Saturday 31 January 2015

Metro: Last Light Redux

I guess being a full fledged Ranger makes this game less scary than its predecessor.

This is the continuing journey from where Metro 2033 left off where we once again play as Artyom in the dark, mutant infested tunnels of the Metro. I quite like the story here, as we learn a lot more about our protagonist and the "dark ones" (the main antagonists of the first game). I also very much like the Stealth mechanic too, though those throwing knives seem to be overpowered since the last game (guess Artyom did a lot of pushups during the time gap). Also cool is that people that don't like it can choose a different setting right at the start for a more Actiony experience. I can't comment on that because I obviously didn't pick it.

If going via stealth, don't stand in the light like this dunce.

The graphics are again top notch and both the claustrophobic, poorly lit tunnels and the often misty radioactive surface, which you visit a lot more in this game, are detailed very nicely. New critters are also equal parts cool and scary, especially those light-hating spiders but as I alluded to at the start, if you have played the first Metro, nothing here will really scare you.

The only two things I didn't like about the game are the "checkpoint mechanic" which can happen to save your game just as your air filter is almost empty and you are low on health, and the "view for voice" mechanic where you must actively turn to look at whoever is speaking to get the loudest volume. Maybe Artyom has something wrong with his ears from all that gunfire and grenade blasts in enclosed spaces? Whatever the case, I give this four and a half bullets out of five and recommend it to people that liked the first game, the Thief series, and to those that like shooters in general.

Friday 30 January 2015

The Rum Diary

Much like the main character, this movie suffers from a long, drunken stupor.

I came across this on TV the other day and after hearing some good music and Johnny Depp catching me by surprise as being the main star, I decided to watch this whacky film set in 1960's Puerto Rico. Depp is certainly likable as a writer looking for work, though he does have some really poor choice in friends and many vices that get him into trouble. He also meets the rich and sly Aaron Eckhart who serves as the "bad?" guy from Johnny's perspective anyway, since Johnny really likes Aaron's hot girl friend played by the beautiful Amber Heard.

Definite hotness.

There are quite a few funny and entertaining parts to this film, the main problem for me is that of all the little story arcs that start up nothing gets resolved. Yup. Absolutely nothing. Even most (not all) of Steven Seagal's B-grade films get this part right. Hell, even Sharknado gets this right. I'm going to spoil the movie for you now so you don't have to watch it: the closing text is "... this is the end of one story and the beginning of another." Followed by a block of text that tries to to tie everything up in 5 seconds. That is what I call bullshit. BULL SHIT. Given the star quality in this film I am surprised to find myself giving it 1 empty beer bottle out of 5. Don't bother watching this crap.

Thursday 29 January 2015

Assassin's Creed 3

New characters and beautiful maps really make the game worth exploring again.

It's great having first played Black Flag then going backwards to see the development process for the naval ship idea. In Revelations there was a segment where Ezio had to break out of a harbor which was pretty cool. The whole sailing part was already introduced here as sort of a side game, one of many given that there are board games and QTE hunting to do too. It's no secret the sailing segments are my favorite, but what else did I like?

The killing! Wait, you mean apart from the killing?

The many huge maps to explore, not just cities either. The open frontier is awesome, especially on horseback. At least when they give you the horse whistle ability. I also quite liked Desmond getting a chance to do more than just sit in the Animus, more than usual anyway in modern settings. Obviously they were testing to see how that could be done with the lack of haystacks these days. The solution is one they looked to be testing here: BASE jumping. I also quite liked the story of the whole thing and found the voice acting to be superb.

Having six unique recruits with their own abilities was also a lot better than the bunch of hard-to-remember throw aways added in Revelations, but ultimately unnecessary. After getting used to the slightly different controls it is business as usual for the assassin heroes who are like gods that can't even be put down by enemy firing lines as you regenerate quickly over time. Well, I still got thrashed by someone named "Rope Beater" a few times but he was a rare (and honestly, refreshing) exception. :P

This also seems to be where they worked on the notoriety system though it is a bit flawed in the execution here - why bribe criers or newspapers when pulling down three wanted posters is just as easy? Oh well.

