Sunday, November 1, 2009

Torchlight Review

Platform: PC
Genre: hack&slash

From time to time ... a leprechaun appears, grabs your hand and takes you to the end of the 16-bit rainbow to award you with his big pot of golden LEGO blocks. And then while you think of the layout of a lego castle ... while you reach for the pieces ... he starts dancing and then he bumfucks you ... with a spoon.

Torchlight is the game version of that leprechaun ... only it has ... a big, wooden spoon covered in splinters. At first glance it looks like a Blizzard fanboy took Diablo and Warcraft III ... and blended them into the perfect game (for him). The story goes, that in the quiet mining town of Torchlight, ... aaaaaa ... well ... you go in a mine and start killing monsters. I know I'll get a lot of boooooos ... but come on, it's a hack&slash ... whatever the story ... the goal is the same, kill like there's no tommorow... for loot and money. Now, seriously how many of you knew the exact story of Diablo 1 after the first runthrough ? (i mean the details... names like Azmodan and Belial ringing any bells ?).
Back to Torchlight ...

"In the fantasy world that serves as the setting of Torchlight, Ember is a mysterious ore which has the power to imbue people and items with magical power.(...) Torchlight is built above a rich vein of Ember, (...). Ember has a corrupting influence which led to the fall of past civilizations and endangers those who use it in the present." (Taken from Wikipedia... )

Good, now we know the story ... and I know why I constantly had to get various types of Ember for some dude. The game mainly consists of 3 quest repeated till the end ... sorry 4 quests. One is the main quest ... where you only have to go deeper into the dungeon, then there is one to get ember, one to kill a boss (different type of ember and different boss each time) and there is one guy in town that will send you in random 2-level dungeons from time to time.

Also at traders you can buy maps (each has a level requirement) and they will also take you through random dungeons when activated.

So till now we have a standard hack&slash, with a xp bar, inventory, lots of monsters to kill, random dungeons, items varying from plain to rare, unique, epic or set. Where's the bad part then ?

But before I go there...
At the beginning of the game you get to choose from 3 classes (they are 3 standard classes like in any RPG but they wanted to give them a more personal touch and name them differently).
Well there is the Destroyer (Warrior for dummies, my roommate named him "Terminator"), the Alchemist (Spellcaster) and the Vanquisher (Archer). Also you get to pick from the two pets available: a dog (normal people would call that a wolf) and something they call a cat (and If I'll ever see a cat like that ... well... slowly I would turn around and then run like there's no tomorrow to the nearest anti-atomic shelter and lock myself in). Anyway ... they won't bite your butt off ... so everything is ok. They have a health and mana bar of their own, they level up ... and if you're one of those people who likes to dress up their pets ... well ... bad luck ... you can only equip them with a necklace and 2 rings. Also they can learn 2 spells which they will use until exhaustion (or untill their mana reaches 0 :P). But the most convenient part about the pets is that they have an inventory, same size as yours, and you can send them to town (while crawling through the dungeon) to sell everything. Oh, and they don't die. If they possessed the ability to buy identify scrolls it would've been a bless ... but they don't.

Every character has 3 skill trees, but you don't have to go on one specific tree to get to it's bottom, skills being unlocked as the player level's up. Also, they introduced a fame bar which gets filled as you kill champions and turn in quests. With every fame level up, you get one extra skill point.

The graphics are cartoony, actually very close to Warcraft III. If you played it or if you're playing DotA ... you'll feel right at home (and no, I never touched DotA ... my only connection to that game/mod ... is the song DotA from Basshunter). The whole idea ... of entering through the town ... going deeper and deeper ... mines ... then temple, then lava ... and so on...reminded me so much of Diablo that I could even hear the creepy tune from Tristram. Then my roommate's phone rang, had to turn off the speakers for a sec ... and I realized ... I wasn't schizophrenic ... it was the actual soundtrack of the game ...
When I turned them back on I listened very carefully ... it really sounded like Tristram ... but they changed it a bit ... maybe they didn't want a law-suit. Curious by nature, I google'd the name of the composer ... result: "Diablo composer and sound designer Matt Uelmen also joined the team, creating original music and sound for the game." (thank you wikipedia...again)
Apparently most of the people behind the game ... are ex-Blizzard-employees-who-worked-on-Diablo.

What I didn't like about this was its difficulty... played on normal... almost every monster is a one-hit-kill. The only one that felt a bit harder was the last boss. Also, the loading times are a bit big, every time I had to go deeper into the dungeon or open the portal to town ... or sometimes enter the game ... I was like "do I really have to ?". The biggest problem I encountered is that when I went to kill the last boss ... he was 12 levels lower than me. I guess they forgot to put some enemy power scaling somewhere. What, am I the only total retard who did all the extra-maps from vendors? Also the quest rewards (for me at least) were totally useless, and from some point on ... I didn't change any item at all (too many things to care about + I was Rambo) only if it had higher armor (sounds noob-ish ... but why bother ? I was Rambo anyway).
I know it's a mindless hack&slash but why did they have to make it for cave dwellers possessing the IQ of a rock ?

I have yet to try any skills, except the first one you gain as a warr... sorry Destroyer. All my points went into passives ... and judging by its difficulty ... I had a lot of points invested to make my wolf/dog/whatever (I called him Maidanezu... stray-dog in english) go faster to town and back.

You have to watch out for the ending ... if you skip the dialogs, you might just pass it big time ... and you will wake up wondering, after 2 months of playing, when you ding 176 how much more will it take. I hope it isn't a spoiler but the end of the game is at floor 35.
After that you get into town, and a new dungeon is opened with 2 more quest-givers... Apparently that one goes forever ...

Also, it has no multiplayer... which is a considerable downer for the game. I imagined myself playing along 3 or 4 other players gang-banging every monster ... but

Anyway... although there are a few (in my opinion) major flaws... it's fun and it will consume 2!?!?!?! WHY ONLY 2~??~ days of your life.

I almost forgot (actually I did, but I edited the post :P). There is this weird old man voice that likes to underline your every action "you're pet has departed for town" ... and so on ... but he has such a sweet old voice ... every time I heard him I could see Father Tucker smiling. If you don't know who him be ... google it !

