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