On to the things I didn't like: There is a whole chapter in Native American. Yep. For some reason, the Animus which translated Altair and Ezio almost fully to English, fails to do it here. Why? That whole bit felt alienating but whatever. As a result I really disliked one of the main protagonists (Connor), not just because he's a douche bag but because of that. When he finally speaks English it's almost like I'm being introduced to a new character. One I don't really give a stuff about.

Moving on, the lock picking mini-game - stupid and a waste of time since there is really no threat to you while you do it. It's just there to slow you down. On the same vein, spelunking in large underground maps devoid of life is annoying (yet I still did it). Yes, I know they were trying to get the scale right or whatever but I'm just equating it to my maps in Neverwinter Online, no way would anyone get away with making such a sprawling and simultaneously boring place. 15 minute quests man. 15 minutes tops.

More to add to the useless list are: Hunting, Crafting and that god awful mini-management game. Why do they insist on putting that shitty management game? I know it continues on to Black Flag but I'll be glad if it is destroyed entirely. Fortunately it's not needed here and can be skipped, just like in the next game. I hope that people wise up and spend resources on something better than this crap. You also get a TON of tools you can use, but really you just need a sword, pistol and horse and you are set. Everything else is fluff.

Also, the Homestead missions. They are both really cool, and exceptionally stupid. Unfortunately, more on the stupid side of the scale. Oh, I could go try stop/win a war or you know, I could take the time to pick some flowers. The game also suffers from a long, unskippable credit roll and once again has some sort of PvP multiplayer attachment which instead of Abstergo training their own people is now better presented as an entertainment game. This sits a lot better and is followed through in Black Flag's main story, but is still just on the side content I'm not really interested in. If only they made a coop multiplayer version... I think that one is called Unity, right? :P

A definite improvement over Revelations but still nowhere near as good as Black Flag, I give this game three and a half arrows out of five.

Wednesday 28 January 2015

Taken 3

The Mills family continues its terrible run of luck forcing Liam Neeson to get violent once more.

I quite liked the previous Taken movies, unfortunately this one just doesn't seem up to par. Yes, we get to see the hero from the first two films do his thing again here against an unknown threat which makes an interesting premise. The enemies also seem to be higher level / last longer in this movie but the problem is that there is a shortage of them. Actually, more to the point is that there is a shortage of the hero doing his thing, and that he has mellowed out a little I think.

Still likes to feed the bad guys lead though. Literally.

I'd say maybe a third or a fourth of the movie focuses on the police as they try do their thing, ineptly. They could have easily been nameless characters to let the movie go faster. The hero's daughter is also more of a place holder for a plot device than in the first movie, yet possibly gets more screen time here where she doesn't really do much - that is a pretty impressive feat when you think about it.

Lesser problems for me would be switching Xander Berkley for Dougray Scott (probably unavoidable due to scheduling) and having a long credit opening that does nothing to advance the story other than fly around a city. Woo. I'm nitpicking on credits these days, I think I'll make a post on that in the future... for now though, I'll finish up by giving Taken 3 two and a half bullets out of five and recommend watching it only if you liked the first two movies a lot. Don't expect that level of quality here though.

Tuesday 27 January 2015

Assassin's Creed: Revelations

Ezio is back as an old and tired guy - and that's kind of exactly how this game feels.

I know I played the Assassin's Creed games out of order when I skipped ahead to Black Flag after Brotherhood, so I was slightly expecting a reduction in quality when playing this older game. I just didn't realize how much. Right after the "Lucy Event", we find Desmond trapped / being kept alive in the Animus. Unlike the previous games we actually get to learn a fair bit about Desmond this time around, and it reveals that he is a fricking liar in the previous games (from what I remember anyway).

As usual his part is second fiddle to that of the now aged Ezio Auditore who seems to run just that bit slower that before, but is wise enough to carry parachutes for when the player does stupid jumps off the really high buildings of Constantinople. It's a pretty city, but it is the only main site in this game. There are only... what, two other explorable maps? Ezio has also brought with him his knowledge of city investment which really makes gaining money a breeze but is slighlty tempered by the "Templar Awareness" meter which goes up everytime you do an "illegal" action - like investing. Lol.