The bad: too easy, too short, no multiplayer
The good: gives you a welcomed Diablo feeling

p.s. I didn't find a cover picture of the game ... so I came up with something just to keep all the reviews following a template...

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince Review

Platform: PC
Genre: Basicly Action/adventure, but I think it's something totally new and revolutionary: WS (walking-simulator)

While installing the game I was asking myself: "Do I really wanna do this ?". I played all Harry Potter games (except for the Quidditch world-thingy) and finished all of them till Order of the Phoenix. The first 3 were childish but pretty fun and time consuming, the 4th ... eh
eh... and the 5th introduced the move-your-mouse-this-way-to-do-this-spell (something like in Arx Fatalis) which, for me at least, didn't work so well... so I watched it fly from my balcony (now, that was magic). After 30 minutes of gameplay, the mouse-drawing-spell-thingy was in this one too, but it worked better, it didn't mix up the spells. While playing, I actually said to myself "Hey it might be pretty good, of course now I'm just following stupid Ron everywhere, but this is just the tutorial or something." .... well..... WRONG !!!!!

The whole game you walk around Hogwarts, collecting (if you wish) stupid shit just for the fun of it... oh and you get some upgrades from time to time, but

nothing too spectacular. Your HUD is empty, no life, no spell (cause you have a different mouse scheme for each one), in fact, why need one, when all you do is walk...and walk... and collect Hogwarts crests . There are 125 big ones which you just run over, or jump on some carpets, or throw stuff at them (if they're nailed to a wall), and 25 which you get from collecting miniature crests. The little ones you can't see but you release from certain object which have a "aura" around them. Of course, they have a bad habit of pouring out and going through anything, so you will lose some of them.
If you do something right with the aura (I finished the game and still didn't get what), even more crst than usual will come out

The graphics are ok, I couldn't find my 1680x1050 resolution, so I had a nice black line, but no problem. If you like gothic architecture, then you will love walking around Hogwarts. One problem though, from the middle of the game on, Dumbledore and Slugthorne have lost their will to move their lips when talking. Oh, I get it.... it's magic ! And sometimes the voice-acting is bellow average. I don't know who recorded the voices, I didn't have the nerves to read the credits.

I haven't seen the movie, but in the game a lot of details are skiped... or the producers of the game think that everybody read the books. All the out-of-Hogwarts, Riddle's memories and other major/important events are presented in the form of cutscenes. It would've have been nice a little bit of interaction. Like for instance, when Harry and Dumbledore go for the Horcrux in the cave (this is actually the only one where you interact a bit), until you go out it 's only a boooring cutscene, that in the book may awake inside you a bit of pity for Dumbledore, but here you only get to hate him and want to kick his face. At the end of the cutscene you get to kill the undead (I know they had a name, but I forgot it, and it's not mentioned in the game) that come from the water.... This reminded me of space invaders. Good game that was. You move Harry left and right and shoot. WOOOOW. Also very touchy scene from the book, Dumbledore's funeral where everyone is gathered watching Hagrid put the body on the white tomb and Fawkes sings one last song.... they just decided to put credits instead. It just shows Fawkes fly over Hogwarts and a white light (which you can see if you stare at the monitor). Also the game is clearly made for a younger audience, because at the scene where Harry casts sectumsempra on Draco Malfoy and blood should start pouring from every one and each of his holes it just shows Harry cast the spell and then... Snape comes in... dialog... loading.

Besides the walking, there are 3 mini-games, actually 3 "clubs". The potions club, the duelling club (divided in 4 minor ... clubs, one for each house) and the Quidditch matches. At the potions club you have to follow a list of instructions (turn X until it gets yellow, put in 5 whatever, mix it and so on.... of course, you use your mouse to make the exact moves.... annoying), at Quidditch the only thing you have to do is to control your character with your mouse to get inside some stars (no acceleration or brake or whatever). The interesting one, and the thing that kept me playing are the duels. You get to fight 4 opponents from each house. You can use stupify (basic attack, which can be charged up) by left-clicking, protego (blocking) by right-clicking, Expelliarmus (stun) by moving your mouse counter-clockwise, petrificus totalus (freeze enemy) by moving your mouse verticaly and levicorpus (turn enemy upside-down and stun) by moving mouse horizontaly. (note: i might have mixed up the moves for the last, didn't use them as much). The duels are pretty fun, you can combine them so you don't get hit at all, but the opponents are Retards so ... don't bother.... just expelliarmus, and while he's down you go beside him and stupify the shit out of him.

So.... ..... well.... no.

Oh I forgot. There are two scenes when you play as a drugged (actually someone who took a potion) character. First you play as Ronald Weasley who drank a love potion without knowing. Everythimg is pink, hearts fly everywhere, the mini-crests are shaped as hearts and... it's the dumbest thing I've ever seen. Second you "play" as Harry after taking the Felix Felicius potion, which makes him lucky. Harry moves on his own, you see from a first-person perspective, you can't do anything only get mini-crests out (and they always come in large numbers). Of course that scene is wrong too... it's just too... happy. There is a golden aura around the screen, some jazz music in the background and a running Harry.

the bad: potion-making, voice-acting, too much walking, Should be called Harry Potter ZERO (no sugar, no action)
the good: Visualy nice, perfect for children

Friday, August 7, 2009

Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood Review

Platform: PC

I'm a single child, I have no brothers or sisters, so I have never felt that brotherly jump-on-the-grenade-for-your-kin love. After some movies, books, games, I acknowledge that it is something really deep and only something really bad could break this a woman.
A while ago Call of Juarez appeared, and it got a lot of good reviews (my own will come soon), so I tried it. After some swearing (at the stealth missions) I flushed it out from my HDD. Now when Bound in Blood was announced I tried it again so I could follow the story. After I finished it I found out that Bound in Blood was gonna be a prequel... well whoopeee.

