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