If you anger them too much they attack one of your hideouts in what has to be one of the stupidest tower defense mini-games ever. Yup. You setup barricades and your assassin minions to defend against a horde of invaders but the whole time the only thing I really needed, and wanted to do (but could not) is just jump down there and personally slay all of them. Because you are still Ezio and your counter kills are still as deadly as before. Segments with Altair are here too, and those are even more fun to play - almost more rewarding as in brings his story to a close.

The ultimate tag team?

The mini management of recruiting assassins and sending them out in a mini-game is present here, and gels far better than the same system in Black Flag (it was Kenway's fleet there). This is because your rookies can become Den Masters at level 10, opening more quests for you in the city and again at level 15 at which point they prevent the silly tower defense game themselves.

I guess I should mention you also have new gear in the form of a hook blade (you can flying fox down ropes and do some other minor things) and bombs, complete with a bomb making crafting segment. Honestly? They come in handy here and there but are totally unnecessary to someone who knows the combat system. Hide? What hide? Just draw your sword and walk right up to the elite guards and kill them. Sure the Janissaries have some nice moves but they don't carry as much meds as Ezio. No regen here, but it doesn't matter. :P

There is also a PvP multiplayer aspect present here again (Templars using the Animus as training) but I'm not sure it's even worth a mention as every single game type has "Low Player Activity" (old game). All up, this is a decent romp through the Assassin's Creed universe but nowhere near as neat as Black Flag. I give it 2.5 hidden blades out of five.

Monday 26 January 2015

Nameless: Sisters of the Sand

[This is the start of my Creative Writing Experiment.]

The crowd cheered as Ash rolled to her side, just before her opponent's heavy stone axe slammed down on the spot she had just been. The ugly brute didn't have time to raise it again as an arrow suddenly found it way through his neck, spouting blood like a fountain as he fell to his knees and slumped forward - dead on the sand. Blowing a strand of red hair out of her face she nodded thanks to her savior, the blonde archer Gigal. The woman reciprocated the nod and let her piercing blue eyes find her next target. There weren't many to choose from.

The brunette sisters Nerith and Nessa were finishing off one more opponent between their jagged bone knives while Indas, the towering and muscular giantess was busy choking the life out of her adversary - his legs kicking the air in vain as he tried to pry free from her grip. With a loud snap the kicking stopped and the broken body was tossed like garbage to the side, much to the pleasure of the crowd. Ash grinned as she retrieved her spear. These were her team mates. These were...

"The Sisters of the Sand win again!" exclaimed the green robed announcer from a high balcony, his skinny arms outstretched. "Surely their luck cannot hold out forever! Send in the next group!"

Ash cast the announcer a deathly sideways stare as the rest of her comrades regrouped around her. That name was something he branded them after their all female group happened to win a few rounds in the previous weeks. They weren't expected to survive as none of them started out as fighters. They were all slaves. Slaves gone "bad" in the eyes of their masters, and now just entertainment for the crowd. Even the lecherous Merzol and his gang of rapists - the ones now lying dead in the sand were just entertainment.

"Always time for a fuck," was Merzol's motto, and Ash heard it a lot in the shared slave pens beneath the arena. Women, men, girls, boys, dogs, rats, dead, alive - it didn't matter to Merzol. That's why she made sure to kill him first.

As she watched the next group of five men march in she knew their next fight would be a lot different from the last one. Different from any they had already fought. It would be their last. This was Scar's team, the reigning "champions" composed of barbarians and renegade soldiers. People who were adept at the art of killing. People who long lived in the underbelly of the bloody arena.

The bald, muscle bound leader signaled his men to stop just as they neared Ash and her girls. The crowd hushed in anticipation.

"Are you ready?" he asked in his usual deep, monotone voice. Ash looked to each of her friends and nodded.

Both teams suddenly sprinted in unison for the old, and often unused western gate of the arena. It took a few seconds before the onlookers cottoned on to what was happening.