The game is centered around the McCall brothers: Ray (the Pastor

from Call of Juarez), Thomas (Billies father) and William. After deserting from the army to save their home and family Ray and Thomas become outlaws and are living on the edge, always running and shooting. They also take their little brother William with them, who is a priest and tries to guide them on the right path but that sorta seems to be in vain. The characters are very well defined, you will just love them. Through most the game, aside from a couple of chapters, you can choose to play as Ray or Thomas. Ray cannot jump higher, can carry a gatling gun, and is good with dual-wielding pistols while Thomas is the agile type, he can climb, use his lasso to get to high places and is a excellent sharpshooter. I used Thomas the whole game.

The story is well written, you interact with all of the characters from Call of Juarez and see how they got where they got. Even old Calm Water has something big to say in Bound in Blood although his name now is Running River (you will see why) and you will find out (if you haven't played Call of Juarez) why the sudden change in Ray's temper. From the killing-machine to the peaceful Priest.

The graphics are .... well I drooled all over my keyboard. They are great, it really resembles the (few) western movies I've seen.
You get to visit a Ghost town, kill some indians in the forest, shoot from a moving wagon.

The sound is also good, I liked the voice-acting a lot, but I encountered a problem. If the person talking was behind me, i couldn't hear anything he said until I was facing him. Must be my computer, but i didn't have this problem in any game... so it must be from the game. Maybe I'll try it again when I put my 5.1 system back.

The HUD is very simple, well...actually it's empty. No health bar, the health regenerates (pretty fast) when you stay behind cover a bit (call of duty style), the only thing that appears is a meter .. concentration-meter... when it's full you can enter concentration-mode ... and well that's a different story. If you play as Thomas when you enter the concentration, the time slows down for a bit, and you can one-shot-kill every enemy that was is sight when activated.Tthe target will

automatically be put on a enemy and you just have to draw your mouse back and click. For Ray, the time slows down as well, but you have to move your mouse over the enemies, and mini-targets will appear on them... when the concentration-mode is over, he will automaticly shoot those targets this consumes no ammo....and you can enter the concentration with one bullet, put as many targets you can, and he will shoot them all. Also, another thing that was put in this game was the auto-aim... since i have a mouse, and not a X360 or PS3 controller in my hands I think it kinda ruins the game a bit. But, it did come in handy sometimes. Also the game offers a cover-system, a pretty god one actually. You don't get into cover every time you approach something bellow your belt (mass effect, gears of war), but every time you stand next to something the character moves his gun/guns/rifle, around the thingy you are facing so it can shoot. It took me a while but I shot someone from underneath Ray's arm.

Saving the best for last. The duels. Instead of Boss-fights, at the end of some chapters you get to duel with a character. This consists of you (camera centered on your hip) and the other one facing each-other. You can move left or right so you will always face him (he moves too), and when the bell rings (which is kinda weird when you duel is in a collapsing Aztec ruin.... WHAT BELL ?) you draw and shoot. That feels great, there is almost no sound, everything except your opponent is blurred, and you draw your hand closer and closer to the gun... and then the bell rings...and BAM! Really nice.

One major problem would be that it is too short. I finished it in less then 5 hours on normal difficulty.....

the bad: auto-aim, too short, sound problems, no health
the good: graphics, atmosphere, voice-acting

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Lord of the Rings: Conquest Review

Platform: PC
Genre: Third-Person Action

So EA Games thought it was about time to milk the LotR franchise again.
They took a look at Battlefield and thought... why not put swords and axes?And they did. What world should we create? After some days of counting the dust-bunnies, they had the solution. Let's use Middle-Earth.
I will admit now that I haven't played any Battlefield games, only Star Wars Battlefront ... which I heard was pretty close to them, and LotR Conquest is very close to SW: .... it resembles Battlefield... I guess.

Anyway, the game is mostly directed on it's multiplayer part. In singleplayer you have two stupid/stressful campaigns. First is the good campaign, then you unlock the evil campaign. The Good campaign let's you play through some of the key battles from Lord of the Rings. Before each mission a cinematic with clips from the movie will be played (getting somewhat tiresome...after so many LotR games). Then you get to choose a character. There are 4 classes each with their different weapons, attacks and special attacks. Each have low/medium/heavy strike mapped on the mouse (in my case the medium attack was set somewhere in the void of the keyboard, my mouse-wheel just won't click). Anyway, except these basic attacks, when something fills up (what fills up, depends on the class you are playing), you get yo use the "specials". So, the classes:

Warrior: the most stupid class to play, At first this was my choice, I always like playing with the guy with a biiiiiiiig sword. It has some combos and fierce special attacks but it dies quickly and.... that's it.

The scout: a.k.a. the rogue. He can sneak behind the enemies and insta-kill them. Also he can single-handed beat any enemy as long as he is in stealth-mode and gets behind them. Even Mumakils, trolls or siege towers.

The archer: no clue, only used him in the tutorial, where I had to.

The mage: the most powerful class. In one mission where I had to defend a spot, I went with the warrior. It didn't work so well, but when I tried the mage... well I went through the whole game only with the mage afterwards. He has healing, a spell-projectile shield, fire wall, chain-lighting and physical-staff-in-the-head-bonk attacks. And as Baku would say, the greatest class in the game would be Gandalf.

Heroes: They are more-powerful versions of the above only with one extra-damage-doing-thingy (Aragorn has the army of the dead).

Well, I haven't played the game in multiplayer, but it doesn't really look balanced to me. The campaigns are short. After doing the good campaign, comes the evil one. Here, I was expecting (as always) a plot with a some side-turns or whatnot, but instead in every mission you have to kill another one of the fellowship's
members while resurecting some of the bad characters (Witch-king, Balrog).
The sound is pretty neat, well it's the LotR OST which I listen tosanyway when i play Oblivion/Morrowind. The graphics look old and dusty, but sometimes they can catch your eye.

the bad: no saving (I know it's a multyplayer based game, but they could've made a quicksave), crappy balancing (my opinion), faded graphics
the good: it ends quickly, the soundtrack

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Elder Scrolls IV: Shivering Isles Review

Platform:Cheese powered PC

"Everywhere I look, I see ... butterflies. They come with me everywhere, all the way to Sheogorath's Palace. How did I get here ? I found a strange door in the water. The door was calling me, shouting my name with the power of cheese. Walking towards the palace I came back and went on the other way. I lost my mind, the despair caught me ...everything lost it's color, my lips couldn't form the shape of a smile.

