One of my worsthabits is procrastinating, so that means that often I review gamesout of order. In fact, I played Alpha Protocol before Front MissionEvolved, and FME before Bioshock 2, and of the three games I onlyplayed AP twice. Alpha Protocol was a game that I heard about, wasinterested in, but waited for the game to be on sale beforepurchasing it as the reviews for the game were crap. Is the gamecrap, or the reviewers? Read on to find out.
You are AgentThorton, a recent recurit to the secretive Alpha Protocol, andeveryone's out to punch your balls to the moon. Abandoned by AlphaProtocol and hunded by your own government, you need to stop aninternational conspiracy that could destabilize the world.
As Thorton, youhave a range of options in defeating your enemies. Sneak past them,go in guns-blazing, or kung-fu your enemies to an early grave. Thegame features an adaptive storyline in which your decisions affectthe world around you.
I'm going to startoff with the story of Alpha Protocol. Being a spy game, you'reprobably familiar with quite a number of double crossing and romanceand tough decisions. In general, the storyline is predictable butstill well told, and the characters are likeable.
One cool aspect ofAlpha Protocol is the real adaptive story of Alpha Protocol. Thosewho have read my review of Mass Effect 2 probably noticed how Ibeamed at how your actions of Mass Effect 1 had an effect on whathappened in Mass Effect 2. Well, Alpha Protocol takes that to 11. Thegame fills you with tough decisions, relationships, and choices thatdo matter. Be a suave player to everyone you meet and you'll gain areputation for being an immature prick, but be a professional toeveryone and it will precede you. Kill the wrong person in coldblood, and you'll find that you might have less allies throughout thegame. Do you let a terrorist go if he promises to help you expose agreater conspiracy? Do you choose between a woman you love or thelives of others? Protect a politician or his constituents? What ifprotecting the former will save even more lives by preservingregional stability? These choices you make in one mission, say inRome, will affect how character's perceive you in Moscow. I considerthe story of Alpha Protocol as somewhat predictable, but it's welltold and the details are well done. The adaptive story is containedin that you still have to follow your main objective, but the detailsand stories leading up to it is flexible. In my opinion, it's thebest example of adaptive story-telling that I've ever seen, with nogame really coming close.
Thorton'srelationship with other characters however is cumulative. AlphaProtocol relies on a rounded group of individuals who will interactwith Thorton, and these interactions are numerous, so yourrelationship with characters evolve over time. Having a goodrelationship with the last level boss, surprisingly, means thatyou're given the option to switch sides. Having a good relationshipwith some of the chicks in the game means you get to bone them ofcourse, and having a good relationship with certain factions andpeople means that you can call on their support for missions. Being asuave d!ck to a guy long enough and he'll want to kill you. Beprofessional to him and he might decide that he likes you enough tooffer you a job. If this sounds arbitrary at first (after all, whoknows who likes what?), the game is littered with collectibledossiers on personalities, which give a general overview ofcharacters' personalities. In general, you meet a well-rounded amountof personalities over multiple interactions, so you get a gist of howcharacters will react. I also found the characters to be more likablethan in say, Front Mission Evolved. In fact, I liked them a lot,because each had his/her own motivations, priorities, and distinctivepersonalities.
The game uses aconversation system similar to in Mass Effect's. Instead of seeingwhat Thorton will say, you have a selection of attitudes. Usually,they're Suave (James Bond), Aggressive (Jack Bauer), and Professional(Bourne). The only problem with the conversation system is that thegame sometimes forces you to make decisions quickly. One time Irestarted a level because the game made a choice for me because thebattery on my mouse died and the game chose a $hitty decision. Thisdesign is pointless, and serves no real purpose. It's a RPG, athinking-man's game. Let him take the time to think.
After your firstmission, you have can choose three other locations to go to: Rome,Moscow, and Taipei. You'll have to go to all of them, but you choosethe order, and from there you start off in a safehouse as a base. Ifyou've played KOTOR, then you'll get a general idea of how the worldworks, though missions don't cross cities. From each location, youcan pick and choose which missions to go and what order (yes thissometimes makes a difference). Thus, the game follows a containedopen-ended gameplay style.
To aid you, thegame offers you a solid variety of weapons and misc upgrades toassist you in your missions. The six primary weapons are your fists(CQC), pistols, SMGs, shotguns, assault rifles and grenades. The gamelets you bring two weapons into battle including gadgets (likegrenades). CQC is basic punch-punch-jumpkick-button mashing, butcatching an enemy unguarded is an instant KO/Kill. Because the levelsare closed enough, CQC is an effective option if you like corners.Pistols are the stealth weapon of choice, and SMGs, Shotguns andAssault Rifles are loud ouch-makers. Each weapon has multiple ammotypes, For example, Assault Rifles might have subsonice silencedrounds and Shotguns might have phosphorous shells. Alpha Protocolalso uses an effective grenade system in which holding down thegrenade button shows you how the grenade will bounce and land, and ifyou're next to a wall, you can usually turn that grenade into a sortof mine. The game also features a copious system of upgrades andmodels for the four primary guns, and attachments for your armor. Ingeneral, most of these items modify statistics like recoil andwhatnot, like a high quality reflex scope increasing bullet accuracy.Regular fans of my blog (do they exist?) will know that I'm a big fanof customization. The problem is that, in contrast to Crysis's weaponmods systems, there aren't any visible or real gameplay mechanicchanges. As I'll mention later, having impressive scopes won't helpyour aim too much.
And of course, youhave certain abilities. Most of them don't make too much sensehowever. There are some that suddenly give your SMG unlimitedammunition, there are some that allow you to pause time for 30seconds as you pick your shots, and there are some that turn youvirtually invisible even if you slit peoples' throats. The jury's outon the abilities, but they're there.
The game is notwithout its fair share of problems, especially with its gameplaymechanics. The first problem is the stealth system in the game. Inother games, for example Metal Gear Solid or Thief, there's a systemthat tells you how visible you are. This is important because youreally need to know how far an enemy can see before you sneak acrossan aisle or try to sneak against an enemy. Alpha Protocol kicks thisto the curb, and forces the player to guess how far an enemy can see.Early on the game, you're going to be frustrated at how well yourenemies' senses are. Later on the game a stealth-focused characterwill have no problem, as you'll probably gain a better sense of howthe game mechanics work. Until then, you're pretty much boned. Thismay seem minor, but think of it; this is a spy game, so wouldn't yoube playing a stealth character? Having a broken stealth systemseverely handicaps the game. Interestingly enough, the game does showthe visual range of CCTV cameras.
You might ask, “noproblem, I'm a stealth sniper anyways” in which case the gamepunches your crotch. The only sniper rifles in the game are levelspecific, and controlling them is incredibly inaccurate and overlysensetive. What I mean is that your target is to your right, so youmove a bit to the right and then the enemy is then too far to yourleft. Yes, that annoying kind. Are there long range weapons? Sort of.As I mention, the game provides you with pistols and assault rifles.The problem with them both is that the game refuses to move away fromthe third person so you're always stuck in third person. Zooming indoesn't bring you up to iron-sights or the scope, but just a closerover-the-shoulder view with Thorton's head covering half the screen.At lower levels, you must be extremely close (several meters) foryour aim to focus, if not you could be aiming right at an enemy'shead, fire, and the bullet will be off and hit the body, annoyingyour enemy and attracting attention. At max levels, this is less of aproblem as your aim can focus from further away, but noobies willdefinitely be in pain. There's a pistol focused skill that allows youto pause time and aim at heads, but since it's a skill, there's acooldown. So yes, the ranged/stealth aiming in the game is brokenalso.
Supported OS: Microsoft Windows XP®or Windows Vista®
Processor: 2.4+ GHZ Intel® or 2.0+GHZ AMD™
Memory: 1 GB RAM (Windows XP®,) 2GB RAM (Windows Vista®)
Graphics: NVIDIA® GeForce 6 series(6800GT or better,) ATI™ 1300XT series or greater (X1550, X1600 Proand HD2400 are below minimum system requirements)
Hard Drive: At least 12 GB of freespace
Sound Card: DirectX® 9.0ccompatible sound card and drivers
The game runspretty well, and on max settings runs above 35-45 fps. Unfortunately,I didn't run FRAPs long enough to get a good run on the performance.It is smooth, but the game does run into a slowdown problem, though Ithink it's more a bug than anything.
When AlphaProtocol was released, it was slammed hard for being a bug-riddenmess of a game. Considering that I'm playing the game several yearsafter it was released, it's expected that the game would be fullypatched. Unfortunately, Obsidian only released one or two patches,and it's still considered an overall buggy game. Fortunately for me,I didn't actually notice any real noticeable bugs...probably becausethe first few patches cleared up the most obvious ones. The only realbug I noticed was this really annoying slowdown when I turned mycharacter too swiftly...and I think it's a pretty common reportedproblem. Obsidian has officially given up on Alpha Protocol, andbecause the game is not moddable, you can only play Alpha Protocol asis. I didn't notice any problems when I played, but I certainly wouldnot be surprised if you did.
I purchased thegame on sale on Steam for $5, which is a fair price. Steam, thoughinaccurate as is, lists that I've spent over 23 hours on the game,which is fair for two playthroughs. Both playthroughs produceddifferent results from the adaptive story.
Alpha Protocol isan Obsidian archetype: great story, great premise, but poorexecution. The game features a focused (if not somewhat predictable)but adaptive story that works with characters that you can like. Inaddition, the overall game does strike a good balance between combatand stealth. But like other Obsidian games, there's a problem withthe execution, in particular its stealth/aiming mechanics. Theseproblems are significant enough to really kill the game of a higherscore, and will be understandably frustrating to new players to thegame (ie, everyone). What's unfortunate is that this game, if givenenough time, would make a great sequel (assuming Obsidian insuresthat the game mechanics work). So how about it Obsidian?
Quick, how many modern mech games are there for the PC? If you said Mechwarrior, you're too early, and if you mentioned the Crysis Wars Battletech mod, then I envy you. But if you said Front Mission Evolved, then congratulations, we're in the same boat.
I played Front Mission Evolved before Bioshock 2, and I've played Front Mission 4 for the PS2 years ago. In contrast to its tactics heritage, Front Mission Evolved is a third-person mech action game ala Armored Core and the old Mechwarrior series. In addition, it's one of the few mech games for the PC available. Is the novelty enough to sustain the game? In short...no. But for more details, read below.
The Front Mission series is typically known for its well developed and sensible gameworld and for its tactical action. Front Mission Evolved throws the latter out and kinda poops on the former; that means that Front Mission Evolved is really much more focused on third-person action combat. What both Evolved and the FM series shares however is a deep commitment to mech customization for uber nerds out there.
Fresh from playing Bioshock 2, I'm going to compare the story of Front Mission Evolved to Bioshock's...and in this department, FME falls pretty short. I guess the story is best described as...anime-ish; that is, it's a hog-bosh of different themes that are rarely developed and/or clichéd.The characters are unlikable, clichéd, one-dimensional or poorly developed. It's an okay story I suppose, dealing with hidden weapons technologies/sins of the father/revenge/and the occasional "why do we fight" motif, but like I said, it's pretty stale. This is made even more disappointing because Front Mission 4 had a far more developed story than FME does.
Like I said, anime-ish.
The gameplay in FME is overall satisfactory, though the game mechanics themselves are somewhat clunky. For example, the sprint button allows you to sprint forward and back, but it seems to have trouble moving horizontally and diagonally. In addition, the fuel for sprinting is far too little, even if you choose a mobile mech. It just feels too limiting. In addition, the game focuses a lot on this EDGE system, which is supposed to make your mech really awesome, but it's really just a slo-mo mode for your mech. The problem with it is that it takes too long to charge up, and it expires too quickly. That means that you'll never use it for the small guys (and you don't need to, as they're cannon fodder), but using the EDGE system against a boss doesn't really do anything too drastic. The rest of gameplay is pretty standard, with a mech going through levels with up to four weapons at once, firing missiles/grenades/bullets/etc. If this doesn't seem to describe enough, it's because with the exception of the mechs, the gameplay really is pretty pedestrian.
You have to admit, it does appeal to the testosterone in you.
"huff puff huff"
In terms of customization, FME more or less delivers. You have a bevy of options and attack styles to choose from. You can be a mobile sniper, a giant fu-king tank, and everything in between, and you can mix and match to your delight. Hell, why not carry a shield and brass knuckles with a minigun shoulder weapon? The only thing you need to worry about is power/weight. Power is determined by your torso build, sometimes your legs, and sometimes by other auxiliary compartments, and the more power you have, the more weight you can carry. Thus, it's going to be impossible to be some twig with dual miniguns/bazooka. It's a tactical decision given to the player. Unfortunately, the level design almost always favors close combat/bullet spamming, with generous ammo pickups scattered through the game, so you can forget about the sniper builds. The final problem with customization is that the game artificially limits your choices. Sometimes the game will require that you use a bipedal configuration or a track-wheel configuration, or you're forced to carry a ranged weapon. This is to force the player to try out different mech builds, but it also turns the game into a giant restrictive tutorial. I DO NOT want bipedal chicken legs, I want boss quad legs. Stop forcing me to change the build I like.