"GUARDS!" yelled the green robed announcer. "THE GLADIATORS ARE TRYING TO ESCAPE!"

Sunday 25 January 2015

Today I Smiled: I Has Zomboid

I won a free game! :)

Super short post just to give big thanks to Isey of IhasPC for running a random draw of people to win a free copy of Project Zomboid. By extension thanks to Eri (aka J3w3l) of Healing the Masses for doing the same thing first (which inspired Isey to do so). I haven't played it yet, but free stuff always makes me happy.

Just for kicks, here are some short and cute animal related videos for you to enjoy: a cat's reaction to a giant spider, a kitten nibbling its tail, and a four year old girl feeding a pack of pitbulls.

Lastly, I'm going to try crank out posts daily again. Let's see how long that lasts!

Hope you all have a lovely day. ^_^

Saturday 24 January 2015

Cast Away

I always thought this movie was about Tom Hanks and a volleyball until I actually got to see it for the first time a few days ago. While a big chunk of it is just Tom Hanks on a remote island, there are plenty of other people in the movie too - Helen Hunt of special note since I've always liked her. It's a pretty quiet (music wise) and nice yet sad tale of not giving up and taking things for granted. It also gives a lot of ideas for anyone who gets stranded on an island in the future and is a great ad for FedEx.

If this spawned from that old screen saver, it turned out to be a good movie!

I must say, I probably would have not survived what Hanks' character went through - especially the plane part. Ironic that the guy without a seat belt is the one that made it out. Also not sure why a whale would have hung around him so long. It was funny to watch him collect the packages at the start and sort them, as per his regular job. I'm not sure why he didn't open that last one and just kept the box, but oh well. Funnier still to then find out what might have been in it (spoilers). :P

All up, it was a decent enough flick for me to give three out of five coconuts to, and worth a watch if nothing else is on.

Thursday 22 January 2015

To the Moon

Superb music and masterpiece story telling make this game fantastic.

Wow. I've read reviews on this before but I wasn't prepared for how outstanding the whole thing would be which is surprising for a game that uses something like RPG Maker as its core engine. Don't be fooled though, it still requires some work to get all those pixel sprites and background tiles looking good and all the little mini-games make for a good break from the usual point and click adventure offered here but really, it is the main plot and the slow peeling of the story layers that give this game (or to some, an "interactive novel") its drive. The label doesn't really matter when it is of this caliber.

Epic Feels.

I am intentionally keeping this short (much like the game itself, which can be finished in four hours) as to not spoil the plot at all, so suffice it to say that it is a very powerful and moving piece which will make you laugh and cry, even on your second play through with your spouse. Ok, I totally broke down at one point and still get teary eyed when I think about it. For something to have such an impact in so short a space of time, the creators definitely did something right. I give it five out of five manly tears. Highly recommended for everyone!

Tuesday 20 January 2015

Godzilla (2014)

There's a shortage of one thing in this movie. I'll give you a hint - it's in the title.

To be fair, when Godzilla does show up it is fricking cool and fans of the great beastie will be pleased with his rendition here I believe. The problem is that the movie focuses on people who are more or less really unimportant to the story - useless kid? Check. Generals and soldier types that make really, really stupid decisions? Check. Scientist that does no science and is only there to spout lore? Check. "Lore hook" Scientist's AIDE!? Check.

What's really frustrating is that almost each time the CGI starts to ramp up, there's a cut away back to some other character - maybe watching it on a TV, or running away like a slow running native... and the movie STICKS TO THE LESS EXCITING PART for what feels like a long time. Sure enough, when it cuts back to the action, the action is actually over and you just get scenes of distraught people and rubble.

Take a good look! You won't be seeing me for awhile!

Eventually we get to see Godzilla fully do his thing, and boy that is absolutely beautiful, but I'm not sure it was worth sitting through the tepid storyline to get through to it. I give this movie two missiles out of five. The other three totally missed and hit civilians trying to escape the theater.