Everything was hard. I could barely place a foot in front of the other.

When I finally arrived, Sheogorath spoke to me. I couldn't make any sense of it. The pure genius of his madness overwhelmed me. I think he was one of the most brilliant men ever created. My bag and it's content made me remember of my previous days spent in Cyrodiil but as time passed it got full of new interesting things. I started collecting madness ore so Cutter could make me mad armour.

I met a lot of interesting people on the way, they were... unique but most of them needed help. I helped them and I had to go to the craziest places. The landscape, either if it was gloomy or colorful amazed me all the time.

The only thing I started to dislike were the corridors. I think I went through a lot of them, especially upon finding out the truth and ending the madness.

Overall, this was one the most amazing adventures I've ever been on. "

the bad: maybe a bit too many dungeons at some point (but this is a thing of taste), the really bad part is that it ends
the good: it's a piece of art

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Starcraft (the Boardgame)

Platform: Your own livingroom/floor
Genre: Boardgame

Finally me and Baku got this boardgame. We waited for a long time to see how it is. The first problem we encountered on this epic journey was the high price. After solving this little incovenience, we rushed to the mall and got a huge beautifully colored box. We took a cab home. On the way we couldn't erase the big grins on our faces.

After washing our hands and decontamaniting the area we opened the box. A green-ish fluid started pouring out and ... wait wrong story. A awesome smell of "new" came out. We started opening the bags with the beautifully modeled pieces and cutting out the rest of the pieces we needed for the game. At first we were amazed by the sheer number of different pieces the game had to offer.

We took the liberty of trying to guess the rules, but then we turned to the rule-book. 
5 hours and 2 pacs of ciggaretes later we knew the basisc and how to start the game... at least.

Now, more than two weeks later, we can proudly say that we know how to play the game. Of course we had a little bit of help from people who already played the game before.
At the start of the game you choose a faction you play, represanted by a.... representant
(disclaimer: this phrase was not meant to make any sense). So, you have two representants for each race from the original PC game (Zerg, Terran, Protoss). After choosing your side you get to choose your starting planets, and you have to link your planet to another existing planet on your map. Anyway there a lot of rules and very complex.

Generally speaking, while playing you will have the opportunity to build more bases on other planets, buils and army, upgrade or build buildings, research new technologies, attack another player or just advance with your army. There is a Event card deck, from where players will draw cards under certain circumstances.

The winning conditions are numerous. Players can win by having the most Conquest points, by fullfilling theyr special victory condition or by killling every other player on the map.

This game, although it's complex, is extremely fun. It consists of a lot of situations, where you have to backstab even your best friend so you can achieve victory in the end. Imagine that you bought the game and a figurine was broken. After throwing away almost 100 euros on this one, you start feeling sad, but then you have a bit of glue and a idea and you fix the broken figurine. After a while a friend comes over to play, and you show him the broken figurine, he doesn't see it, but you tell him " watch out, there is a broken one, take care !", and then he victoriously pulls another figurine from beneath him and says "Oh, you mean this one ??" And then, while still pointing at the one on the map... you hear that devilish sound "I'll kill you !!", but still the expression on your face and on the other players faces that know about the only figurine broken is priceless. The only thing you can do, is to say "no problem, I'll fix it" and move on with the game.


Whatever you do, after you get over the twisted manual and the rules, you will have a lot of fun with your friends playing this game.

the bad: Pretty hard to learn by the rulebook
the good: Fun, it's never the same map, it's never the same game

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Dark Mysteries (A Gothic MOD) Review

Platform: PC
Genre: MOD (RPG)

MODs, they are one of the few things (beside fans) that can make a game live longer. Sometimes they give a few extra quests/levels, enhance (or de-enhance) the graphics, optimize the game or they are a total conversion of the game ... changing well... everything. But from to time, from the deepest bowels of creativity, a few people arise
in a golden aura while angels sing lullabyes at their feet. Oh yeah, and roses fall from the sky. THEY, are dudes gathered on the internet or whatever, who share a passion for one game and MODing. Combining theyr forces they will embark on a journey that will ... eat theyr time, nerves, but will make us all happy. These are the people who are able to make a MOD... a long MOD and blend it perfectly with the games story, setting, making you wonder if it's official add-on.

The MOD I'm talking about is Dark Mysteryes. A MOD for Gothic 1 (yeah that old crappy game that gets everyone saying "duuude, really?" when I play it over and over again) which introduces some new camps, a new and interesting secondary-main-plot-which-you-should-play-cuz-it's-absolutely-brilliant-hypen-hypen-hypen.

The setting is the same as Gothic 1, the penal colony, with some new magical caves that appeared out of nowhere... and other parts added, as you go through the story. The new camps added are the Miners Camp (near the Old Mine, you can actually join them), the Fanatic camp, The Smugglers camp, The Bandits Camp (actually it's the Gothic 1 bandit camp, but they don't all attack you on sight and there's actually something to do there) and the Orchunters Camp. The main story (of the MOD of course) consists of you finding out some Dark Misteryes (I'm not gonna spoil it) the only thing I'm gonna say is that you will meet the Primevils.

The zones added are absolutely brilliant, especially the Underground world. Some quests, things from gothic 1 that didn't make any sense got "upgraded". So anything you remember that didn't make sense, like dudes in a cave running away from u on sight... now have a role.

Of course this is just some heaven-descended people's ideas, but I liked them .. and they all fit the Gothic universe/setting, including the steroid-fed-catapult from the mine camp.

There are a lot of new weapons. From normal swords (some with new models) to weird 1 damage special swords and helmets have been included into the game. Besides the scroll and rune magic, now we have crystals (that work just like runes). I can't say much of the new spells, cause, as always, the mage/spelcaster class is the last one I play in a RPG, especially Gothic. Almost forgot, you can learn weapon forging and cooking as well.