Sniper builds are very clunky.
Oh yeah, I hope you like small-head death.
The gameplay is thus satisfactory until you get to the boss fights, which then turns the game into a frustrating nightmare. The bosses all have far, far more life than you do, and do just as much damage. Your only recourse, however, is the constantly regenerating health and ammo pickups available, so each boss fight is a tired repetition of shooting all your crap at a boss to knock out 5% of his life, get beat up a few times, and then run quickly to a pickup, and rinse and repeat. In most cases, you will be outnumbered, with one fight being one against four, each of them far more powerful than you. This makes the fights, well, unfair. And the boss fights are not exactly open-ended; you're always in a small, limited arena so there's really nowhere to run and no real tactics you can use. If you picked a sniper build, then you might as well slam your head through the monitor. You can imagine the shock I got when I casually breezed through little enemies, only to die four, five times from a bossfight.
The last thing I will crap on is FME's minigame, specifically when you get off the mech and do some run-and-gun as a fleshbag. The game has two minigames, one that's like a turret game, and the other in which you get off your mech, grab a gun, and shoot some idiots. The turret game is fine, and does what it's supposed to. The fleshbag minigame is just crap. It's the most unpolished third person shooter in the past 10 years. There are only two kinds of enemies, generic soldiers and generic mechs.You also only have four weapons: SMG, Shotgun, grenades and a rocket launcher, and you use the guns to pew pew the guys. This is tolerable after one or two levels, but FME seems to want this bland minigame to be a big part of FME, which is where it falls flat. I suppose the only redeeming feature of it is that your rocket launcher carries 15 rounds with ammo powerups everywhere...so you can just use your rocket launcher to shoot everyone.
Bleh. Very, very bleh.
There's also a few mini-objectives, but it's just "destroy 15 hubcaps in a level",and the reward I guess would be achievements. Bleh.
Fun fun fun
I also didn't play the multiplayer, as I played with a bootlegged copy of FME.
OS: Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7
Processor: Intel Pentium D 1.8 GHzor AMD Athlon 64 x2 1.8 GHz
Memory: 1GB RAM (XP), 2GB RAM(Vista/7)
Graphics: 512MB NVIDIA GeForce 7800series graphics card or equivalent
Hard Drive: 11 GB Free Space
Sound: DirectX® 9.0c compatiblesound card
Controller Support: Mouse, Keyboard,Xbox 360 Controller
OS: Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7
Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4 GHzor AMD Athlon 64 x2 2.4 GHz
Memory: 2GB RAM (XP), 3GB RAM(Vista/7)
Graphics: 512MB NVIDIA GeForce 8800series graphics card or better
Hard Drive: 11 GB Free Space
Sound: DirectX® 9.0c compatible sound card
Controller Support: Mouse, Keyboard,Xbox 360 Controller
The game is a port, so the game's artificially capped at 30 FPS. The game otherwise runs fine, and the mechs look fine also. The rest of the graphics of the game are pretty much satisfactory. Unfortunately, there is no PC demo for the game. Don't rely on the trailers either; the trailers look awesome (as the FM series is known) but check out gameplay trailers instead.
I didn't notice any particular game-breaking bugs, nor did I notice any mods for the game. The game's at Steam for $30, which is way overpriced. As of writing this review, the game's on sale 75% off, but I really didn't find it worth my money regardless.
I was surprised that I gave the game such a mediocre score, but the game itself doesn't really do enough to impress. Yeah it's cool to play a mech that you customized, but there are a buttload of restrictions in place. The bosses are frustrating, the gameplay mechanics are mediocre, and the minigames are surprisingly poor. I suppose the only reason to even the get the game are for the mechs, but even then, I'd advise to hold off for the new Mechwarrior game or the Crysis mod. Maybe Front Mission should have stuck to tactical games.
- Make levels more open-ended rather than linear to allow for more gameplay styles
- Avoid restricting the player's mech design. No one likes it.
- Heavily rework the boss fights so that they're fair and not grindfests.
- Get rid of the fleshbag minigame or heavily rework it
- Make mechs overall more mobile, otherwise the game slows down. Increase burst limits.
With the announcing of Bioshock Infinite, its time to review the middle child of the series, Bioshock2. Long time readers (do they exist?) of this blog will remember that I covered the first Bioshock, giving it a 9/10 rank, though I'll be pleased to announce that Bioshock 2 far, far exceeds its predecessor. Read the review to find out what I'm talking about. This review will assume that you've already played the first Bioshock. And if not, I've got a review for that. Since Bioshock 2 really seems like an expansion to Bioshock 1 (like Crysis Warhead to Crysis), there aren't going to be any significant gameplay changes.
Several years after the events of the first Bioshock, girls have been abducted from cities near the ocean. You are an Alpha Series Big Daddy, recently awoken from slumber in a vita-chamber and given vague directions tofind your Little Sister.
The game features multiplayer, and of course, you now play as a Big Daddy.
Bioshock2 may not have the same novelty as the first Bioshock, but I feel that the story is somewhat improved. The player's primary contact,Sinclair, is more interesting than Atlas, and the enemy bosses you face have more developed personalities. I found collecting recordings to pique my curiosity more in Bioshock 2 than in the first. The only real gripe I have about the story is that the relationship between Delta and Eleanor (a Little Sister) and the origins of Delta himself needed more development. I also liked how the game develops the enemy faction in Bioshock 2. More importantly, the enemy faction is portrayed as three dimensional. While Andrew Ryan wanted to achieve utopia by the individual, Sofia Lamb wanted to achieve utopia by collective discipline. The development of an opposing philosophy to Ryan's is deliciously natural. Through the game, you see the genesis,evolution, and finally corruption of Lamb's philosophy, all of which is portrayed naturally and fittingly into Rapture. In short, the game world is given character, depth, and thus drives the player's interest in the game, something that I didn't really notice in the first Bioshock.
Metamorphosis and rebirth is a prominent theme throughout the game. If you're a Lit Major, you'll probably get it pretty quickly.
The moral choice system, however, is virtually on par with the first Bioshock. You're given the same option to rescue or save little sisters, but now you can also choose to kill or be merciful to key players in the game. It's not very complicated though; evil is kill,good is ignore. But like the first Bioshock, the game ending is exceptionally rewarding, and certainly one of those moments you remember from gaming history.
The question most people are going to ask is "so what's it like playing as a Big Daddy?". Deep down, the difference is pretty minimal.Instead of a pipe wrench, you use a drill, instead of a pistol, you use a rivet gun, instead of a crossbow, you use a spear gun, instead of a tommy gun, you use a mini-gun. The differences seem aesthetic, as obviously you can't overpower the character too much. The mini-gun,for example, carries the same amount of ammo as the Tommy Gun from the first Bioshock. On the surface, however, the differences is avast improvement. The guns look and feel bigger at least, and they have a lot of great features. There's great fun in spamming rivet traps all over the wall, or my personal favorite, launching a rocket-spear into an enemy and watch him run into his comrades and explode.Even the drill packs a lot more punch than that stupid wrench, making melee combat a viable and sometimes preferred choice of fighting.There's nothing quite like deep freezing an enemy, drilling him to the brink of death and then doing that classic Big Daddy drill rush to shatter him. Even when Delta moves, there's always this clunking that reminds the player that he's a walking tank with a drill, and everytime he's injured, he lets off that deep echoy moan that's more intimidating than anything your enemies let out.
Plasmid-wise,Bioshock 2 uses most of the same plasmids as from the first game,though now they're upgradeable. Because they're upgradeable, they start to develop more depth, and you have more combinations of attack. I personally used more at least half of the plasmids regularly, whereas in the first I primarily just used lightning. And you know what, there's nothing quite like watching a Splicer walk into a fire cyclone trap that launches him to the ceiling towards a lightning cyclone trap. Really, it's great. Unfortunately, they run into a problem mentioned below about upgrade and plasmid pacing.
Bioshock has its own share of misogynistic silliness
"Honey I'm ho-WWWWHHHOOAAAA!"
So is the player just way too overpowered then? Not necessarily. As the player upgrades, so do the enemies, and you'll find several newenemies in Bioshock 2, few of them are pushovers. The most well known is the Big Sister, an incredibly agile plasmid-wielding guardian of Little Sisters, whose very scream will make you crap your pants as you wait anxiously for her arrival.
In contrast to its predecessor, Bioshock 2 uses a much more simplified hacking system, and it's one size fits all (take that Alpha Protocol). Instead of that weird pipe minigame, it's just a simple button pressing game in which you press a button when an arrow is at a green/blue bar. If it's too difficult, you can freeze a machine before you hack and/or use tonics. In any case, it's a good if minor improvement.
Lame, but still better than anything Mass Effect ever did.
In the first Bioshock, the game gave players the option to take pictures of enemies, which would go into research points, providing the player with a few useful perks. In Bioshock 2, the research is a bit more obnoxious. Instead of a camera, it's a camcorder, and the game wants you to use different attacks against an enemy being recorded to score more and more points. I can't tell you how game-breaking it is to take out a camera to record a big sister as it's bashing your big @$ head around, and then switching off to the gun you wanted. Instead of putting the camera in a weapon slot, it should just require one-button activation (like the G button with grenades). After all,you don't need to keep the camera on your hands to record, just tostart recording. In any case, it's distracting and dumb. On the other hand, the bonuses are optional, and you are only required to use the camera once to get through the game.
"Say Cheese!" "Rrrarrggh...*drill punch*"
Here's a sample of some of the goodies you get from research
Similarly,the game's ADAM collection is similar but more obnoxious than from the first Bioshock. After defeating a Big Daddy, you can harvest or rescue a Little Sister right away, but most likely is that you'll take her to harvest corpses for ADAM. When she gathers ADAM, however,she takes her sweet time, and in that time you'll be swarmed by splicers. It's a great opportunity to place traps and such (which makes you take advantage of certain plasmids and weapons), but this gets old after a while, as does the corpse scavenging hunt.
"All right little girl, now go over there and stab the guy in the @$ with the syringe and get the good stuff out."
An additional gripe I have with the game is the random spawning, which happens way too often. Explore or stay in a level long enough that you recently cleared out and you'll discover one or two splicers suddenly appearing out of nowhere. You can argue that it's to keepthe game interesting, but how splicers can come out of rooms that I've just cleaned out is baffling. The game needs to increase the time for respawns to happen, because it kills the reward factor for clearing rooms out of baddies.
True to the game's philosophical background, Bioshock 2 is a game of choice. As such, you have as many possible play styles, all of which are quite satisfying. With the right combination of plasmids, tonics,and weapons, you have as many play-style choices as in a game like Deus Ex, maybe even moreso. Love meleeing the crap out of everything? Pick the Drill Specialist plasmid and combine it with a fully upgraded Drill and freeze to bash everything in sight to pieces. Want to stealth the game? Ge t the Natural Camoflauge and Head Hunter perk, and a spear launcher, and pin your enemies' heads to the wall.Want to go guns blazing? Get a fully upgraded machine gun (with anti-personnel rounds) with a cluster-rocket grenade launcher to clear rooms. Want everything else to do the fighting for you? Summonflying machine turrets, and go into scout mode and hypnotize enemies to create your own attack squad. If you cheat, you can have the most plasmids and purchase most or all the tonics. However, the game does force you to choose among which weapons to upgrade and which tonics/plasmids to equip, The game is generous enough that you can usually be a combination of some of the above templates, or make your own. You can be a jack-of-all-trades, but you can never be the best in everything.
Your options in upgrading are limited. You may be required to specialize.
My summoned attack turrets shooting the hell out of splicers. The security camera is hacked to my side, so it attack turrets will continue to be spawned.
Having trouble with a Big Sister? Draft a Big Daddy to help you out.
The only problem with the above formula however is that the game takes too long to introduce significant plasmids, tonics, and weapons to the player. Say for example you want to be a sniper. You would require the game's primary sniper weapon, the spear gun, and preferably upgrades and a tonic like the Head Hunter. Although the tonic is introduced fairly early, you won't get the spear-gun into the latter half of the game, meaning that for the first half you won't have a good sniper build. The same applies for being a stealth player in Bioshock 2. The best stealth tonic, Natural Camoflauge, requires that you research Houdini Splicers, but they don't appear until the latter half of the game. I understand that the game wants to ease the player into the game, but the player should pretty much have the foundations of the builds in the first quarter of the game. This is really just a pacing issue though.