Monday 19 January 2015

Nameless: Creative Writing Experiment

So, I decided to try something new out this year - I guess you can call them exercises in creative writing. They are still game play throughs or "Let's Play(s)" but with changes to fit better as a story narrative. Also there is no set schedule to their posting, they'll just pop up every now and then so don't be surprised if there isn't one say... tomorrow. :P

Hopefully it will eventually help me to better write that guild history thing that I've been planning to do for eons now. I also hope that at least some of you enjoy it! I'll be collating the "chapters" in this post to make it easier to find later on. I do request that you comment on them though, in regards to ... anything really! Guessing what game I'm playing (I suspect this will be dead easy) or even pointing out spelling and grammar errors would be great. As a newbie level writer / artist I expect I'll need a fair bit of help!

Sisters of the Sand
No Freedom from Fate
The Magic Number
Ashes to Ashes
A Step Ahead
The Deal
Balkazar's Lair
The Wizard King
Buying Time
The Siege
Sharing a Meal
Not that Way
Preparation is the Key
Already Dead
Not Everyone can Evade 
The Challenge
Liquid Fire
Ladies First
The Rats Nest
Cold Touch
The Mages Guild 
Not Welcome
Bloody Gems
Group Two
Cathedral Showdown
The Best Defense
The Sorrows
The Money Lender
Not Much of a Choice
Glancing Blows
Glorified Fetch Quest
Grim Paintings
All the Way up Here
Dinner Reservations
The Other Problem
Mount Verini
Time to Rumble
Forest of Spears
The Lyre
It's not Luck
Plan B
Evil Intent
Explosive Volume
The Answer to Unasked Questions
Pretty as a Picture 
The Last Ship

This story has now concluded! Thank you for reading! :) 

Saturday 17 January 2015

Today I Smiled: Over the Limit

I've been having internet slowness of late and I am glad to learn that the reason for it is simply because for the first time ever, I've exceeded my monthly allowed download. This is partially thanks to all the downloading of Christmas present games but more so this pretty impressive app I was introduced to called XBMC. I suggest you google it up to see if what it does interests you.

My guild has also decided to give external voice chat programs a try, since many of the coop games just don't offer it nor do we really want someone hosting a voice server that will impair their performance. We did try Teamspeak first but since setting up a server was too messy we went with Mumble instead and that has been performing admirably so far. The text to voice chat does sound like a funny robot though. Not as cool as Arnie as a robot in the upcoming Terminator reboot though.

Also good to learn some interest exists to revive the old Wizardry Online. Not so good to hear of Elder Scrolls Online's performance though, but hey - if it goes free to play then I can finally play it again (I did run about in the Beta). As usual I also have some tunes for you, the first is one suggested by guildmate Carbon called AMV Psycho Pop. If that is too psycho or pop for your liking then maybe you'll instead enjoy the piano soloist, Jon Schmidt and his song, All of Me.

Lastly almost everyone has been dishing out the hate on early access zombie game H1Z1, yet in the sea of Steam reviews saying "Not Recommended", this one made me laugh:

That's it for now! Hope you all have a wonderful day! :)

Thursday 15 January 2015

The Red Solstice (Early Access)

On Mars, everyone can hear you scream - regardless of distance. When you die anyway.

And you will die a LOT in this cooperative, top down shooter. There are currently only three maps, but they are huge and the missions (and secondary missions if you choose to activate them) pop up in semi-random spots for your team of space marines to hunt down. There are different suits you can use as you level up, and again proficiency in each suit lets you use more abilities from it.

There's a long list of abilities but you can only bring four with you each time. Fortunately you can assign and unassign points to each of those "components" as you like during the game. For example I like the Assault suits "knife" ability but if I need to be shooting stuff I can remove points from there and put it into something gun related. It's a bit messy but useful. Also messy but useful is the inventory. While you can only bring two weapons each player can carry up to six items that you find while scavenging on the field.

There's quite a large variation of "stuff" out there from medkits, bandages, and ammo to flares and a variety of explosives which all behave differently. There's also no tool tips on how any of those work in game so it comes down to trial and error and the occasional friendly fire incident.