Here is a list with all of the extras.
Personally I loved it, and I'm waiting for others.

the bad: some won't play it cause of it has outdated graphics.
the good: (damn it, i should give bad marks to games too) it blends great with the story of Gothic (the first :D )

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Need for Speed 3: Hot Pursuit (1998) Review

Platform: PC
Genre: Racing

Going through my CD's, I found this... I remembered having a lot of fun with it so I reinstalled it.

Well it doesn't have the flashy graphics, or realism, or ... practically it sucks !
NOT !!!
I didn't have so much fun in a while with a racing game. Maybe this is not quite factual.... because this is one of those games I played and replayed and rereplayed... for a few years in a row. It was those times when a simple button asigned to lights: on/off made me very happy.

So, reviewing this game....

It's structured into 3 different sections. No career mode. You can choose to do a championship, or a knockout or enter the hot pursuit mode. In championship you get to race on every track. The cars are divided into 3 classes. You choose a car from a class and all the opponents will be from the same class. Same for knockout, only..... obviously knockout rules apply. For those of you who grown up in a cave with no electricity and take Jurassic Park as a documentary, in a knockout race, the last player in a lap is eliminated. Last but not least, hot pursuit mode. You can choose either to finish a race while being pursued by the cops, or to be the cop and catch a whole grid of opponents (meaning 8). The easy part is that you can choose the number of laps a race has. But in this mode a mysterious force enters. For whatever reason you cannot choose Ferrari or Mercedes. Maybe the carmakers thought that their image would be stained by a police chase even in a game. dunno... anyway.

The game has a lot to offer. A large variety of cars (helped by the modder community, that still make cars for the game), challenging well-thought track, an in-car camera ...that worked when I was younger. Not even the Bible could make it work now... or my IQ just dropped in the last years.

I enjoyed the game again, as I used to... It's a tremendous source of fun that i would recommend for anyone.

the bad: Maybe some wouldn't play it for it's outdated graphics, the Ferrari-Mercedes mystery
the good: The fun it offers regardless of age

Mafia Review

Platform: PC
Genre: Action

'Now we that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak and not to please ourselves"

Spring 2003

I was in school, playing GTA 3... with cheats (of course).
Young and restless. One day, a coleague of mine said something to someone I didn't know.
Coleague: Did you finish GTA ?
Dude: Yes, long time ago.
Coleague: Damn it, how did you pass .... (some mission)
Dude: It was easy, you just have to ... (unimportant details)
Dude: But anyway Mafia is way cooler. Just finished it.
Coleague: I know. Wait you finished it ? I'm still trying to get the first mission done.
Me: What ? What's that ?

And so it begun. A beautiful love-story that lasts till the day that is .. today.

Anyway. It is a story-driven sandbox-game. You start as Tommy Angelo, a taxi driver. Soon, you get a offer you can't refuse... and you'll be joining one the Mafia famiglias in Lost Haven.

The cutscenes are well made (at least for that periodic), the faces are really expresive and detailed. There are a few long cutscenes, but i assure you they will never got boring (i've been through the game a LOT of times, and i never had to skip one because i got bored). The camera angle, the voice-acting (with some italian accent) and the scene itself makes you just wanna get them out of the game and watch'em all as a movie.

The city is interesting. It's bigger than GTA 3's Liberty City, it has a train that you can take to move around faster, a lot of pedestrians you can run over, but i wouldn't recommend it and working lift bridges. The police can cause you problems. They will come after

you if you run a red light, crash into another car or go over the speed limit (you can turn on a speed-limiter and not worry about this anymore). If you do one of these, and a cop-car or a cop is in your immediate area, you can just stop, pay the fine and go on. But if they hear gunfire they will take you down. The city has a little minus in variety. You can see the same Pepe's restaurant or other buildings one by the other. But anyway, it's not much of a deal. Also, even if you can drive around the city, in the career mode there's not much too see. No unlockables no nothing. You can enter some buildings and yards and so on but only during the missions. One nice thing is that the city has it's own countryside, where there are no cops... and it sorta looks better. I know that at my crappy computer which I had back then, in the city I was around 12-13 FPS, but in the countryside it ran smoothly ..purrrrfect. You can just walk through the town without bothering of the mission in free-ride mode.

The missions are .....well you just can't get bored ! They all start with a cutscene, than one the members teaches you how to steal a new kind of car (yes you can't just steal any car at the beginning of the game), then you get your gun/guns and of you go. You drive to the mission spot... Carefully... each hit/bump will reduce your HP.. shoot some guyz or something, heal, more shooting, lovely cutscene and come back (sometimes, on the way back you can do a side-mission). You can't save in this game, but it has some automatic checkpoints, and they are not veeery far from each other. At the end of every part of the mission there is one. Also i just have to mention the Fairplay-Race. It is one the hardest things I've done... (and I only got it done at the third playthrough)... till then I used a exploit.

The characters are well-made and you will just love them, or feel very sorry for some of them...The voice-acting is marvelous.. voices like Mike Sorvino or William DeMeo (from the sopranos) give live to the characters.
It looks great, it sounds great (the soundtrack consists only of 1930's jazz).

Oh... i forgot to mention, the game takes place in 1930. :D
The car-models, and any model actually make you really "feel" the era. The producers tried to make it feel very real. So if u shoot the tank of a car, it will run out of fuel
You can see all of the cars in the carcyclopedia provided in the menu. Also with the passing of time/missions. Each mission having it's own year/date.. and scripted weather/daytime (yes, it doesn't have a day/night circle) there will appear new and better cars on the street.

After completing the story a new mode (freeride extreme) is unlocked. This one consists of some mission (GTA Style.. you get to walk/drive to them) which will grant you crazy vehicles. These missions vary from shooting three snipers, to following a UFO, or freeing a stripper.... that's gonna be eaten by a sea-beast.