A final annoyance I had with the game was it's weapon/plasmid selection order. There isn't a way to change the weapon loadout order. Usually this isn't a problem, but let's face it, there are guns that you won't be using frequently, so they might as well be in an order you prefer. After I completed all my research, I really didn't need the camera button to be between my two primary ranged weapons. Plasmids face the same problem, though they can be arranged. Unfortunately,they can only be arranged through a very stupid system, and gaining one new plasmid throws your entire system into whack. These are minor, but noticeable problems.
OS: Windows XP, Vista,Windows 7
Processor: AMD Athlon64 Processor 3800+ 2.4Ghz or better, Intel Pentium 4 530 3.0GhzProcessor or better
Graphics: NVIDIA 7800GT256MB graphics card or better, ATI Radeon X1900 256MB graphics cardor better
DirectX®: DirectX 9.0c
Hard Drive: 11GB
Sound: 100% DirectX9.0C compliant sound card or onboard sound
Processor: AMD Athlon64 X2 5200+ Dual Core 2.60Ghz, Intel Core 2 Duo E6420 Dual Core2.13Ghz
Graphics: NVIDIA 8800GT512MB graphics card or better, ATI Radeon HD4830 512MB graphics cardor better
Other Requirements:Initial installation requires one-time internet connection; Abilityto save game, earn achievements, receive title updates and onlineplay requires log-in to Games for Windows LIVE; softwareinstallations required including Microsoft Visual C++2008 RuntimeLibraries, Games for Windows LIVE client, Games for Windows LIVEClient Patch, Sony DADC SecuROM, Microsoft DirectX.
The game's recommended system requirements look quite high, but the graphics don't seem to differ too much from the first Bioshock. There is no PC demo available, though I can happily say that Bioshock 2 ran completely lag free with 40 FPS+ on my notebook computer with its dedicated graphics card on max settings. I believe if you meet the recommended system requirements, you should have no problem running the game. The game, like the first, also offers beautiful water and warm lighting effects.
Feel like peeing yet?
The game also takes you outside to see the ocean around Rapture. These screenshots don't do it justice however; it is absolutely beautiful.
Like I said, warm.
I purchased the game for $5 on sale, but the game retails for $20 on Steam, but can be purchased for $6.72 retail at Amazon.com, which is a STEAL for the kind of game Bioshock 2 is. The game also offers multiplayer, but my connection currently is too slow to play.
I didn't notice any mods for Bioshock, though there are DLCs. Some of the DLCs, such as the single player campaign Minerva's Den, cost about $10, which is more than the cost of the full game itself. Go figure.
I did not notice any bugs for the game. I don't think the plasmid-selection thing is a bug, just a design fault.
I actually didn't get into the game with particular high hopes because of the lackluster reviews it has received, but those reviewers can get punched in the face by a drill. I was playing one of the middle levels of Bioshock 2, laying traps for splicers, when I realized out loud that this game is fu-king awesome. The pacing is a bit off for weapons/plasmid development, but otherwise the game is remarkably flexible and fun. If you liked Bioshock, or thought it was mediocre,then would you kindly give Bioshock 2 a try?
- Introduce guns and plasmids within the first 1/4 of the game. This gives the player enough time to develop and use their preferred styles of gaming early on.
- Have a quick button for recording film so that players don't have to switch to a camera.
- Allow weapons/plasmid order to be rearranged to the player's liking.
- Reduce the time for little sisters to gather from corpses. It just takes way too long to get this done, and doing this over again becomes tedious.
- The random spawning is especially annoying. Either get rid of it, or increase the respawn time.
- This is somewhat optional, but I would prefer a system that lets me master everything. If not, how about through a second playthrough?
This time I'm going to be reviewing another expansion to a game. More specifically, I'll be reviewing Crysis Warhead, the sequel to the game that started the phrase "But can it play Crysis"?
Crysis is known as the successor to the Far Cry series, which set the player in an open-ended tropical jungle setting. When Crysis was released, the game touted several highlights: destructible environments, a nanosuit that granted you special abilities, and open-ended gameplay, but all everyone really cared about were Crysis's standard setting graphics, which became the de facto game for comparing systems and video cards. Considering that Crysis 2 has already been released, and that Crysis Warhead is allegedly better optimized than the original Crysis, it's worth taking a look at how the expansion turns out.
I've reviewed Crysis before over a year ago. We'll see if the sequel is up to the original game.
In Crysis, you are a Delta Force operative sent to ruin the $hit of the North Koreans as they unearth alien technology. This time, you'll be playing the role of Psycho,a British SFOD soldier who was introduced in the original Crysis. To aid you in your mission, you'll be equipped with the nanosuit, a suit that can give you super-speed, armor, super-strength, and invisibility. Unfortunately, your North Korean counterparts are armed with the same.
The game's features are the same as in the original Crysis: you're situated in a lush and beautiful tropical island. The game also features things like destructible and open ended environments.
Gameplay in Crysis Warhead, as expected of a sequel, is very similar to the original Crysis's gameplay. It's a reasonably open-ended shooter, offering you a wide range of vehicles and guns to command (like a single-player Battlefield game). It's really standard FPS flare with satisfactory mechanics. More information can be provided in the original Crysis review. The game also now allows you to fight with other Delta Force operatives.
Ahhh!! Zombie Koreans!
Other members of SFOD
The game also features a number of vehicle levels. The vehicle levels are satisfactory, but most vehicle levels can be completed without mounting the vehicles, though you'll be at a disadvantage. Even then, the game will generously supply the necessary hardware for you if you're taking the beaten path.
I briefly mentioned this before in my Crysis review, but the weapons in Crysis are customizable. This means that the vast majority of guns can add at least a few attachments to them, such as grenade launchers, silencers, tranquilizers,laser/flashlight, incendiary ammo, and over three kinds of scopes.What is the point you ask? The point is that it allows weapons to have multiple-roles rather than being the role that they're assigned. You no longer have to throw a gun away just because the scope sucks or because you want the grenade launcher attachment. If you want more range for your shotgun, add an assault rifle scope. If you want your sniper rifle to be usable in close quarters, use are flex scope. This attachment system should be adopted by other FPS games. There is one problem with this system however. In order to get the attachment, you have to pick up a weapon that has the attachment.You can't just walk over the weapon like you can with ammo, and if have full ammo already you can't pick up the attachment without shooting a bullet or dropping your current gun. In addition, there are only three weapon slots for all your crap, with the first being hands/pistols, the 2nd being regular weaponry like shotguns/grenade launchers/minigun/assault rifles/etc, and the third for special explosives. For the first two, you can only carry two weapons, so you're going to be making tough choices for guns. You can cheat and disable this, but then the gun-switching system becomes messy. Use a 1-5 rule or something.
The physics system is the same as in Crysis, which is impressive but incomplete. It's less robust than other games like Red Faction but there's more things to blow up than in regular FPS games. You have this curious system in which 75%of a house can be blown apart, with the other 25% remaining invincible. You can pick up some heavy planks and items, but you can't pick up all of them.
So...only half of the house is made in China.
One very tough wood.
In any case, it trumps Red Faction and Bad Company in at least one aspect: the ability to fu-k around and laugh your @$ off while you do it. There is a supreme amount of satisfaction you get when you pick up a melon or chicken and super-throw it into an unsuspecting dude's face. Turning invisible and messing with people is still great fun, though the game's AI does interfere somewhat (they shoot me when I hold explosive barrels when invisible).
Chicken! Meet FACE!
Pew pew pew boom boom! Fire bullets!
"WHAT HAPPENED TO THE CONGA LINE?!"
The game itself is also easily moddable, so you can edit the game values giving you more freedom when playing. When I played through the game a second time, I hacked my player, allowing me to have super strength, super speed, and near infinite energy. I remember b!tching about how Crysis doesn't conserve momentum when switching from speed to strength mode. Well,now that I run at 2x my normal speed, I don't need it. And when I use speed mode, I run as fast as an airplane and can run up mountain walls now. I'm a superman who punches jeeps and APCs to an explosive death, and dear god that is delicious fun. The broken physics do put a cap on your fun (I can casually punch a jeep 5 meters but I can't pick it up) but it's still stupid fun. The only problem I noticed is that because the game doesn't recognize such superhuman values, I've had situations in which I've died running extremely quickly onto jeeps, or died because my super-strength Arnold tripped over a stick that smacked him in the face to death.
One gameplay aspect that differs between Crysis and Warhead is that the latter is more linear.Usually, open-ended sandbox gameplay is optimal nowadays, but I've found that the original Crysis was probably too open ended, with long stretches of nothing in between flash areas. Sandbox games try to encourage exploration, but exploration itself must be rewarded with secrets or treasures, which Crysis doesn't really have. There are ammo caches stashed here and there, but they're always situated in hot spot areas, so making an overly open ended game really serves no purpose. Warhead is more structured, and instead of sandbox there are"multiple-paths-to-the-same-objective" routes, which I find better paced. There are open-ended levels here and there, and I found them to be more tedious than the linear ones. Either Crysis does linear better or it does open worse.
The game's system requirements are:
Supported OS: Microsoft Windows XP with Service Pack 2 or Microsoft Vista
Processor: Intel Pentium 4 2.8 GHz (3.2 GHz for Vista), Intel Core 2.0 GHz (2.2 GHz for Vista), AMD Athlon 2800+ (3200+ for Vista) or better
Memory: 1.0 GB RAM (XP) or 1.5 GB RAM (Vista)
Graphics: 256 MB
Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce 6800 GT, ATI Radeon 9800 Pro (Radeon X800 Pro for Vista) or better
DirectX Version: DirectX 9.0c or 10
Sound: DirectX 9.0c compatible
Hard Drive: 15GB
If you want to play this game on high, you're going to want to surpass these settings. I played the game on high but shadows disabled, and I've achieved a very smooth 30+ fps. The shadows in Crysis are beautiful, but shadows in Crysis or any game kill FPS, and it was worth it. The game is beautiful without shadows, and having smooth fps to me is more important. Keep in mind that you want AT LEAST 2 GB, but don't alt-tab with anything less than 4 GB. I've played with 2 GB and 4 GB, and the latter is sooo much better.
However, keep in mind that this is a 2008 game, and when it came out DX 10 was just released. Now there's DX 11, so the graphics are considered dated especially when you consider what's been released.
Once again, the game features very impressive water and lighting effects
The game, as it's patched right now, is not particularly buggy, but there are bugs. The problem is that I don't know if it's due to my playing with the settings or because the game is just buggy with its physics. In one save, I couldn't switch guns nor use grenades. This only happened once, and once I restarted the level nothing happened. In another case, you have some weird physics like this:
Ahhh! Ghost Gun!
Usually, it's nothing worth getting upset about.
The game is also stocked with mods. I haven't used any, but I know there's a huge mod community out there for both Crysis and Warhead. This adds value to the game folks. The game also includes Crysis Wars, the multiplayer mode that I didn't bother to play. The game retails for about $15 or so, but don't be fooled, the game's regularly on sale for cheap on Steam. If you're in no hurry, get the game with the original Crysis or on sale.
I was pleasantly surprised getting into the game. My experience with Warhead was much better than my experience with the original Crysis. Was it because I'm playing with a better system and had a smooth gaming experience? Or did Crytek just do a more polished job? In any case, Crysis Warhead is an excellent game (and not just graphic wise, which is kind of dated now). It's polished, moddable, and has better pacing than its predecessor. I had a thoroughly excellent experience playing, and I beat the game two times in a row and enjoyed my time doing it.
"I'll let you figure it out mate"
- This probably doesn't count, but change the game settings so that death due to unusual reasons happens less often. Dying from a falling sheet of metal, tripping on a stick in super-strength mode, or dying from super-speed tripping is only hilarious the first five times.
- Use a 1-5 weapon system. 1 is for melee, 2 is for pistols, 3 is for SMGs/Shotguns, 4 is for Assault Rifles/Sniper Rifles, and 5 is for explosives, and 2 options for each. It's not that hard Crytek.
- Smoother transition between powers. Let us use two at once. Or fu-k it, let us use all of them. Why not be Superman?
- How about a smoother throw system? Let me pick up everything! The current one works fine, but I want to beat the game by just throwing barrels like a sci-fi Donkey Kong.
- Physics. Everything destructible. Do it.
I'm on an indie game roll. This timeI'll be reviewing another flight game called Dogfighter, which I gotin the same bundle as Altitude. Instead of 2D sprites or a 2D plane,however, we'll be gaming in full 3D from a first/third person shooter perspective. Does Dogfighter match up to Altitude? We'll see below
As you can guess by its name, Dogfighter is a game about aerial dogfighting, and itreplaces traditional deathmatches with wings instead of feet. You can choose from a variety of game modes, planes, and maps and duke it out with other planes in the skies, in the while upgrading your gear with pickups like air mines and cluster rockets.