Oops. Didn't mean to nuke the team. Soz guys.

That aside, while running the missions (which are easy enough on their own) the main enemy comes in the form of monsters originating from somewhere beneath the surface. They come in ever increasing waves from clearly marked spawn points but there are some that just can spawn out of the ground any where, much to the ire of people that like to establish strong defensible spots. Kinda pointless if enemy units can freely skip all your turrets, sandbags and mines.

I quite like that "darkness" is a thing in this game. Shooting enemies in the dark makes half your shots from already hard to find ammo miss, making lighted areas and flares of great importance. This is on top of the huge monsters later on that you simply will not have enough fire power to deal with (unless you brought 7 allies with you).

What I don't like is the player respawn system. If you die, you have to wait 2 minutes before re-appearing. There's currently a bug where sometimes you instantly die when you try to respawn making you wait another 2 minutes. Oh, and you can only respawn twice. Die a third time and you might be spending up to an hour just watching your team mates instead of playing with them. That is bad design in my book.  Currently I give this game two out of five bullets.

Tuesday 13 January 2015

Dead Island: Epidemic (Beta)

I knew Cinnamon lived through the events of the first game! Now he's on the island of Amaia spreading more disease!

I'm... not sure what happened to the Dead Island franchise here. This isn't a first person shooter like the previous games were, instead it has some top down, cartoony view where the zombies are no longer even scary. I suppose they embraced this silliness given that my chosen character has an "ultimate skill" where he shoots ducks from the air which crash down and explode in a circle, dealing massive damage to enemies. I was going to say undead, but this seems to be designed as a PvP 6 vs 6 machine which sees opposing scavenger teams fight each other for food, medicines and toilet paper.

Since I dislike PvP my opinion is obviously slanted against that, but it this was gifted to me so I thought I'd go ahead and try out the "Prototype" PvE missions which (after the single player tutorial ones) seem to be based on one map with a safety caravan in the middle guarded by solar powered turrets and one dude who sends the team to each of the four corners to do some random objective, often involving retrieving supplies (or less frequently, NPC people).

Completing said tasks awards you with various scraps and blueprints of things you can make with those scraps. Your character can only take 2 weapons with him per mission and can't switch during its course - (un)fortunately this means they don't ever break. What this really feels like though is a shop - not a game. The pay to win is strong in this one where you can buy more characters, gear, so on an so forth making what I'd think would be a pretty big gap in PvP but hey, people must like it. Maybe the curb stomp between a free player and a paid up to his eyeballs player isn't as bad as I think? I'll never know.

Cheapest prices in all of Amaia! Tell all your friends!

Keep in mind this is still in Beta as I type this though. Plenty of opportunity for it to improve, the question is when? I give Dead Island: Epidemic half a zombie hit by a duck out of five. In its current state I also can't recommend it to anyone as I'm sure there are better games that do what it offers out there.

Update: As of 23 July 2015, there are more characters for people to spend money on but not much else. Coop game is still in "Prototype" and the entire thing is still labelled as "Beta". Seems to me this game is as dead as the zombies it features.

Sunday 11 January 2015

Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno

The fight scenes are fricking awesome. Let's get that out of the way at the start! :P

Continuing on from his encounter with Jin-E, Kenshin continues to reside at the Kamiya Dojo with the Kenshin-Gumi but just like the anime is soon asked to go stop one Shishio Makoto and his "Ten Swords" from doing terrorist activities as payback for that time the government literally back stabbed him and tried to burn him. In this version though, the Saitou vs Kenshin fight doesn't happen since that sort of occurred in the previous movie and they are now allies.

Did you miss me?

Aoshi appears instead, but is always one step behind Kenshin who he is hunting for similar yet different reasons from the anime. He is somewhat more of a douchebag in this reincarnation. Yes, I didn't think it was possible either. :P Also missing is the "fire flies" scene which has been altered and doesn't have as much of an impact as it did in the anime. To be fair, also missing are the gazillion fillers in the anime that took the time to build the whole Kenshin and Kaoru thing up before that point. Acting wise my only problems are with Cho (over acting) and the wailing child extra. I ... guess he's a good wailer?