"You know, the world isn't run by the laws written on paper. It's run by people. Some according to laws, others not. It depends on each individual how his world will be, how he makes it. And you also need a whole lot of luck, so that somebody else doesn't make your life hell. And it ain't as simple as they tell you in grade school. But it is good to have strong values and to maintain them. In marriage, in crime, in war, always and everywhere. I messed up. So did Paulie and Sam. We wanted a better life, but in the end we were a lot worse off than most other people. You know, I think it's important to keep a balance in things. Yeah, balance, that's the right word. Because the guy who wants too much risks losing absolutely everything. Of course, the guy who wants too little from life, might not get anything at all." (Tommy Angelo - Mafia)

the bad: aaaaa.....
the good: It's existence

Friday, April 24, 2009

RACE Driver Grid Review

Platform: PC
Genre: Simulator

Well, here we have it, Codemasters latest masterpiece. I heard a lot of people say that this is the game Dirt should've been, but i don't a
gree cause dirt was fun too. 

Anyway, we were ta
lking about GRID. So the game concentrates on your career as a driver and later on, as a official sponsored team. At first you drive for other teams 
untill you get the money to repair your car and start racing on your own. After that you get a "tree" of races. There are

 European races, American R
aces and Japanese races. Each with their different style and setting, and licenses. In total you get around 51 main events, plus a special event when you win every race in a "license" plus racing the LeMans at the finnish 
of every season. So from the nobody you are at the beginnig, you will get to buy 17.000.000 euro cars. 

The game is also structured in seasons, at the end of a few m
ain events you get to race in the LeMans series, with your team or for other teams. And then you'll be shown on what place your t
eam is, and where are you as a driver, compared to others. From some point on, you can hire a teammate. Each one of them come with their strenghts and weaknesses and are very good at one type of race. So choose someone that can win what you 
can't. Also the opponents Ai is brilliant, they do normal mistakes from time to time, and if you try to take on the leader he will fiercely defent his spot.

When winning a race, you 
different sponsors. Ypu can have a major sponsors (who pays double) and other minor sponsors. They have requirements from being on the podium to not crashing your car. 

Keeping on the line that Codemasters are drawing from TOCA 3 till now, there are all sorts of races, openwheel, drifting, touring cars, prototypes, endurance....etc.

Although is a 2007, i still think the game looks awesome, the cars are briliantly modeled. The sound is top of the line. Your "mentor" is telling you on the track on what spot you are, what you hit, and it has a huuuuge database of names and team names it can pronounce. Also your teammate willsometimes tell you his place in the middle of the race. Remembering my last PC, the game is low-res friendly.

Saving the best for last. Did you ever feel frustrated cause at the end of a races you hit something and lost 6 positions. Well Grid is thinking about you (and your keyboard, or whatever you like to hit in those situations). It has a prince-of-persia-time-rewind-feature called flashback. When you total your car or you feel you didn't do something right you can rewind time for a few seconds and continue from where you want. Also ..while rewinding you change the camera or stop so you can admire the crash. The number of Flashbacks is determined by the difficulty you are playing on.

the bad: sorry, can't find any, maybe BAku has some ideas
the good: the graphics, the sounds, the presentation, brilliant AI

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Godfather: Mob Wars Review

Platform: PSP
Genre: Action

"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli." (Peter Clemenza, The Godfather 1972)

This game is game based on a PC-game, based on a movie, based on a book. While the book and Francis Ford Coppola's movie were brilliant, the games aren't. If the PC version was acceptable, the PSP little-brother could be improved... a lot.

The game is divided into two sections, the story-mode and mob wars mode. Let's start with the story mode. You play as the son of one of the Godfathers associates. Your dad is killed and you get Luca Brazi to welcome you to the family. It's the exact same story from the PC version actually, skipping the character customization part. And skipping another non-important part. The free-roam. YES! You are being 'teleported' from one mission to another, you get to do the shoot'em part and then cutscene and then you are in front of another building shooting again. Not to mention that it means no more side-missions (well sort of). What are you shooting at? You are playing the main-missions from it's PC version.

The Mob Wars mode. This is a pretty neat idea. The city is divided between the 5 families (Corleone, Tattaglia, Barzini, Cuneo, Stracci) like the world map in Rise of Nations or the Total War series.... anyway, you got the point.... or like in Civilisation. (Ok, i'll stop). The game is turn-based. At the end of your turn you get to draw a card. These can vary from stealing money to lowering your Vendetta or Heat or to promote your mobsters. When you try to take over a teritory you will get a small action-part (like in story) which usually are the side-missions from the PC-version (I know, I compare them a lot). For those who haven't played the PC version, these consist of going into a shop (owned by another family) killing every mobster inside, put pressure on the owner (by destroying stuff) and he will pay the Corleone's for protection from now on. Also, in the back of some shops there are illegal activities (gambling spots and so on) that you can take over as well. To finish the Mob Wars mode you have to destroy each of the other families compounds (big buildings, lots of mobsters). If your Heat is high, the cops will join the fun and try to shoot your balls off as well. And the higher you Vendetta the more mobsters will wake up and dress up to kill you.

To finish The Godfather: Mob wars, you have to finish both modes. It took me 5 hours. It has no unlockables, no collectibles. Also if you want to finish the Mob Wars mode fast... go for the compounds as fast as you can.

Q: Now what makes the game a bit crappier ?? (saved the best for the end)
A: The bloody camera. IT stays very close behind you, making you think you have to ass-rape your character at some points. You can't rotate it while walking and you can lock-on targets that are in front of your character but you can't see them because the camera is admiring a beautiful light-bulb somewhere and not them. (enough said). Camera-control... BAD !!!

'I want no acts of vengeance.(...) This war stops now.' (Don Corleone, The Godfather 1972)

the bad: The friggin' camera, no free-roam.
the good: The graphics, the characters look just like the actors, marlon Brando's voice, Nino Rota's Godfather theme :D:D

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. Review

Platform: PC
Genre: Arcade

I can't say I have a extended experience with flying games. The only ones I have played were Retaliator (a game the size of a floppy disk), IL-2 Sturmovik and MS Flight Simulator X. The last two weren'
t quite my style. Too hard. But, still I played them for fun, I liked
 crashing planes. Now, I gave HAWX a go. It's not a hard-core simulator like the MS series, but still it can provide a lot of fun.

You start a Story-driven campaign (19 missions) as a pilot for the US Air Force. But they kick you out (damn budget) and you get hired by the Artemis Private Peace-keeping-army-that-

actually-tries-to-get-SPOILER !!!.