Before you begin the game, you have to choose a game mode. The modes of the game arepretty standard. You have your deathmatch, team deathmatch, freeflight, lone wolf (one against all), survival (same?), and CTF. You can also toy with more advanced settings like number of players,difficulty, unlimited boost, insta-gib, turbo mode, and Black Death.I would have preferred more objective based gameplay like in Altitude.
After which, you can choose the maps and the plane. One very positive aspect of the game is the level design, which I'd call creative and brilliant. The levels are well designed, with both open spaces and tight spaces which would make for exciting dogfights. Unfortunately, the rewards for going to particularly harrowing and risky routes are the same as taking the same open ended route, so there's no incentive to visit said areas save for curiosity's sake. In addition, the AI doesn't really make an effort to do that either, so you'll rarely find yourself in any tight spaces. The planes look nice and all, and there are definite gameplay differences among them, but since you're all painted the same color and do the same thing (kill in the air), I don't tend to notice them too much in the game.
There are only six maps available
The maps however are well designed and interesting, each equipped with hidden twists
Looks cool, but there is no way out, and you will crash.
The gameplay depends on the mode, but usually it's pretty simple: pick up as many powerups as you can and kill everything that's not on your team. The game plays as a traditional deathmatch game (Unreal Tournament or Quake 3), except without cover. The game usually offers both offensive weapons like cluster rockets or rail guns, and defensive items like invisibility, healing, or screwing up someone else's controls. The difference between Dogfighter and the traditional deathmatch FPS is that now you're in the air, buzzing past each other trying to kill the enemy without crashing into a wall like an Asian driver. The core gameplay in any case is acceptable and solid without breaking any new barriers.
Asian Driver exhibit A
One gameplay-killing aspect of the game is the imbalance between aiming and maneuvering. When you're aiming, especially from far away, you need the mouse to be less sensitive; the target is going to move, and you need to snipe them. However, because the game is a game of dogfighting (duh), you're also need to constantly move, so you require high sensitivity settings to bank and re-find targets. In most cases when I was playing, I'd be targeting a plane and laying it on him, and then he'd fly beyond my screen (usually dash right past me),and then I'd have to reposition to find the said target again. But because the settings were set to low, I turned too slowly, and that is frickin annoying. Having high sensitivity means that you'll aim like a drunken frat boy playing a game of darts.
Ha! I've got you now you yellow son of a b!tch!
...God fu-king damn it.
Even the aim mode is horrible, though it's better than the third person mode for aiming
This leads to another problem, which is that of finding and evading enemies in a 3D environment. The game provides a compass and arrow directions that show you where your target went, they can't really give you an idea of true spatial direction; you can be below/above a target and not even know it, it'll just show on your compass that you and your target occupy roughly the same space. Again, this is very annoying.Another problem is evasion. Naturally, when an enemy is chasing after you, you want to do a loop, pop up behind your opponent, twitter your mustache a little and laugh as you blast an enemy down. When I do loops in Dogfighter, I usually end up in front of my enemy again still, or I'm completely disoriented and my opponent has disappeared.In any case, no mustaches are twirled.
Another annoying aspect of the game, in my opinion, is the music. It's heavy rock guitars all the way, and I find it to be distracting during gameplay. In addition, it seems out of place when you consider we're flying around with WWI-WWII era biplanes.
OS: Windows XP (SP2 or more),Windows Vista (SP1 or more), Windows 7
Processor: 2.0Ghz Dual Core
Memory: 1GB System RAM for Win XP, 2GB for Vista/Windows 7
Graphics: 256MB DirectX® 9.0ccompliant supporting Pixel Shader 2.0 or better
DirectX®: 9.0c (latest)
Hard Drive: 600MB or greater
Sound: Direct X 9.0c compliant soundcard
The game will run fluently on most modern gaming systems. If not, tweaking the settings will probably help significantly.
A demo is available on Steam.
I haven't noticed any particular bugs in general. One extremely annoying aspect of the game is how the menu and game mouse sensitivities seem to be out of whack. When I calibrate the mouse for in-game use, the menu scroll speed is incredibly slow. Otherwise, no bugs to speak of.
In terms of value,I purchased this game as a bundle with Altitude, so it's 5 games for$5, which is a steal. The game's fine for $1 purchase, but there are only five levels and the game modes are pretty pedestrian. A case can be made that, because the levels are done so well, that it's efficient like Team Fortress 2, but the gameplay is far too shallowto really support that claim. The game usually retails for $10, but I'd wait for a price drop.
The game also offers no mods.
Dogfighter's strengths are its well designed level, but its weaknesses are its core gameplay mechanics, and no amount of polish can really save it from that weakness. In particular, the sensitivity conflict between aiming and flying and the difficulty in maneuvering in a 3D environment can really hurt gameplay. This really contrasts with the supreme efficiency and grace that Altitude has. The parts that Dogfighter can improve in is the addition of more levels, a more balancing of weapons/defensive items, and more gamemodes. I can see which niche the game will appeal to, but if you're not typhically inclined towards flight games, I'd try the demo before buying the full game.
- Increase the number of maps and gamemodes. The maps are brilliantly designed, but the gamemodes are kinda boring.
- The defensive items need to be improved. Instead of air mines, why not reverse heat-seaking drone mines?
- I don't know how, but the core gameplay mechanics should be modded or a mechanism should me modified so that manuvering and tracking is done better. Maybe a lock-on mechanism for targeting will at least resolve some of the sensitivity issues.
- Power-ups are random, but the ones placed in difficult locations should be better than powerups placed commonly in the open.nWhen doing a loop, the game should zoom out to a long third person view so that you don't lose orientation
In my last review, I wrote how I was itching for more Alien Shooter 2. Well, apparently the gods have answered my prayers, because I've just downloaded and beat Alien Shooter 2: Conscription and Zombie Shooter 2, and I'll be reviewing both of them at the same time in this review post. Considering the similarities among AS2:C and ZS 2, I'm not going to go deep in depth as to the gameplay, but will instead mention some of the similarities and differences among the three. Read my Alien Shooter 2 review for more depth in the games
In Alien Shooter 2: Conscription, you play as a conscript who is drafted to fight against the alien invasion. The game plays more as an expansion, introducing new varieties of aliens, weapons, maps and story, and offers slight technical upgrades from the original Alien Shooter 2.
Zombie Shooter 2 is more like a total conversion of Alien Shooter 2. The game uses mostly the same weapons, but includes new vehicles, and all the enemies are converted to zombies. In addition, it's longer and has more technical upgrades than what's offered in AS2:C.
But with the same thrilling and blockbuster story telling apparently
Gameplay for Alien Shooter 2: Conscription is very similar to what was offered in Alien Shooter 2. It's a top down isometric shooter in which you kill several thousand aliens. There is the introduction of new guns, aliens, and levels, but overall it's really more of the same. The game is also significantly shorter (not surprising being an expansion), and the levels overall seem less exciting. Story wise, the game's predictable but satisfactory. The game features only one vehicle, but has more weapons available and gear available.
But now with more Fallout Power Armor action
Gameplay for Zombie Shooter 2 not surprisingly is also very similar. Instead of aliens, you'll be killing zombies, which range from slow Romero zombies to rocket launcher carrying zombies, so think Resident Evil x 100 with this one. As always, you'll be mowing down hordes of zombies at once, and although the game feels similar to Alien Shooter 2, it feels slightly slower paced because of the use of zombies rather than aliens. Levels are appropriately large, vehicles are appropriately destructive, and bosses are appropriately big and mean.
And you can do it all wearing bright red hot pants
In terms of new content, Zombie Shooter 2 offers more. Conscription adds in a few extra items, aliens, and levels, but it really feels recycled. Zombie Shooter 2 follows the same formula of Alien Shooter 2, but it does it better. Aliens are changed to zombies, so there is that feeling of being swarmed. The game also offers a much more interesting vehicle than Conscription's. In terms of weapons and gear, both games seem to offer relatively the same amount of new guns and items. It's a definite step forward, but I felt that Zombie Shooter 2 should have added much more.
Robots vs Zombies. You knew this was bound to happen.
Zombie Shooter 2 does, however, does introduce a few new problems to the series. The weapon selection system has been changed. Instead of a slot for pistol, shotgun, assault rifle/machine gun, explosives, and energy, shotgun/assault rifle is combined, and explosives/energy is combined. In addition, pressing button 2 or 3 twice will exchange your current weapon with another from the inventory, leading to clusterfu-king when you need to juggle between 3 or more weapons. Combine that with the random loot system, and you'll find yourself magically replacing your .50 Cal machine gun with a pea shooter accidentally when you were looking for your auto-shotgun. I would have preferred Alien Shooter 2's 1-5 button system but with an alternative slot for each weapon category.
You can still switch off to this lava sword thing, but there's only one flamethrowing weapon in the game, hence why I said the game needs more goodies.
One thing that hasn't changed among the three games is the extras; they're still pretty much the same offering of survival, career, and gun stand.
My character is actually standing right next to a red car. Notice the darker shades of red in this survival level.
Gun stand lets is a defense game in which you can choose upgrades every new level.
Like the rest of the game, it's pretty chaotic and bloody.
Both also offer new technical improvements, with both of them now offering a 16:9 resolution (but not my own resolution), and ZS 2 also features things like film grain effect for that extra horror element.
Both of these screens give an example of the film grain effect
OS: Windows 2000 / XP / Vista
Processor: 1.7 GHz
Memory: 512 Mb
Graphics: DirectX compatible video card with 128MB video memory
Hard Drive: 1.5 Gb Free Space
Sound: DirectSound compatible sound card
The game should run the same as Alien Shooter 2. Zombie Shooter 2 seems to offer more performance options, but they can be disabled. The games will fun fluently on all modern computers.
Demos are available here:
Both games are reasonably short; I beat the campaign for Conscription in about 2-3 hours. Zombie Shooter 2 felt longer, though the game recorded a campaign as three hours or so. Most levels will take on average about 20-30 minutes, and Zombie Shooter 2 is only a few levels shorter than Alien Shooter 2. In any case, you can beat either game in an afternoon or an international flight. However, both games are newer than Alien Shooter 2, so they're not in the bargain bins yet. Zombie Shooter 2 is $10, which is 5x the cost of what I bought Alien Shooter 2 for, so in terms of value, neither of these games really deliver the same way Alien Shooter 2 did.
There is are a few bugs introduced in Zombie Shooter 2 (which I'm not sure exists in Conscription). The first major bug is this clipping that you'll see if your character has high running speed. You seem to run faster than the map can transition, leading to a sort of annoying sync problem. Think of it as playing a game with overly high frames per second with v-sync disabled. The next major bug in Zombie Shooter 2 is getting stuck in certain holes/areas and not being able to get out. You'll find that you get stuck more often in Zombie Shooter 2, and I had to restart the level maybe once per campaign, so it's no game-breaker but know that it's there.
I was able to fit this huge tank
Into this tiny room. And yes, I had to restart the level.
Between Alien Shooter 2: Conscription and Zombie Shooter 2, the latter is better. It offers a larger variety of new enemies, a few more items/gear, more visual effects, a large campaign and I feel better levels, though it does suffer from more bugs and that annoying weapon-switch thing. While both games will give you that same Alien Shooter 2 experience, I would say that Zombie Shooter 2 is more on par with Alien Shooter 2, and if you had to choose between the two, I would recommend Zombie Shooter 2. Right now, however, the price of the games are a bit high especially considering that for cheaper than the games' retail prices, you can probably get a big budget game, so the games don't get the same score as Alien Shooter 2, though I can say I'm quite sated with the game franchise now.
- Offer more guns, gear, etc. I want more options for attack drones damn it. The three games use the same characters, feats, and extras features. Give more.
- Let us reuse characters for new campaigns.
- Implement a weapon-switch system that makes sense. Stick with the Alien Shooter 2 format 1-5 format but offer an alternative weapon slot.
- Fix the bug issues in Zombie Shooter 2. The clipping issue is especially annoying.
- Multiplayer and use a new game engine. The Quake 4 engine's going to be open-source soon. Just a suggestion.
Here's another review fresh from Trapped Dead. This time, instead of killing zombies, I'll be killing aliens in Alien Shooter 2: Reloaded. Alien Shooter 2 is a third-person arcade shooter with RPG elements, in which you play as a merc who goes out and saves the world, and in the meantime kill about 20,000 aliens (that's how much I killed at least). Its top-down sprite style also reminds me of Fallout, which is definitely a good thing.
Alien Shooter 2 is a sprite based shooter in which you clear level over level of aliens in order to save the world. The game features a RPG in which you level up, place skill points, and purchase items and gear. Most importantly, you pretty much go ape$hit on thousands and thousands of aliens. I'm not joking. You literally paint entire streets red.
Literally. I'm serious.
The best way to describe the gameplay of Alien Shooter 2 would be Clusterfu-k.