There are quite a few minor changes in the story but for the most part it goes how one expects, up until the end that is - where there's a major plot shift to open into the next movie. I didn't find this one as good as the previous movie (only because of the "to be continued" thing) but it's pretty close and very enjoyable - especially to Kenshin fans. You may want to watch the first movie first though if you haven't already, as this is more "The Empire Strikes Back" part of the trilogy. Personally, I can't wait to see the next one! ^_^

Friday 9 January 2015

Shadow Warrior (2013)

There is a demon apocalypse and only one man can stop it! Erm... and the Space Marine from Doom is not available... *cough*

This remake of the original Shadow Warrior game is, in a word - fantastic. The graphics are beautiful (which is weird for a FPS), the action is fast paced, the controls easily mastered, the plot better than decent and the comedy top notch. Well, for low brow comedy that is. I mean the hero is named Lo Wang after all. Throughout the game you can power him and his many weapons up however you like - I played on Insane and didn't get enough to unlock everything so that means it all comes down to your preferred style of play.

There are two features that really sucked me in this game, the first of which is the sword. I -LOVE- melee, and the way they have done it here is awesome as the katana can become uber powerful if you put your skill points in that area. There is less, hide behind cover and shoot, and more crazy hectic evading that keeps your heart rate up. The second one is that your left hand can be controlled independently of your right. Using a rocket launcher? That's cool, you can still swing your sword with your other hand. Or you can akimbo some uzis. Or you can be using a healing spell while hacking stuff with your sword (that was me, most of the game).

Blood and Gore is a plus!

As expected the game play is quite linear but there is ample opportunity to explore to find secret areas but the main problems come from two spots which turns the game into a chore instead of an exciting experience. The first is ALL THE BOSS FIGHTS. They are damage sponges, who face you in spots where ammo spawns freely because the creators knew this and thought it was a good idea. End result is repetitive dullness. People need to learn that bosses need not be damage sponges. A fast fight where you die or they die in a few hits is WAY more effective (like the final zone in Mission 16, where you fight waves of demons - that is challenging but fun).

The other spot I didn't like is Mission 13. In previous levels I was averaging around 30 minutes to clear but slowly this timer kept increasing after every stage. Mission 13 is the culmination of "lets make a long level for no reason other than making it long". 2 hours to clear for me. It's not even because there are hard fights, it was simply because the level design is so expansive, like someone didn't get the memo of keeping things short and to the point. The fights themselves didn't help since it was the same configuration of bad guys just in different rooms - Them in a circle room. Them in a hall way. Them in a lobby with stair well. Really? In MMOs the term for that is GRINDY.

Lo Wang, you are an improvement over your predecessor but failed to reach total enlightenment - I give you 4 out of 5 demon hearts.

Tuesday 6 January 2015

Thomas Was Alone

Can a square think outside the box? Thomas definitely tries!

At its heart, this game is a rather tame puzzle platformer (at least compared to Super Meat Boy) that has taken the odd but graphically less taxing path of using squares and rectangles of different colors as the main characters. Art wise I like that despite this, there is still dynamic lighting and most of the levels are tilted slightly. There is also decent piano music and very good narration that helps the player understand what is going on from the otherwise featureless world.

Can you feel the excitement?

While this does help it stand out there are many times that flow just doesn't make sense. That sort of breaks the deal for me as its almost like the Narrator is blatantly lying to the audience at parts, or is just as lost as to why people... *ahem* blocks... keep getting separated story wise and not just because the next stage is designed for so and so. For me, this game was a good idea that didn't get seen through to the end. I give it 2 out of 5 angles, and cannot really give it my recommendation to anyone.

Sunday 4 January 2015

Zombicide Season 2: Prison Outbreak

I got this cooperative board game as an early Christmas present and so far, I am having a blast trying to survive in the exciting (and terrifying) zombie apocalypse theme it creates. With nine double sided, interchangeable boards, around 80 good quality figurines, and 11 grueling missions that come with the game I can see that it will be keeping us busy for quite some time. The ever increasing and mostly shambling zombie horde also handle themselves, which is a big plus - meaning no one is stuck as an antagonistic game master.