The missions vary from escorting, killing everything that moves, flying low-altitude under the radar coverage, opening the way for ground units, defending a city (Rio de Janeiro, I went straight into Jesus's arms). Every killed enemy grants you XP, and when you level up
 you get new planes and arsenal. After completing the game I am at level 20, but some types of arsenal are unlocked at level 40. So happy-happy-joy-joy !!! Single Missions FTW ! Also the more and better you use a weapon, certain achievements are unlocked, granting a big load of XP.

Don't get demoralized by the fact that it's a a flying game, it couldn't get any easier than this. Using the alt key, a corridor will appear to show you the best route to hit the enemy or evade the rockets. But if you like a bit of challenge wait till you get the assist on/off option. This will put the cam
era in a far 3rd person position, and the action gets accelerated, plus you can get your engines 

stalled if you're taking quick turns.

The garage/hangar is impresive. From the blackbird to the eurofighter typhoon (and much more which i didn't unlock yet) from bombers to fighter jets... there are a LOT !!!

The Graphics are ok. Not top-of-the-line, but OK. The sound is great.

So, if you want to have a lot of fun, you should play HAWX.

the bad: Too easy for hard-core gamers
the good: big source of fun.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Grand Theft Auto IV Review

Platform: PC (sadly)
Genre: GTA
Well I waited a long time to play this one (finished all GTA's 100%). One weak before the release I broke the piggy-bank and went smilingly to the store to order a PC-upgrade (I bought a nVidia 9800GT with 1 GB DDR 3 video-memory). And then i waited (both for the game and the video-card).
So, after waiting, I entered the new Liberty City (let me guess, we'll have a Vice City and a San Andreas) and my first shock was that ..... A cow fell on my car. Kidding, actually on medium details I had 12 frames. Like WTF ??? Anyway, the game got a patch and now works ok-(ish) .
You start as Niko Belik, coming to USA to live his cousin's American Dream. But the money, girls and cars that his cousin had were just a illusion. After getting on the mobs black list even that small something goes bye-bye. So Nico has to repair it all.
Gameplay.... well it's GTA, running people over, chasing pedestrians with rocket launchers, or with a helicopter.... being chased by the cops. This part of the game got easier, during a cop-chase on your map is displayed a radius. You just have to get and stay a few seconds out of it and the police will go back to their donuts. If you wanna shoot their brains out, GTA IV gives you a great covering system. So, if you want, you can take cover by almost in the game (maybe not behind a can, that would be useless, wouldn't it ?). There's not much of a armory though (why didn't they leave the dildo ?).
The city of Liberty (a copy of New York, again) looks better, the producer's made it big, and interesting. You have cafe's, stand-up comedy shows (which some are really funny), club's, minigames (pool, darts, bowling), internet cafe's (where you can meet girls on-line, or just surf it.... has a lot of "lore"), hookers. Even the pedestrians look different, unlike the previous titles. Bored of walking, you can take taxi's/cab's to where you wanna go. Unlike the latest GTA's you cannot buy mansions or houses, you get them at certain points in the story (just like your phone). Yes, you get to have a phone, and put custom wallpapers, which you download from the internet, you can take pictures with it, call people out, or just have fun disturbing the cops and then take pictures of them.

Calling people out, can improve your relationship with them. And when you are maxed out, you can get cool bonuses, like free weapons... and so on. Also the 100 hidden packages are not to be found anymore. BUT they have been replaced with 200 pigeons that you can murder. Good Luck !

Although it doesn't have as many activities as GTA San Andreas it has a lot of features. Like the phone, the internet, the TV (with 4-5 channels), checking the cop-car computer to see the most wanted in town and so on. But what makes the game so dull unlike the previous titles. Mainly it's the exagerated realism. They took out the hunger meter, but all cars control realisticly (i know, i liked it also at the beginning) which in high-speed chases can get annoying. GTA was about having mindless fun, now you get to have thoughful-fun. Although it's fun seeing Nico Fly out the windshield of the car, Flatout Style.

The easter eggz (if you find them), are a real ROFLMAO. Try searching for the heart of Liberty-City.

The game looks amazing. I almost drooled all over my keyboard. I don''t know what more to say about it. Now, after the patch, you have more graphics option, and after taking out the shadows, and stuff related to water, I can run the game decently on high details and 1680x1050 rez.

It sounds as always, a lot of humor in the radio-stations. But the rock station sucks (for me).

What more can I say. Enter Liberty City and find out.

the bad: try a computer from NASA
the good: It's still a GTA

Call of Cthulhu: Dark corners of the Earth Review

Platform: PC
Genre: Adventure/FPS/Horror Survival/Cookie Monster

It took me a while to get around to finishing this. This is one of those games you love to hate or hate to love ... I'm not quite quite sure. It's a great(-ish) game for the most part.

For those that have any sort of connection with H.P.Lovecraft's work or with the Cthulhu Mythos this game is a gem..for those who don't it's still a good game and it will make you want to find about Cthulhu. The game starts in one of my favorite places - Arkham Asylum (Batman ripped off Lovecraft in case you were wondering, not the other way round), a mental institution where the main character is just about to hang himself. That means it gets a gold star from me right from the beginning. :)

It takes place in a small New England town called Innsmouth which is ruled by the Order of Dagon and to quote one of the weirdo citizens "they don't take kindly to strangers". For those familiar with ol' H.P.s work you get the idea, for those not so familiar here's the short version: Innsmouth=bad,bad place, Order of Dagon not like you so much, fish people try kill you. Was that clear for everyone? Thought so.

Gameplay-wise it tries to be an adventure game ... mostly ... when it isn't trying to be a FPS ... when it isn't trying to be a stealth game ... ah you get the point. This game is as hybrid as it gets but in a good way. Puzzles are moderate to easy in difficulty, the FPS parts are Ok, stealth can get pretty annoying and the boss fights are interesting and pretty unique. Since I'm on the subject, stealth can drive you insane in this game since you are forced to do these sections and you can only do them in one specific way. Another infuriating part would be the insta-death (just add water) which you get for no apparent or maybe just because the intergalactic counsel of space monkeys deemed it necessary. You just get killed of for trying to get past someone just because you forgot to turn a valve somewhere or something of the sort ... but then again it probably makes sense in fairy land. Also an interesting feature they added was the fact that your character can go insane if he looks at dead bodies or monsters for too long etc but that you'd think he'd get used to it at some point ... oh well, it's pretty entertaining to see him shoot himself while looking at a statue of an octopus-faced thingie.