I'm not sure what's going on either
The game's a top-down Serious Sam, but without the puzzles and with way more enemies, and the only tactical skill you'll need to know is press to shoot and strafe; even the reloading is automated. The story is so simplistic that it was probably thought up during a class session, and really only serves to carry the gameplay, which is fine because as simple as the gameplay is, its awesome. The game never has a dull moment has hordes of aliens always attack you at once, leaving you constantly strafing, gunning, and switching guns to stop from being trapped and gutted, but it never makes you feel completely vulnerable, so laying the smackdown on a horde is very rewarding...kind of what Alien Swarm should have been. The game also incorporates RPG elements like experience and leveling and a money system, but it's more robust than the one offered in Dead Space 2, allowing you to deck yourself out. And I'll be perfectly honest, this game lets you feel like a badass, even though you look absolutely stupid running with a pistol (go play the demo and see for yourself). The game is well paced, so that you can see very visible character development as your character moves from his pathetic leather armor to full out power armor (this must be a tribute to Fallout or something).
Understandably, some people would find the game repetitive. The overall structure of gameplay doesn't differ too much, as you'll consistently be running and gunning, so there's no real strategic depth. The enemies, I suppose, are varied, but they all ended up turning into tomato paste anyways, so most of the time I can't really notice a difference. And finally, most of the guns look the same. However, even though the game is predictable, I never found it to be repetitive; even after I beat the game, I was still itching for more. If you can stand the repetitiveness of Fallout 2 sprites, then you'll probably be fine with Alien Shooter 2.
The game also features a number of items and weapons at your disposal. You're given five slots for five types of weapons: pistol, shotgun, submachinegun/assault rifle, explosive weaponary, and finally energy weapons, which is a nice nod to Fallout. Weapon variety is abundant for each category. More importantly, switching from weapon to weapon is instantaneous, thus surprisingly gratifying. You can gun down enemies with an automatic shotgun, switch off to a gatling gun, and then finish off with a mini-nuke launcher. The only gripe I have with this, and I know that not everyone will mind, is that the game uses realistic guns, but has the stats all messed up. You'll have this awkward situation in which guns that use the same calibers having wildly different stats, like a 5.56x45 assault rifle being weaker than an AK, but then a different 5.56x45 rifle doing dramatically more damage than the AK. It's really a pet peeve, but it's something I'm throwing out anyways. In terms of items, you have your fair share of armor and med kits, and coolest of all is the opportunity to purchase a flying attack drone that follows you around (so...a familiar or companion basically). Another thing I should mention is that the way weapons and items are made available for you is very well paced, revealing a new level of item per level, so it really gives you an incentive to see what's new.
The game offers a wide assortment of weapons and armor allowing you to
Start off with this sexy flamethrower/sword thing
Then ground them down a gatling gun
Then top off with a nuke
In terms of level design, the game does a fairly good job. Levels are open enough and filled with hidden sections, encouraging players to explore the levels, but there are always arrows that will guide you towards your objective, so you're never really lost. The levels are also filled with little bonuses like quests, explosives (as that's all the tactical planning you'll need for this game), and those secret sections that encourage you to shoot walls. In addition, many levels give you the option to ride vehicles ranging from cop cars, military jeeps, sentry robots and howitzers. If getting on the vehicles are annoying (I can't see why though), you can run and gun on foot for epic lulz too, and the game won't overly penalize you for it. Even though the game can get repetitive sometimes, the game shakes things up by changing level themes from installations to cities to caverns, and the structure of the game changes also. Installations are more password/bs related, while city/traveling levels are more open.
Chinese driver coming through
I preferred the open ended exploration of the city levels
The game's system requirements are
OS: Windows 2000 / XP / Vista
Processor: 1.7 GHz
Memory: 512 MB
Graphics: nVidia GeForce2 / ATI Radeon 8500 or better video card with 64MB video memory
Hard Drive: 600 MB Free Space
Sound: DirectSound compatible sound card
Take a look at the screenshots, and you can probably guess that the system requirements are not particularly high, but it is beyond what a netbook is capable of. I didn't try it on my netbook, but I've heard that it can play netbooks. I suppose some of you with more powerful netbooks or a regular notebook will probably be fine. If not, lower the graphics a bit. It's not that much more impressive than Fallout, but there are a lot more sprites at once. Oh, and the decals never leave. So if you love blood, this game is full of it.
Oh, and I couldn't get the game to run in 16:9 resolutions, so I hope you like big black borders.
There is a demo available here, which will give you a pretty good idea of the gameplay of Alien Shooter 2 also: http://www.sigma-team.net/games/action/alien-shooter-2.html
As from what I've seen, the game's only bugs (I'm not making a pun about aliens here) are related to clipping issues. Sometimes you'll get stuck in between two objects, but I've always been able to escape after a few tries.
I purchased the game at Gamersgate on sale for $2, but the game will usually retail for $6 at GOG. How long does the game last? The game's about 15 levels or so, and actually can be finished in a long day, so it's actually quite short. The game also offers three survival modes.
The first is career mode, which is five levels. You basically survive against a horde of monsters in a small area, with each kill racking up experience and sometimes drops. The drops are pretty amusing, ranging from armor repairs, cars, reinforcements, nukes, etc, and I found this mode to be challenging and fun. In the end, you basically stomp around with miniguns and power armor. Word to the wise, specialize in two weapon categories.
Other survival modes include a much more traditional survival without level ups, which is kinda boring, and a gun survival:
Overall, however, they don't last long. I had a lot of fun with career survival, but it lasted only about an hour. The game, for some odd reason, features no multiplayer. Worse of all (and the game will be penalized for this), you can't reuse your character for continuing campaigns. In fact, if you start a new game, your old character WILL be erased. That's bull$hit.
There are no mods available either, which is pretty disappointing since it's an indie game. But then again, the game's only about $6 retail, and often on sale. If you've got a good notebook and a long plane ride, I suggest you dig in. For me, it was worth the $2 but I want more.
I didn't really think I'd enjoy such a simplistic game, but I honestly loved the experience. The pacing is well done, the @$-kicking factor is great, and the overall gameplay is ridiculously excellent. Plus, the game's cheap, and probably netbook capable. The only downsides are that the game looks like crap, the additional modes are severely limited, the game has terrible support for newer resolutions, and the inability to continue to use your own character is downright idiotic. Otherwise, try the demo, and if you like it, get this game.
- Support newer resolutions.
- More modes, or maybe throw in a cooperative multiplayer. I mean, why not? Every game now has multiplayer.
- Let me reuse my character. Or at the very least, don't make me delete my old character to play a new one. What's wrong with you?
- Editor, or at the very least make some sense out of the gun caliber and gun stats.
I'll be perfectly honest for my non-existent viewers; I've been lagging far behind on my reviews. Most of it just laziness on my part, but the games I've got backlogged are Mount and Blade, Heroes of Might and Magic 5, Quake Wars: Enemy Territory and finally this game, Trapped Dead. The last one is the smallest and most easily reviewed, but it's also quite an interesting premise. The game's a sort of real time tactical survival zombie game in which you control up to four unique characters to complete objectives in large levels. Considering that I criticized Left 4 Dead for being too fast paced, how does this survival zombie game compare?
Trapped Dead takes place in a very familiar setting for zombie aficionados; think Romero and "of the Dead" series. The release of Agent Zero, the first zombie, has resulted in a zombie outbreak in the city, with only a few survivors left. After reaching your bunker, you and your comrades will need to find a cure for the zombification of Raccoon city. I mean, generic American city.
The game is a top-down tactical game similar to Fallout Tactics in continuous real time mode. You can control up to four characters per level, and you're going to need to avoid, trick, or kill the hell out of the undead, all the while conserving ammo.
The game itself is told in a comic book fashion, and you progress somewhat linearly from level to level. The characters are overall pretty generic, but they do have distinct personalities. The story is paper thin, and just exists as an excuse to bring the player from level to level. After the completion of each level, you go back to your bunker to organize, choose party members for the next mission, and manage your inventories.
Is it possible, for a culture obsessed with zombies and zombie survival, to still not have a clue when this happens?
Surprisingly the sewers are remarkably safe
Don't be a tool in a horror film/game. Go in a group
How does the game play then? The game starts you off easily enough with just a bat and a pistol, and eventually adds team members to your roster, though some levels add team members and some don't, but you can only recruit up to six members, and bring only four members into a level at once. Each member has strengths and weaknesses, with some being skilled at healing, the others at aiming, and the others with melee whacking. Think of the game as Fallout Tactics always on permanent real-time, controlled by a real time strategy interface. Thus, you'll be micromanaging all four characters if you bring them all along. Thankfully, the game allows you to pause like in Baldur's Gate/NWN, so you can just stop the game if things get hairy to give orders. When attacking, the game uses a hack-and-slash game play method, with each press of the mouse an attack when carrying a weapon. Certain weapons, such as rifles, have cooldowns. The game drops ammo all over the place, but the later zombie levels will have hundreds of zombies, so conservation is key. In addition, items take up inventory space, so you'll need to plan ahead. The game also places explosive fire-extinguishers throughout the level (is this China?), so you can sometimes group zombies together for a group kill.
The game also has a stealth element to it. Zombies are attracted to loud noises and the scent of blood. Thus, if you use guns, you're going to attract a lot of zombies. If you walk, and whack zombies with a melee weapon, then you can pick them off one by one. The game also features the crossbow as the ranged stealth weapon. Players hurt will flash red, meaning they're bleeding, which will attract other zombies unless they patch themselves up. You're also able to toss blood packs, which work the same way as boomer bile in L4D; they attract zombies to the location, and will attack anything that was splashed. And because all zombies are Romero-slow zombies, they only move at walking pace. The characters with more stamina can easily outrun them, but their huge numbers means that you may run from one swarm into another. It's a nice strategic element to the game, but as shown below, it's severely underused.
The game mechanics are functional but flawed. Game characters don't have AI scripts, so they basically sit there when zombies come at them, so you'd have the case in which you're going to be exploring a room with the muscle of the group, only to realize that your handicapped douche doctor has been turned into dinner because he was too stupid to use his revolver. Why not have AI scripts, like avoid combat, use melee, attack with stealth weapons, etc? In addition, you'd have the most unusual AI script for teammates following you. When selecting group follow, one person is designated the leader, and everyone follows behind him/her. The only problem is that if you're making a 180 degree turn to run away from a zombie, then your teammates will actually run into the zombie your leader was running away from. Why? Well, basically to maintain the follow-the-leader trail. As mentioned above, the closer you are to a zombie, the more damage your bullets do, so you're going to be making a lot of close encounters to save ammo. However, considering how eager your teammates are to maintain the conga, you're going to be pretty boned. Moreover, because in the later levels you're going to be fighting lots of zombies in groups at once, "stealth" doesn't really work real well, so the use of melee weapons is kind of suicidal. The game requires excessive micromanagement. For example, after your gun's out of bullets, you need to manually reload. And lastly, there's a problem with squad selection. Even though you're controlling four members at max, and that there's a pause button, your squad is difficult to control because you can't group your characters, and they have no AI. Thus, because of the interface, you'll find that you're selecting the wrong leaders for a group, of bringing your entire group to one area when you only intended to bring one person.
Darwin was wrong. Even the dumbest can survive.
The last complain I have is the level and weapon variety and design. The game gives you one pistol, one revolver, one sawed-off shotgun, one rifle, a crossbow, chainsaw, bat, katana, and grenade. It's a satisfactory amount for a zombie survival sim, but it really is lacking. It's more than Left 4 Dead, but less than Left 4 Dead 2. How about a regular shotgun? Considering that sawed-off shotguns are illegal, you can't really count that as realistic. Levels are varied enough, such as military installations, prisons, shopping districts, and sports grounds, but it feels repetitive. Why? Well, first the backgrounds are still mainly dark, and secondly, the structure of the levels isn't particularly different. The later levels are basically the same level; you go through one section, kill/avoid twenty zombies, then go a next one. Levels should vary in how you need to approach them. Have levels that use very narrow corridors, have some levels that allow you to go stealthy, have some levels that require you to run, etc. In addition, the levels are way too long. Although there are save points, the long levels tend to drag the game on without adding additional content. Lastly, each level also has special triggers that will allow you to environment-kill zombies, but they're so far in between that they're more gimmicks than gameplay mechanics.
A military base infested with about a thousand zombies, just like the 7 levels before it
I cheated. You'll never have this much ammo on hand.
There are only about three zombie varieties: mobs, tougher mobs, and mini-boss butchers. The last level has a final boss. Some people may find zombie variety disappointing, but I didn't mind because I wanted to play a game with regular zombies, not zombies that would paralyze me with their tongues. All zombies are also the slower Romero zombies. Some people find this boring, but I prefer the classic Romero zombies. It's not much of a survival game if zombies outrun you. The game does become rather repetitive after killing your 1000th zombie, and unfortunately, you don't get anything like experience for it.
