Saturday, January 28, 2012

Need for Speed The Run Review

Platform: PC
Genre: racing

Again, november came with my birthday and a new NFS title. As always the NFS was a gamble not sure if it's gone go into the good pile or into the let's_just_pretend_it_didn't_happen one. Well ... we s
hall see.

You are Jack, a professional racer who took a wrong rurn and finds himself tied to the steering wheel in car to be crushed. A bit later you free yourself and so the game starts.

On the first note, after playing The Run on hardcore after finishing it
on normal ... I noticed that in the intro movie ... "Sam" says that it is a 3000 m

ile race and then i noticed it . It was the perfect driving game I always wanted ... it's the actual Gumball3000 game ... although it's presented as race not a rally. If you don't know what Gumball is here is a shirt sentence from a Gumball participant:
"Gumball in 1 wrapsentecnce: if you haven't done it in tour lifetime you only do it once and take it to your grave and say "that's the best damn thing i've done in my life" "

So, moving on with the game ...
The story (which is pretty short to be honest ...) takes you all over America from the Golden Gate to the Empire State. From behind the wheel (well, not literary s
ince it doesn't have a cockpit view) you will see around you frozen snowy mountain passes, huge plains consumed by storms or lifeless deserts. Also you will pass through big cities like Chicago or New Vegas. The game is divided into stages, each with it's own kind of environment. The cities are sorta major checkpoints which await the player with some quick-time events ... Yes a Need for Speed game with on_foot quick time events. Although it sounds weird and some might say that it destroys the series ... but they offer a nice distraction from a time to time. And the producers didn't exaggerate with these so they won't annoy you a bit (I have to say that in one playthrough you have ti perform around 4 or 5). They also give some action to the story taking the player from the steering wheel. And so the game gives it's story a bit more importance and makes the player get a bit more involved.

Although the story is something new, it's important how it's delive
red, right ? Again, as any Need for Speed game, it's looks are above jaw-dropping/puking-rainbows. The vehicles are very nicely done and the level of detail surpasses anything from it's category. Also, like in Hot Pursuit(the 2010 one), all of the traffic is fully licensed and got the same attention as the vehicles you are driving/have access to. On the same note, the environment looks awesome ... from the icy roads to the weather effects or city landscapes filled with highways, skyscrapers or subway stations. Although all of these come with a high-price. The game doesn't have any directx9 support. It only runs on 10 or 11 s
o ... you might a need a computer with a bit of power to fully enjoy everything the game has to offer. It also sounds good ... the voice-acting is ok ... not perfect ... but ok, the cars sound awesome and the music is very well chosen and it differs from stage to stage.

Although the game delivers on the story, graphics ... sound ... it is not all perfect or not even ok. If you (like most of the population) buy the simple version instead of a limited edition, the game will constantly taunt you. In the beginning when you get to choose your first vehicle, you will be presented with two more option nicely labeled "Available if you bought the Limited edition" (or something like that). As for the other cars, after completing the game you haven't even unlocked half of the cars ... Most of them come from the multiplayer.

Here, we bump into Autolog again (not like it's a bad thing). By beating your autolog times, or your friends times you get to unlock cars. Also you get a sort of multiplayer challenges that will grant you cars. From the singleplayer and multiplayer you get XP which will increase your driver level ... and will unlock different stuff like better nitrous, badges, icons, profile background and some cars. When you start a multiplayer game, you can choose between different series of races and at the beginning there is a wheel that will determine what the winner of the series will get (of course there are some cars that can be unlocked only from here). The problem with the multiplayer is that it's very laggy ... the oponents just teleport or fly or whatever around you ... and at the start of a race it gets very very messy because of this.

These being said, the franchise made a step forward with it's storytelling and I wish to see more like this one ... but it still needs some polish ...

the bad: short story, multiplayer
the good: presentation, car list, the last race (if you get a certain part on your first try ... you will feel awesome)

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Friday, January 27, 2012

Indies in Review Part 1

At the time I'm writing this these are all the indie games I own and have played. I have finished some and barely played others so I will just write my impressions here not reviews. A few of them will get actual reviews later on if I'n not lazy and who knows maybe I'll help some people decide if they want them or not.
I'm breaking this up into 3 pieces since there are 24 games I want to talk about.

Anomaly: Warzone Earth
This is a reverse tower defense. You control a commander and guide a team of upgradable units through zones full of enemy towers during a campaign that spans across 3 cities and has leaderbords for those of you that want to show off. It has good graphics, pretty bad voice acting but good music and it's fun especially if you're tired of the standard tower defense formula.
A lot can be said about this game but to be short it's absolutely brilliant. It's a skill based 2D Action-RPG with a lot of style, beatiful scenery and a unique premise. The world is falling apart and your character, known only as the Kid, is the only one that can get to the Bastion a supposed safe haven from the chaos where he may find answers to what is happening. That's all I'll say about the story since i don't want to spoil it for anyone. What also sets it apart from most games is the narrator who describes everything you do and makes it seem awesome even if you're just swinging your hammer around destroying crates. It has a nice selection of weapons and skills but it's the atmosphere that gets you hooked.