CoC is by far one of the most atmospheric games I've ever played but the constant backtracking you have to do from the middle of the game up to the end can get tiresome fast. So does the fact that they ran out of character models somewhere along the line and you get to see the same ugly hulk-like dudes spouting the same "friendly" lines all the time ... it gets Frustrating ... believe me on this one. Also it's buggy as hell with a few game-breaking bugs just for the heck of it and NO patches.

I suggest playing this game in short burst, with a few friends around to relieve the stress and a walkthrough ... you'll need it. That being said this is a unique and great game if you manage to stick around 'till the end.

So how does the cookie crumble?
the Bad: Stealth, Insta-die, Bugggggss
the Good: Great atmosphere, Good story, Lovecraft

Gothic 3 Forsaken Gods (pre-patches) Review

Platform: PC
Genre: RPG

Finally I got Forsaken Gods, I was happy, I wanted to see the rest of the story, Gothic rullz... I was installing it (why do you have to wait.. damn it)... I started playing... and I finished .... Mario.

Here comes the new chapter in the Nameless dude's life. Well, this one is full of amnesia. The nameless dude, the items , the story, the world, the people, the menu... the inventory everything is clouded with amnesia.

The story begins in the Unknown Lands where the Nameless dude and Xardas fight each other over the fate of Myrtana. It is said that Gorn attacked Thorus (who is leading the Orcs). After a long battle George Michael (as i call the nameless right now, after loosing his pony-tail in G3, now someone has thrown gel into his hair), is attacked by bandits and ... u guessed it.. he forgot everything... again ... What a whimp.

The items have a will, and amnesia of their own, the crown of adanos (for example), after being destroyed in G3, stubbornly appears in the mines in Geldern, or the great Wrath of Innos which you find on an Orc. You would think people are more careful with ancient weapons coming from gods.

At least they (tried to) improve the combat system, putting a stamina bar on the creatures, so they cannot attack you for ever. This works sort-off well. And that's pretty much all that can be said.

It keeps the Gothic open world free roam, but being the same Myrtana it doesn't really make you want to explore it all over again. Also Varant and Nordmar have been closed, at the entrances you find huge-meteorites have fallen ... or huge invisible walls.

The NPC's also got their part of amnesia, after they tell you "I don't have anything to tell you", trying to talk with them repeatedly will make them remember. On the other hand George Michael has a psycho-power knowing what they're gonna say. It happens that you can choose the dialogue-line the NPC will say. Not to mention those Water Mages (although you killed them all in G3) who will grant you the Dark Mage, Fire Mage and Druid skills.

The scary Orcs have personality issues, besides being named Nicholas/Sylvester/whatever some of them have the wimpy-human voices from G3 (you must play to understand, it's too friggin stupid to explain). Oooooooooo very scary. Also George Michael got a new voice, but when he tries to open chests and realizes that he doesn't have enough lockpicks, his old voice comes into play. Speaking of lockpicks, you can steal anything, anytime, with anyone around you.

The graphics look a little-bit better, but that's it.

Hope Arcania will get Gothic back into it's great-game spot.(Baku:The great game thing is debatable and now we know Arcania really didn't)

the bad: it's existence. It feels like a MOD, a interesting one, but that's it !!
the good: Seems a great Gothic-parody. maybe with patches it will feel better

Necrovision Review (or what i call the 4Ds)

Platform: PC
Genre: FPS

So for my first review I'm going to sink my fangs into Necrovision. Now to clarify this isn't an actual review since i didn't finish the game or even play half of it for that matter but I had my reasons as you'll see.

First off this game is what happens when you let the dark side win (I can assure you they have no cookies and the cake is indeed a lie). The game was created by a mixed team, half were creators of Painkiller and the other half creators of Medal of Honor. What we got was a WWI shooter with zombies and/or evil thingies trying to kill you. Pretty standard stuff if you ask me except for the part where the hero finds it complicated to walk up those damn stairs but we'll get to that. I don't know how they managed to screw it up considering that Painkiller was just plain fun and as Yahtzee pointed out it had a gun that shoots shurikens and lightning so what more could you ask for.

Never Ever and did i mention EVER try to play this on a low'll get to see some very pretty pixels up close and personal. Might be because of the older Painkiller engine that's used or the misalignment of planets but the game looks horrible on lower resolutions so just don't (yes, i have played it on max res and everything at a friends house, this does not affect my review).

The game starts with a nice cutscene that makes no sense whatsoever showing a guy with some type of metalic kill-a-demon(TM) arm that ..well...kills a demon with it. Well it was either a demon or a guy who fell through a lot of barbed wire and still looked cool while doing it. Afterwards you kill some dude, get a gun, and you're off to save the world from demons(TM) yet again. Nothing wrong until you notice that the soldiers shooting at you have a button called "press and instantly hit main hero" since they shoot you every time and from every location as probable or improbable as it may be. Did i mention they wear like 3-4 kevlar vests each? It's easier to teach a baboon poetry than to kill something in Necrovision. I loved both game the devs made but someone should tell these guys never to make a game together. The pacing of this game sucks: you either get one enemy or a swarm, it takes ages to reload and most guns are useless anyway because of the recoil. So what are you left with? Trying to kill zombies with pistols or alternatively a shovel. So let's say you get to level 2 then you get a cinematic than makes no sense since it has nothing to do with what happened just a few seconds before...if you make any sense of that story I will personally make you a nobel prize out of gold and pancakes.

So how does the cookie crumble?
the bad: Story makes no sense, Should be called Die-o-vision, Hates low-res
the good: The shovel, Killing 50 zombies with a shovel, It has the 4Ds(Die! Dead Dudes Die!)

(this will be updated when the planets align and i finish it so..I'm never gonna finish this or play it again...ever)