The game's system requirements are:
Windows XP (SP3), Vista, Windows 7
DirectX Compatible graphics card with shader 3.0 support
2 GHz CPU
1 GB Ram
HHD Space 2 GB
The game's overall system requirements aren't too difficult, and the game ran fine at 60 fps max settings on my computer. Although the game is viewed from an overhead position, some of the characters are surprisingly detailed. There's no demo available.
Whatcha' lookin' at through your scope Billy Ray?
The game's available at Gamersgate and Amazon for $20 retail, but I know that Gamersgate puts the game on sale for about $10. For the price, you can do better, but there aren't too many games like Trapped Dead available. The game's very short, and I finished it in one long afternoon. There's multiplayer to extend the life of the game, but I wasn't able to find online games. Playing coop, with one person controlling each character, will probably work better as you'll have to micromanage less. I'd wait until the price of the game drops though. There are no mods, and no noticeable bugs in the game.
Trapped Dead is one of those games that look awesome on paper but fall short when actually playing the game. While the game is functional and has a good theme and premise, the needless micromanagement and general repetitiveness of the game drops the game down several points. Playing multiplayer will probably bring the experience up as that eliminate part of the micromanaging, but the structure of the levels themselves need to be change. Overall, I recommend this game if you're hankering to play a Romero game. Otherwise, there are probably more entertaining options out there.
- The game requires AI scripts. How about: auto-attack when enemies are near, run away when enemies are near, heal me if I'm hurt, use ranged then melee, etc. You know, stuff we've had since Baldur's Gate and that most RTS games already have? Auto-reload should be enabled by default.
- Structure the level for variety. If you're going to make it big, vary it so that we have opportunities to use stealth, go out guns blazing, or trick enemies into traps. Just don't make it one huge linear run and gun fest.
- Custom characters. Why not? Everyone wants to imagine themselves in a zombie world.
- Vehicles. Seriously.
- Increase the amount of weapons available. There's really no excuse not to. Don't tell me the real world only has about a handful of weapons available.
- The interface could use a bit of work. Switching between weapons is really unintuitive, and I should be allowed to assign groups.
While I agree with most people that George Lucas produced pretty crappy prequels to his Star Wars trilogy, I always thought that the Star Wars extended universe carried a lot of potential. Knights of the Old Republic 1/2 were great RPGs, some of the best I've played, and I enjoyed Republic Commando, Empire at War, and the Battlefront series. Although Lucas Arts was already getting flak for the production of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, I was pretty ambivalent about it. Lo and behold, I picked up a Steam copy of the Ultimate Sith Edition (the default PC version) which includes the original on sale.
SW:TFU is an action-platformer developed by Lucas Arts. The game takes place between Star Wars: Episode 3 and Episode 4, and introduces the founder of the Rebel Alliance and Sith apprentice Starkiller. The "Force Unleashed" part of the game is that you play as a force prodigy, so you get to take down star destroyers, fry people to death with lightning, and cut up wookies with a lighsaber. The game features interactive (somewhat destructible environments) and the entertainment of throwing weaklings down lava pits.
Before I even talk about the core gameplay, I'm going to rant about how crappy a port SW:TFU is. Before the game begins, I tried to customize video settings. The only video settings available are A)Change the Resolution B)Change the Brightness C) Select High Detail or deselect it. That's all the video options you have. I have never complained of a game being too much of a port until now. And when still in the game launcher (and to my disbelief), the game wouldn't detect my 3rd party controller. Keep in mind that this is the only game I've ever played that has failed to detect my controller, and I've played Lara Croft:Guardian of Light, Toy Story 3, Obscure 1/2, Lego Star Wars/Batman/Indiana Jones, House of the Dead 2/3, and probably a few others I can't think of. Considering that this is a port game, the game's more optimized for playing with a controller than with a keyboard/mouse, but I stuck with the latter, which is kinda awkward. Now imagine a game that requires you to use combos, and then having to use a keyboard/mouse to do such combos; it's like playing a real time strategy game with a controller. That is my frustration with playing this game.
Even the menu interface is retarded. I can't use the mouse on the main menu; I have to use the directional buttons. Even inputting cheat codes requires that you scroll from alphabet to alphabet like an old Sega game.
Maybe THISISACRAPPYPORT should be a cheat code
The game engine is also a royal mess. Pausing the game to access basic menu functions like options requires loading. Changing your character outfit requires that you restart from the last save point and wait an unbearably long time. Sometimes cutscenes are skippable, sometimes they're not for some reason. When playing the game on my native resolution and high detail, the game's sometimes laggy and sluggish, but there's not much I can do about it because ALL I CAN DO IS CHECK/DESELECT "HIGH DETAIL". Are you fu-king kidding me? Playing the first level with Darth Vadar was a laggy nightmare, as you can forget about complex combos with a keyboard/mouse. Worse yet, many times the game's auto-targeting gets its priorities out of whack. You can be picking up a fallen tree with the force with the intention of flinging it onto enemies, and the game would interpret it as throwing up straight up at God. Why would you want to throw a tree at God? Why George Lucas, why?
As you can probably guess, I got into the game with a pretty negative impression. However, that impression started to change after I played more and more. Gameplay wise, the game does an excellent job. Starkiller looks kinda bland, but you can change his costume, which makes him look cooler. The RPG level up system works adequately enough (FEAR, you should do this) and the game's FORCE UNLEASHED aspect is terrific for all aspiring virgin padawans out there. Everything you do pretty much reeks of style. Double jumping into the air and then force dashing across platforms is cool, jumping into the air and shocking clone troopers below you, finishing a combo with an overhand lightsaber strike which creates a field of lightning is cool, force pushing the windows out of a starship (which results in a vacuum dragging enemies out) is cool, throwing enemies into incinerating laser fields is cool, and electrifying a guy and then tossing him at his buddies as a lightning grenade is cool.
Lightning Grenade. For some reason the enemies explode.
Although the first few levels were kinda drab, the game definitely starts to pick up. As you gain a better understanding of how the game mechanics work (especially the auto-targeting), then everything kinda falls into place cinematically. Enemy variety is fair, and sometimes the game contains more than two factions at once, so sometimes you'll see enemies fighting each other.
Frying a junk metal force elemental=awesome
The levels are also surprisingly interactive and destructible. Though it's probably no Red Faction, you have a lot of freedom in using items as weapons. You can make piles of rubble collapse on your enemies, and the levels feature tons of hazards allowing you to push people onto their dooms. So basically, you do have a lot of freedom on dispatching your enemies, which is definitely a plus in my book.
The one gripe I have about the gameplay aside from its auto-aim priority problem is game balancing. While Starkiller's force power is pretty potent, his lightsaber might as well be a giant croissant, because it'll take you a combo or two to destroy some of the common enemies in the game. The game forces you to use your pee-shooter sometimes because many of the enemies have a force-resistant barrier (what?). Even some of the more mundane stormtroopers have this magical piece of technology, forcing you to go up close and hit them with your laser croissant, and imperial guards can even block force lightning while you seem to have difficulty blocking theirs. The other jedi that you fight are also tougher than you by a long shot, so accusations that Starkiller is overpowered are pretty meh. A few other gripes I had were with Starkiller's force dash, which seems woefully underpowered considering how Jedis are known for running great distances, wheras Starkiller can only dash about two meters before his heart goes out. In addition, there is no cooldown period to allow your character to get up, so when fighting crowds, don't be surprised to be knocked down by a rocket, then when you're still down to be knocked around by a few more rockets. A SDK would have fixed the balancing issues, but there's no way in hell that's going to be coming out for the Port Posterboy.
He might as well be wielding this:
The game also features quick-time events. Usually I'd be griping about it, but SW:TFU is very forgiving with them the same way FEAR 2 sort of is. The quick-time events don't require lightning fast reflexes. In fact, you can usually take your time with them, and if you mess up in the middle of one, you don't start all the way over. The events are usually pretty nice to watch, they're easy to do, and they fit/integrate well with most battles.
"STILL A CRAPPY PORT!"
Level design wise, the game starts off promising, as you'll go from many different locations and different terrain, especially if you include the bonus levels. Later in the game however, you inexplicably play through two of the same levels you already played through. The levels are the same in terrain and environments, but the design is radically different so I'll give SW:TFU that. In any case, I like how the levels are mostly interactive, encourage exploration, don't reuse things too much, and do offer different platforming/puzzle challenges. The levels don't feel repetitive, but the game's only several chapters, so you can finish it within a day if you're dedicated enough.
This Jedi temple level was one of the bonus levels included with the Ultimate Sith Edition
The only gripe I had was with one level, which was suppose to be the highlight of Starkiller's career, was when he was suppose to use the force to bring down a star destroyer (a several km long spaceship). This was a highly talked about controversy because it seems to make every other Star Wars character look like a pansy compared to Starkiller. If you pay attention to the Clone Wars animated short, you'll see Mace Windu and Yoda pretty much tossing around huge capital ships with far less effort than it takes for Star Killer to take down the SS. In any case, you're supposed to enter into a long quicktime event at the while dodging tie-fighter fire, so after moving the ship some distance, you'll have to break out and kill tie-fighters, and when you're killing these annoying drones, the SS will move back into position, creating the most annoying and frustrating boss fight in the game and can easily bring the score of SW:TFU down a notch. The game's also BUGGED, giving you the wrong button to press for the quicktime event. I made at least 5-6 attempts, until finally putting on a trainer just so that I can get that level over with. What was suppose to be the game's highlight ended up being the worse experience playing SW:TFU.
Although the length of the original campaign is pretty short, the game offers a slew of unlockables. Beating the main campaign opens up a few chapters you can play as Starkiller reincarnated as Palpatine's apprentice (the non-canon ending), which includes objectives like hunting Luke Skywalker and crushing a few rebel bases. In addition, each level provides three mini-objectives, one of which includes collecting holocrons. Completing the objectives gives you experience, which you can use to unlock/upgrade force powers, combos, or stat upgrades. Collecting holocrons can unlock lightsaber crystals for customization (change color or special ability) and you can unlock a whole assload of costumes (at least 20). Although your voice/powers don't change (would have been great to use guns), you can play as anyone from Darth Maul to Obi-Wan to Jango Fett to a Clone Commando, which is oodles of fun especially considering how ugly/bland Starkiller can be.
Move aside ugly
Keep in mind that your abilities/voices do not change
Can you still be intimidating when wearing a skirt?
Yeah, that's a clone commando readying a kamehameha wave. Awesome.
In terms of story (spoiler alert...sort of), SW:TFU pretty much flops. Starkiller and his love interest are believable as characters, but their relationship up until the last level seems more platonic/professional than romantic, with pretty much no flirting going on between them and then BAM-kissing. It's as if you started developing a relationship with the person you struck a conversation with waiting to see a movie. And the story itself is balls-to-the-wall HUH?! Vader raises a force prodigy with the intention of rooting out enemies of the empire...the same enemies that never existed until Starkiller was assigned to rally and organize them to draw them out. So you have no enemies, so you piss people off until you have them, and then you kill them because you intentionally made them your enemies. The Sith must be the most stupid people in the extended universe. In any case, the story's really secondary and unnecessary, though the cutscenes are only skippable half the time for some porty reason.
The game's system requirements for the PC are noted here:
OS: Win XP SP3, Windows Vista SP2 or Windows 7
Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4 GHz or AMD Athlon X2 5200+
Memory: 2 GB
Graphics: 3D Hardware Accelerator Card Required - 100% DirectX 9.0c compatible 256 MB Video Memory with Shader 2.0 support (Radeon HD 2900 or Geforce 8600)
DirectX®: Directx 9.0c compatible
Hard Drive: 30GB
Sound: Directx 9.0c compatible
Controller Support: XBox 360 Controller for Windows
Supported ATI Chipsets: ATI Radeon HD 2600, 2900, 3650, 3690, 3850, 3870, 4550, 4650, 4770, 4850, 4870, 5890
Supported NVIDIA Chipsets: NVIDIA GeForce 8600, 8800, 9400, 9500, 9600, 9800, 250, 260, 275, 280, 285, 295
Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo 2.8 GHz or AMD Athlon X2 Dual-Core 6000+
Graphics: 512 MB 3D Hardware Accelerator Card (GeForce 9800 GT)
I recommend meeting or exceeding the recommended system requirements. When playing the game with my current notebook when it had 2 GB of memory, the game would noticeably lag, though it's not as noticeable with 4 gb. Playing the first level as Darth Vadar was especially frustrating as there was a heavy use of shaders. The game clearly isn't optimized for the PC. Usually, even for ports, I would play with the settings, usually disabling or lowering shadows when this happens, but the only real options you have for changing the performance of the game is changing the resolution and enabling/disabling High Detail, so you're stuck with what you've got. The game would automatically lock at 30 FPS max, and no, there's no demo available so make sure you can play the game before you buy it.
