you can't it well for the most part especially with machine guns! In fact the guns I really stuck with where the rifles, why? Because they have a better chance of hitting your target than any other gun. However guns aren’t or feel as powerful as they did in Fallout 3 which isn't a bad thing, I found that Ammo is a harder thing to find, so I found I was swapping guns which is good! However I was always low on ammo swapping guns fleshing out the gameplay until I found a plasma rifle... then I had no problems with ammo (because there’s not meny guns at the start of the game that use plasma shells so I was basically stockpiling them) and that clever way of swapping guns constantly to change the gameplay disappeared. Also as I said the only guns that work with the aiming ridicule are the rifles.

The animations are still awful and an utter disaster. I could stand it in Oblivion and just about in Fallout 3, however now we have games like L.A Noire with its smooth animations (however I think there still in the uncanny valley). Fallout New Vegas just feels and looks stiff and lifeless, as I said in about when I got to Vegas if they had worked on the engine another year or used a new one then they could of made something special and full of life, however it feels rushed and unpolished which really upsets me in a way this game does have preternatural and I know I’ve been tearing this game apart because it's just so... disappointing! One of the biggest things and is more a personal gripe is the ending. Now after completing tasks for the faction you end up battling at Hover Dam. After fighting threw the dam and fighting a Boss that I found nearly imposable to beat, I get greeted with the NCR where you can tell them to go away or let them have the dam or outright murder them! Anyway after that "Mr House" or whoever you teamed up will talk to and BAM it's over. There's nothing else, no travelling round Nevada seeing if your decisions where really for the good of mankind, only a PowerPoint slideshow and credits and NO you can't continue with that character finishing quests. I know Fallout 3 did the PowerPoint thing in the end however you where just a radiated corpse so it fit! Here it's just out of place and in the end made me annoyed and angry. Hopefully the DLC will fix this however I’m not waiting 6 months for DLC I may or may not like I've got other games to play and a Job (three to be more precise). So by the time the DLC is no longer xbox exclusive I've probably already uninstalled it (If I’m not building a level using the GECK tools) and playing Dragon age 2 for 34 hours (that's how long I played the first one) or Deus Ex 3 (oh no I can’t it’s been delayed till 2012!).

In the end I just feel depressed, I remember reading the Developer notes and see things such as a Car and a opening level set before the bombs fell and your battling threw Hover Dam to blow it up, I could go on and on but I think I’m starting to sound like a broken record. If you really really liked fallout 3 then I would reinstall the PC version and get a ton of mods unless you’re really want a different setting I would just about get it. huuuu I know this isn't a review and I wasn't even going to do one till I finished the game and I just felt cheated. The games rushed and I've played it before in Fallout 3. My Normal reviews will continue in a few more weeks. If you want me to do more of these Discussions yeah I will I would look forward to do a Black Ops Discussion. So I leave you with goodbye my next review will be something... different (if it comes in the mail faster than some other games).

Liam Hackett