You just get stuck with antagonistic zombies. :P

Players have a choice from 6 characters who have differing abilities from each other and from their "Zombivor" version - what you turn into if you get wounded twice by any zombie. You are still on the same team, but your character has traits that lead them to be more violent instead of traits that let them move around more for example.

While maps offer a suggested playtime length, I suggest you ignore those because I've clocked my current games of 4 and 5 people going as long as a game of Eldritch Horror, especially on maps with many tiles. Setup time is slightly shorter though. Also, having scenarios spelled out in the book is great as it has gives an overall story as you play through the vastly different missions. As fun as it is, there are two big flaws in the game for me and I will go into both of them right now:

Player Elimination

If you take five wounds while in Zombivor mode you are out of the game. While we have come really close to it, this hasn't happened in any of our play throughs yet. However, I can see that if it does that whoever is eliminated is not going to hang around for x hours while the rest of the mission plays on. Even Eldritch Horror with its high mortality rate lets you respawn as someone else (unless you run out of characters) to keep all players really invested and often only in the end game does it kill people off permanently.

Ranged Combat

The above might have been an oversight but this here is plain stupidity. Say I am shooting into a tile that has a friendly character and zombies. I roll the dice and discover I hit six times. Each hit will hit the friendly character(s) first until they are dead before I start hitting zombies. Doesn't matter if there's one zombie or 70 zombies, you will hit your allies first (unless you have the sniper perk). I wouldn't mind if it was a chance to hit friendlies like if your rolls had 1 or 2's or something but a guaranteed 100% to hit your allies regardless of which direction you are shooting from, or elevation (shoot from towers) is just stupid. The result is guns being almost useless in tight quarters.

Other than that this is a really fun game and one that will make the hours fly by as you and your team work out how to complete each objective while minimizing casualties. I give it 4 chainsaws out of 5!

Score after re-review: 3 chainsaws out of 5.

As an aside: Finally won a game of Forbidden Desert starting on Elite level! Not sure how we pulled that off but it sure felt great! :D

Friday 2 January 2015

Vindictus: Reapers of the Twilight Desert

[This is part of my Vindictus tutorials.]

More tips today but these are more for a Kai/ranged type.

If you haven't felt the grind in this game so far, you are certainly going to feel it now with the amount of times you are going to be sent into this otherwise pretty place. If only it wasn't full of undead! For a solo Kai, all the reaper bosses (anything wearing a hood) are easy prey. They move slow, use attacks you've seen many times before, and shooting them in the face does a lot of damage.

I do have to give special mention to the ones that summon other spirits or hell gates which spawn more spirits. Kill the adds (or hell gates themselves) to make it easier. Also the one that summons hell gates has an over hand scythe chop followed by a 360 degree "magic laser". Evade the scythe then evade left as the laser nears you. You can dodge right too, but you'll need to dodge the laser twice that way.

I keep losing my shoes. :/

The crab at the oasis is exactly the same one at the Ship Graveyard. This time you have a huge oasis to run around too, and since the crab gets confused if lured to the South end of it you can dance with it (walk forward, shoot, back off, repeat) or simply magnum it when it gets stuck until it dies.

The circle marks the spot.

The other guardian guys (apart from the rather stout and easy Judge Vakram) pose a harder challenge though, as they can all sprint into melee range quickly and have a range of combos to hack you up with. Fortunately they are all mostly skipable.

Unfortunately the worst of them, Commander Ikrium, is the subject of many quests including the main story. This guy can be annoying with his seemingly undodgable giant seeking ball and equally bad sword combos. Strafe backwards and around to avoid his trinity slash (it's like the pirate captain's one but bigger, faster and more painful),  and dodge FORWARD to avoid his magic missile orb. He also puts sand mines that detonate after awhile - just get distance from them and dodge the blast as it comes. You'll have to use best judgement when it comes to the rest of his melee sword skills.