The game's most game-stopping bug is the boss battle with the star destroyer, the most @$-ramming and annoying level in the entire game (frustratingly so). Other things that I wouldn't call bugs but should be fixed I've already mentioned above: the lack of mouse support for the menu/keyboard support for codes, the lack of support for 3rd party controllers, and wonky auto-targeting. SW:TFU 2 has already been released, so don't expect too many updates for the first game.
Because game developers stop supporting a game after its sequel comes out. Now shut up and put your gold bikini on.
This game's a total port, so no, there's no SDK available, which is a shame because although the gameplay balance is mainly satisfactory, there's a ton of balancing issues I'd like to resolve.
The game costs about $12 at Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/Star-Wars-Force-Unle...5152&sr=8-1 but typically retails for $30 (yikes). The sequel was recently released, so I expect the price to drop to under $10 while I'd say is more worth its value. It's more fun than Dead Space, but it's also more frustrating. If you can play a demo before getting it, I'd give it a whirl before you jump into the game.
I got into the game absolutely hating it. However, when I reached the later levels and replayed the game again with my 4 GB of ram and with a better understanding of the game mechanics, I found the game to be a much more satisfying and entertaining experience. The gameplay, with the exception with a few balancing issues and the $hitty boss battle with the star destroyer, is very satisfying and very fun. However, the game suffers from a supreme lack of polish, and the game is such a terrible port I'm surprised they bothered to release it on PC. That's really the main problem wrong with the game. Hopefully the sequel will be better (but I already know the story is stupid as $hit). I wouldn't mind seeing a game with this gameplay but for a RPG that allows you to make your own characters (TFU + KOTOR), because the gameplay really does work well. I'd probably give it a 9 if my controller worked with the game, and maybe a 10 if I could have gotten it as a decent port with a SDK because the overall gameplay really is that good, and how many games really let you do this?
Under that giant bronze globe that I've electrified is a pants-wetting storm-trooper, and yes, I dropped it on his head.
- First off, make this game a better port. Support controllers, give more graphics options, let me use the mouse on the menu and keyboard for cheats, let me skip your crappy story, and stop with all the insane loading
- This may or may not be port related, but fix the auto-targeting. If I'm lifting something heavy, chances are good that I want to throw it at enemies and not at the ugly stain on the wall
- Why are so many enemies in the game force resistant and why is the lightsaber so weak? It's a legendary weapon, make it legendary. Or give me a SDK so that I can change that.
- Better story, but I doubt this is going to happen. Hell, just make cutscenes skippable and that'd be great.
- To be honest, this game could get a 10 if you kept the core gameplay, and maybe made it more RPGish with character selections and different backstories instead of just focusing on Starkiller. Just saying.
Just as a head's up, I use an Acer 4820tg notebook computer, which includes an Intel Core i5-430m, 4 GB DDR3 1066 memory (I recently upgraded), and an ATI 5650 1 GB DDR3 videocard. This doesn't really tell you much though. Although 3D Mark Vantage scores are flawed, I'm going to list them here for reference.
The videocard on stock clocks of 550/800 gets me: P3589 in 3D Mark Vantage
When overclocked to 700/900, I get : P4426 in 3D Mark Vantage
The videocard overclocked seems more or less stable
All right, no more low budget indie/casual games. It's time for Big Budget games with Big Budget graphics and action, and what better way to do so than with FEAR 2? I actually completed FEAR 2 before playing Eufloria, and played it again after I reviewed Eufloria. If you don't know what FEAR 2 is about, it's the FPS/Horror sequel to the first FEAR (which I reviewed earlier). Does it live up to or surpass the original? Yes, but the details are provided below.
FEAR 2 is a first person horror game that takes place shortly before the end of the original FEAR game. You play as Sergeant Beckett, a Delta Force soldier who is sent to retrieve an old crazy b!tch from her apartment. Just before you retrieve her, you're knocked out and things pretty much go bat$hit crazy. An evil ghost awakens, sends ghosts and clone soldiers after you, and an evil corporation kills everyone even remotely affiliated with the project. So think of it as Marxism mixed with Ju-on mixed with Star Wars Clone Wars and you get FEAR 2.
FEAR 2 relies on primarily two elements: first person shooter slow-mo action, and Japanese horror (ie, scary long haired Japanese girls). Both elements are included from the first FEAR, Doom 3, and Deadspace, so veterans of FEAR will fit in pretty comfortably with this setup.
FEAR 2's gameplay as mentioned above is mainly first person shooter. It follows the standard FPS formula: you take cover, shoot, reload, and after the fighting's over you scavenge for items. In this case, FEAR 2's FPS system is pretty standard and well done (I like that you can cook grenades). The best thing about the gameplay is of course the slo-mo feature of the game,which looks even better than in the first FEAR, with enemies being highlighted and explosions and bullet ripples looking very sweet, and it's good to know that you can beat most fights without ever relying on it. The screenshots below don't really do the game justice.
In addition to the base game, the game also lets you ride on mechs and IFVs in a few levels and the DLC. Riding on the mech is fun and the minigame is well done, but it is a bit easy. Fortunately, riding the mech is more or less optional, and if you want you can ditch it all together and just go ape$hit on foot.
Pew Pew Pew
Pew Pew Pew
Gameplay is also strongly affected by level design. The original FEAR had more open ended levels, that allowed you to sneak around and place traps before engaging enemies. This is possible because enemies in these games will not immediately see you, and until then you can sneak around and melee an opponent for a silent kill. Unlike the first FEAR, however, FEAR 2's combat is more linear like COD, which restricts manuverability for cover shooting. There's also a lot more scripted events than in FEAR, which reduces flexibility for more immediate action. There's nothing wrong with this formula in my opinion; it works in COD, it certainly works in FEAR 2. However, the game's schizophrenic because the game obviously wants you to explore the levels; the game is littered with hidden powerups, medkits/armor, and data you can collect. The detailed environment encourages players to explore (which is also good), but the disconnect between open ended exploration and linear combat is odd, and it probably would have been better if Monolith stuck to one design. If the developers wanted it to be more open ended, that's great, but why not include an experience system (Bioshock)/limited economy (Deadspace), or make maps that allow you to engage enemies seperately like Fallout 3 or Ridd!ck: Dark Athena? FEAR 2's strange because it gives you tactical landmines, but the action sequences are too linear and fast paced for you to really use them. Your melee silent-kill attack doesn't even one-hit KO enemies anymore (not that you can even get close enough to really hit someone).
THIS is your reward for exploring haunted schools?
The horror aspect of the game is also greatly improved from the first FEAR. In the first FEAR, you're forced to undergo elements of horror sequences, but they're really just breaks from the gameplay. Once they occur, you just sit back and watch the fireworks. Now however, the game introduces spectres to the game, ghostly enemies that can do damage to you and can teleport. Because they're so difficult to discern and predict, they give the players a greater sense of vulnerability.
Otherwise, the game's use of horror is similar to the first FEAR/Doom 3/Dead Space, relying on lots of flashbacks, blood, and distortion. It's done quite well, and gave me the creeps when I was playing with the lights out, but I doubt it's as pants-wetting as Amnesia.
Jesus there's a lot of blood
But where does it all come from?
Ohhh, that time of the month eh?
Environment wise, the game's a definite improvement over the first FEAR. Wheras the first one took place in an office/factory, which made it repetitive, FEAR 2 takes place in far more environments. The environments range from hospitals, schools, apocalyptic streets and subways. Although the settings are always dark, it's good to see that the designers listened to complaints about level design and actually varied level design. The levels look good and are well detailed and can mostly be interacted with. Also, because you're fighting against multiple factions this time, there is a noticeably difference among enemy designs. Replica soldiers use assault rifles, but mercenaries use SMGs and are easier to kill, so it feels like there's more distinction among enemies. The designers implemented a new cover system in which you can slide or push desks and heavy objects into a position that will give you cover. The problem is that it's slow, arbitrary, and actually unnecessary. It takes about a good second to toss a desk in the right way, leaving you exposed to fire. Enemies doing that will make easy kills for you. In addition, you have to be in a certain position to interact with the cover, so you can't push it off from the side, but it has to be from the center. And lastly, you really don't need it, as there's always plenty of cover available. The developers need to make interacting with cover easier.
Chinese Women Drivers
Lastly, and these are pretty minor, there should be a SDK released so that players can change a few values in the game. The game's schizophrenic again in that it doesn't know if it wants its guns to be realistic or balanced. For example, a shotgun is ridiculously underpowered against armored opponents (realistic) but the combat shotgun does 25% more damage than the semi-auto even though they're both probably the same round. The same applies to the pistol and SMG also. The flamethrower is ridiculously underpowered also. A SDK will give players the ability to mod the weapons so that the damage values are applied more evenly.
The game's minimum and recommended system requirements are:
Operating System: Windows® XP SP2/Vista SP1
Processor: P4 2.8GHz (3.2GHz Vista)/Athlon® 64 3000+ (3200+ Vista)
Memory: 1GB (1.5GB Vista)
Hard Disk Space: 12GB Available Hard Disk Space
Video Card: Fully DX9-compliant graphics card with 256MB (SM 2.0b). NVIDIA 6800 or ATI X700
DirectX® Version: 9.0c
Sound: DX9.0c compliant
Internet Connection: Broadband
Operating System: Windows® XP SP3/Vista SP1
Processor: Core 2 Duo 2.2GHz processor family/Athlon 64 X2 4400+ (required for MP host)
Hard Disk Space: 12GB Available Hard Disk Space
Video Card: Fully DX9-compliant graphics card with 512MB (SM 3.0). NVidia® 8600 GTS or ATI® HD 2900 XT
DirectX® Version: 9.0c
Sound: DX9.0c compliant
Internet Connection: Broadband (768kbit/sec upstream required to host 16 players)
The game pretty much ran like butter on my dedicated videocard, with FRAPS reporting 45-60 fps on average, and the graphics are not too shabby. However, there is a lot of sudden slowdowns due to the game's autosaving. Although it's noticeable, it didn't annoy me. As usual, I recommend you try the demo of FEAR 2 before purchasing it. http://www.gamershell.com/download_38288.shtml
By now, the game has been patched all the way, and as expected there aren't too many gamebreaking or noticeable bugs. However, FEAR 2 lacks a SDK, so don't expect any mods for the game to be released. This is unfortunate because custom content could remedy a few of the problems I listed above, mainly weapon balancing and level design to allow for more tactical stealth based gameplay. As of right now, there's only one DLC available, which adds in a couple of pretty good levels to the game. There is a multiplayer mode though. I purchased FEAR 2 with the DLC from Steam for only about $7.49, which is a pretty good steal considering I enjoyed it more than the first FEAR. Otherwise, the game's about $14.50 on Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/Fear-2-Project-Origi...0767&sr=8-3
I know FEAR 2 got lower scores elsewhere because it doesn't really break any new barriers, but as it stands it's a great game. The game lacks a lot of the tactical level design and flexibility from the first FEAR, but has improved the combat, the horror, and the overall level design of the game (less repetition), and it's pretty polished all around. The demo gives a pretty good taste of what the gameplay's all about, so give that a try before you buy.
- The game does horror and action well, but how about including more tactical gameplay? Mix the levels a bit to allow for stealth combat (or ditch exploring all together like COD does), or include a limited experience system like in Bioshock or Dead Space
- Include a SDK so that I can change the weapon damages, or at the very least, change it so that guns are either realistic or balanced.
- This is pretty minor, but you might as well make Use and the Melee button the same, since both are used to little. I mean come on, you can "use" a door and "kick a door", and when you "use" cover you actually kick it sometimes.
Fresh from the review of The Path, I'mgoing to review another somewhat artsy indie game called Eufloria. Unlike The Path, however, Eufloria doesn't sacrifice (as much) gameplay for art.
From the Steam website:
The game allows the player to explore a beautifully realized universe rendered in a style that is both unique and compelling. Eufloria's aesthetics are reminiscent of children's books like "the little prince" and the gameplay is supported by an original ambient soundtrack by Brian Grainger.
Gameplay revolves around conquering asteroids in space and using their resources to literally grow and nurture new semi-organic plants and creatures to do the player's bidding.
The player is pitched again several teams of AI opponents that all vie for the same resources and can offer fierce opposition.
In short, it's a minimalist real time strategy game in which you send sperm seeds to impregnate planets, which will then create more sperm seeds to impregnate other planets until you win the game. And the sperm seeds fight.
Gameplay in Eufloria starts you offsimple enough. The game starts you off with a few seeds and usually aplanet. From there, you plant dyson trees by sacrificing seeds, with each planet usually able to support up to 4 trees (there are defensive trees also). Strangely, if your planet is occupied by 40 seeds already, then it'll stop producing seeds, so you'll need to move your sperm seeds off to another planet to produce more.