Beat Hazard
This is a throwback to those oldschool games where you control a space ship and wait for meteors and enemies to attack you from all sides. The twist on this is that it does all that with some very shiny effects, a good variety of enemies and bosses,online coop and leaderboards and it's all to the beat of YOUR music. If you like mixing games and music this is a good one.

Binding of Isaac
I personally love it but wouldn't recommend this to anyone who is easily offended since it has a very twisted sense of humor. Gameplay wise it's a twin stick shooter with dozens of randomly spawned items and enemies that create a different experience every single time you start it, and you restart a lot since it's very easy to die here and it doesn't save anything. It's hard but rewarding and I give it a thumbs up if you can get past the blood, guts and insanity.

This is like playing Pong with an opponent that has 1 billion ballz that went insane. It doesn't really have much on the graphics side but it does reward you with some extra effects if you do chains. All in all I found it very boring and it's also very easy to lose which means you don't unlock the next stages..the next 3 anyway since it only has 4. Not very good, I say pass on this one even if it's on sale like it was for me.

Blocks That Matter
Awesome little puzzle game. You play a cube shaped robot with a drill and you have to collect blocks made of different materials and with different properties to use them to find solutions to each level. I greatly enjoy it and it poses quite a challenge at times so I recommend this to anyone who enjoys puzzle games.

Breath of Death VII & Cthulhu Saves the World
I want to talk about these two games together because they were made by the same developer and they are very similar. They are both very very old-shool JRPGs in the vein of things like Final Fantasy 6 and Phantasy Star IV(which I highly recommend btw) but with a brilliant sense of humor that mocks some of the cliches that can be found gameplay and storywise in these types of games. Very entertaining and will get you laughing out loud so get them if you have ever enjoyed a JRPG.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Medal of Honor Review

Platform: PC
Genre: FPS

So a long time ago there was this game series called Medal of Honor, a shooter concentrating on WW2 events. But a part of the team working on the games left because they wanted to introduce some new
mechanics that EA didn't agree on. They made their own game called Call of Duty. At first it was a WW2 shooter just like Medal of Honor. But with the fourth installment called Modern Warfare they really hit it big (the previous ones were good also). So Medal of Honor was forgotten. They tried a resurrection with airborne but that didn't go as well as expected. Now EA (actually somewhere a year ago) tried to come back with Medal of Honor, a reboot to the series that seemed to be a copy/paste of Modern Warfare.

The story sets up a conflict between US and Afghani forces and unlike Call of Duty it is not as "big". Instead of going on a world domination spree, or the US getting it's butt kicked by another country it focuses on a smaller combat area ... some mountains somewhere and it follows the stories of 4 soldiers present in the war. The stories are pretty tied to each other, and you will get to like some of the protagonists and/or their friends. You don't have to be a genius to see that the whole game revolves around a true event and it's kinda tribute to the real soldiers fighting on the field.

The shooting monotony (found in any war-FPS) is split up by some ATV-driving sequences and a rail-shooter like level when you are in a Apache helicopter taking down ground targets. Like mentioned before I thought the game to be a Call of Duty rip-off but I can say I was pleasantly surprised by it. The story had it's cinematic moments, and developed step-by-step to a pleasing ending. They actually made a good story, without too many rambo-one-man-team moments and made me feel sorrow for some of the guys when holding a position in a house crumbling around us and ammo draining by the second.

While the game looks ok and the gameplay is nothing out of the ordinary, the one thing that really shines is the sound, and here I'm talking about everything included: voice-acting, soundtrack and pew-pew sounds. Also I just need to mention the Linkin Park ending song from the credits which really hit the spot.

One complaint I would have about the singleplayer campaign is that it's waaaay to short and the quality of the cinematics that are not rendered with the games engine is dubious to say the least.

Also I cannot mention a bug due to it's size. Somewhere at the begining of the game I went into a yard and almost everything wasn't there. I could see only door-frames and floating objects. When nearing a door I could clearly see enemies spawn behind it (actually inside a house I guess) and could kill them through what should've been walls.

Moving on to the multiplayer.

This is a different story, and when I say different I mean completely. The game was divided between two teams for the single and multiplayer components. So the multiplayer was made by DICE (known for their Battlefield games, which are awesome played online, although I suck at them). But here they kept their formula and even put the Frostbite engine in (the singleplayer being made in a heavily modified Unreal Engine 3) ... still it's not as good as expected. They only put in 3 classes (assault, something and sniper ... probably named differently) and 15 levels for each. For as much as I played is a total dissaster ... since there is no balance and higher level player can kill you before you even twitch (it might be my poor skill ... but still) ... I will come back with more info about maps and game modes when I'll play more ... 'till now I haven't seen anything new or innovative.

the bad: short campaign, bugs, unbalanced multiplayer
the good: story, presentation, Dusty (what ? I really liked the guy)

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