*wink wink nudge nudge thrust thrust*
The main objective through the game is to more or less colonize all other planets like this. Combat is simplified in that your seeds will automatically engage enemy seeds, and like a Civilization game, the winner is determined by numbers and other factors like energy and strength that I really didn't quite understand. All the while, the game is set in a pretty stylistic and minimalist fashion, and you can watch as your sperm colonizes egg planets and watch as your trees grow and mature (at least I think that's the analogy). But realistically, you're going to be zoomed out managing your colonies, so the game just looks like the screenshot below:
Minimalist is just another word for low budget...or lazy
Eufloria's hit or miss gameplay depends on how the player approaches the game. After your seedsbecome trees (either offensive or defensive), you start to play the waiting game. Your trees start off small and take time to reach full maturity; but while seeds can be produced before maturity, they produce at a pretty slow rate. And because Eufloria is a game that emphasizes zerg rushing, you're going to want a lot of seeds thatproduce at a pretty slow rate. If you play RTS games, you'll know this is the slow, boring waiting process to produce that super-awesome unit. For gamers expecting adrenaline, this game is definitely not for you, as you will be staring at the screen waiting for paint to dry as you ready your troops, unless you for some reasonenjoy watching trees grow. For players who approach the game more lightly, this pace is probably more for you. If you're doing something else, ie, taking a dump, doing homework, or watching TV,this is the game for you, as it doesn't demand constant attention. If you alt-tab the game, the game will still keep running, allowing you to do other stuff.
Wait for it...
Wait for it...
Another element of possible frustrationis the AI in Eufloria. I've read in a review that in Eufloria, the enemies don't attack. That's simply not the case. There are two modes in Eufloria, original and dynamic, and in both modes the enemy will attack your planets. The frustration is not in their aggressiveness, but on their unpredictability. If you attack an enemy planet, will they reinforce that planet? Will they surrender it? Will they attack a different planet of yours? This probably would have been moderated by a quicksave button, but that's leftout of the game. And, ironically, this really kills the zen-like nature of the game by giving you a heavy dose of anxiety. In one level, for example, I was told of an incoming invasion at the beginning, so I had to flee; but when I did, the enemy still found me and annihilated my forces. I had to play the same level a number of times, and when I did win, it's because the enemy AI was merciful and decided not to zerg rush me for some reason, or you had to follow some path the developer came up with or be wiped out. Apparently getting zerg rushed over and over again is mentally therapeutic? Did I mention that the alt-tab thing doesn't work when the enemy suddenly decides to stop pussying around and zerg rushes your base?
$hit! fu-k! c_nt KNOCKER! @$! *slams keyboard and headbutts monitor*
And finally, the last area of complaint is the control and management of your troops. Eufloria is designed to be simplistic and easy to control, and it shows; you can only tell your troops to seed or move, and you can only move them when they're on a planet. Problems arise when combined with the above mentioned unpredictable AI. I've had troops invade a neighboring planet, and the AI responded by invading the planet from which my seeds launched. I actually had to wait for ALL of my troops to finish landing to recall my troops back to defend my planet. I've encountered numerous times in which I've sent troops to defend against an attacker, only for the attacker to attack a different planet while my troops moved right past them, and then shake my fists at the heavens. We've been able to get troops to cancel movement orders since before Warcraft, so this isn't exactly a breakthrough idea here. In addition, troops don't have the same attack ability, which is needlessly divided between strength and energy (not sure what the difference is). So some troops are born stronger than others, but there's no real way to differentiate them when you eventually mix them together, either to overcome the 40 troop count limit or because you need to gather your troops on the same planet to launch at an enemy. The result is a clusterfu-k of what-the-hell-is-this motley group of strong sperm and weak sperm. In one of the most lawl battles I've had, I've sent over 500 weak sperm seeds to their death against a hundred aryan ones. Outstanding.
The game's system requirements are:
Operating System: Microsoft® Windows® XP SP2; Windows Vista
Graphics: Currently not compatible with Intel's onboard integrated mobile graphics chipsets.
Processor: 1 GHz
Memory: 512 MB RAM
Hard Disk Space: 50 MB
The game will obviously run well on most modern desktops and notebooks, but I had trouble setting the resolution on my netbook. There's a demo available on steam for the game, so try that before you purchase the game for systems that only support unconventional resolutions.
I didn't notice any particular bugs, unless that 40 sperm seed unit cap counts. The game has a robust 25 level single player campaign, with a number of additional modes, multiplayer, and map editor, so there's plenty of replay value. It usually cost about $15, which is pretty steep for a game where the maps just randomize white balls and the troops are all one colored. I, however, got this in a bundle, so I pretty much got it for $1, which is noteworthy considering that I spent about a week (a kind of lackluster one) at the game. Unless you get your rocks off watching sperm seeds zerg rush eggs, I'd wait for the game to be on sale.
Eufloria is an all right game, but its oversimplicity really does hurt the game. The above negative points I mention really make the game feel either repetitive, overly simple, or frustrating, but it is rewarding at times when you finally amass your massive army and skeet all over the enemy forces. Overall, it's a pretty satisfactory game; you can do better, but you can do worse. Try the demo to see if you like it, and maybe pick it up when it's on sale or when you want a relaxing zen-like zerg-rushing experience.
- The game should use a quicksave/quickload button, especially considering the erratic behavior of the AI
- How about a way to better control your forces? A stop button, or a way to organize your forces better could go a long way
Before Indie games started to really enter into the marketplace, casual games were gaining a lot of momentum (and before casual games, MMORPGs), especially the ones done by Popcap games (Plants vs Zombies). Casual games came in with fullforce with the incredibly popular Bejeweled and Peggle series ofgames, and they've captured the niche of bored officeworker/mom who barely know how to use a PC. They're filled with pretty lights and sound, ridiculously accessible gameplay, and very lax system requirements, so it's natural for these games to start turning profits quickly (not to mention the ease of game development).
These games don't necessarily encroach on mainstream gaming territory however. Hardcore Call of Duty 4/5 veterans aren't going to be as excited by the pretty lights of Bejeweled anymore as a 40 year old mom has an interest in messing around with Crysis and installing Direct X runtime environment, so you can see the two can sit comfortably together with encroaching on each others' territories. Enter Peggle Extreme, a free game (though more like demo) of Peggle that tries to lure the hardcore Steam gamer to enjoy the same addictiveness of Peggle that bored office workers can.
For those unfamiliar with Peggle,Peggle is a pinball type game in which you need to use ten balls toeliminate all the orange tiles in a pinball like fashion, all thewhile picking up powerups and using ricochets to get high scores. Peggle Extreme is a free Valve themed Peggle game exclusive to Steam,though the game's only about 10 levels or so, so it's some sort of glorified demo that uses Valve themes to lure hardcore players toplay a game they'd only think about playing if behind a deskjob.
The game of Peggle is simple. You get 10 balls, and you need to use those ten balls to touch all the orange tiles for the level to end. Other tiles, such as the purple tile,grant you bonus points, while the green tiles give you a powerup (in Peggle Extreme, it's just that it allows you to see where a ball ricochets after the first impact). You control where you shoot the ball from the top of the screen, and then after that you leave it tothe bounce gods to figure everything out and hope that you don't waste your balls on a bad throw. The tiles your balls touch will disappear allowing you to get a better path of other tiles you need to hit. If your balls manage to land in a moving vacuum, you get the ball back to use again. Also, if you score enough points, you get a free ball. Get all 10 orange tiles and you win, simple as that. On the more advanced levels, the levels become more complicated. In the latter half of the game for example, you play Portal themed levels,which means that there are portals here and there, and you'll have to strategically maneuver your balls so to avoid or take advantage of the portals.
Step 1: Shoot the ball
Step 2: Win
Step 3: Enjoy the pretty lights
The Valve themes are well done and nostalgic for Orange Box veterans. You'll play from Headcrabs,engineer turrets, companion cubes, etc, but only the Portal themed ones actually have any real gameplay change to them.
A total of 10 surprisingly well done and well themed levels
Overall, save for the Valve themes, Peggle Extreme just reminds me of a mod of pinball. So, halfway through the review I loaded up Windows' own 3D pinball and played agame. Peggle Extreme is better. However, like regular pinball,there's always a feeling that the game relies much more on chance than on skill. Get a green powerup and you can see where the ball will ricochet after two bounces, but after that you're going to rely a lot on eyeballing and luck, especially if you want your ball to drop into the vacuum receiver. I'm sure some of the more hardcore moms out there have drilled Peggle down to a science, but I beat the game with chance, luck, and a shrug of the shoulders.
Spy sappin' mah sentry!
Minimum Requirements: Windows 2000/XP/Vista, 256 MB RAM, 700MHz or faster, DirectX: 7.0
Naturally, the game ran smooth as butter on my integrated graphics. And to be honest, I don't think it'd cause much trouble for IGP systems (I'm pretty sure it was targeted at that audience). There isn't much you can really play with on the settings, and the game didn't support my notebook's native 16: 9 resolution. And if you look at the requirements there, it's pretty clear that anything can play Peggle Extreme, including whatever $hitty device you're using to view this review.
No bugs, no mods, and considering that the glorified demo/full game is free, you can't really go wrong with it. It's considered a full game by my account because A) It's marked as so B) I doubt regular Peggle goes with the Valve themes,but it does seem pretty short at 10 maps. Then again, so did Alien Swarm, and it's still only one campaign.
Peggle Extreme is a cleverly made game that at the very least is a big upgrade from Solitaire. The game's low system requirements and accessibility scores it kudos. However,I never really got into it as much as everyone else did. But then again, I could just play me a game of Just Cause 2 or Fallout New Vegas. And if I needed something light, I'd probably just play Altitude or S & S HD, so I don't really have much of a need for Peggle Extreme.
I'd rather play the actual Team Fortess 2 to be honest
- <li>None really, the game's fine as is, but I still didn't get into it.
In my last review, I talked about how digital game distribution systems broke down some of the transaction costs for putting out indie games. How does this affect the creativity of these indie games? Smaller game studios are more ableto take risks with creative games. Large studios can't afford to take as much risk with creativity in fear of alienating a niche audience, and sometimes this shows; the critically acclaimed Thief and System Shock series, despite getting rave reviews, did poorly in sales. Indie companies are small, flexible, and thus more willing to take risks. In addition, indie developers are not only competingwith large studios, but also smaller studios, so they have to find some way to distinguish their products.
In addition, game developing for the most part has become more accessible. Programming books are ubiquitous and available digitally, and the boom of the internet has made the exchange of resources much easier. What this means is that producing a game, especially a lower budget indie one, is more common now, and has become a sort of creative means for some developers.
The indie game I'm going to b ereviewing for this entry is called The Path, created by developer Tale of Tales, the maker of The Graveyard. The Path is a sort of interactive story in which you're given the freedom to explore a forest on the way to your grandmother's house. As mentioned in the above paragraph, it shows how gaming can be a new medium for art. In this case, the game is a medium for the developer to prepare an immersive environment for the player to soak up.
The Path is an interactive story, which means that it's less focused on gameplay and more on the atmosphere, story, and feelings it would invoke in the player. You choose from several girls, who are all assigned the grand objectiveof reaching your grandmother's house. However, the real objective is to immerse yourself in the game's dark and immersive forest that surrounds your grandmother's house.
But if your grandmother's house looks like this, maybe you should just send your cookies via UPS
Before we get into the review, I'llgive a brief overview of the objective of the game. You choose from five different girls, who each must go on a path (hence the title) to pay a visit to their grandmother's. If you pay attention to the start of the game, it'll say not to stray off the path and run off in the forest. The path is linear, so you can just run straight and you'll eventually reach the old broad's house, and get the $hitty ending, because you're supposed to stray off the path and explore the surrounding forest. As you can see, this game was obviously made by a hipster, but the general point is to take the time to explore the forest like a sandbox game. I've played with two of the girls(BOOSH!), and although both started on the same path, the events they encountered in the forest differed.
Choose from your choice of five skanks to play Riding Hood
First off, I'll start with what's done right in The Path. The game's horror atmosphere is done exceptionally well, and it's done far better than other horror based games. It abandons the "horror" of Dead Space 2, Doom 3,and Resident Evil games by eliminating the "Boo!" events, so the horror is more subtle and actually scary, in contrast to just startling. Also in contrast to the Thief game series, it's not reliant on making the player feel vulnerable. It's just atmospherically scary, with the game's music and style perfectly complementing the creator's vision; play the first few minutes in to it and the music and sound will send shivers down your spine. The forest is significantly huge, dark, immersive, and filled with the right elements to make the player feel lost in the forest, giving the player a sense of apprehension without really relying on cheap horrortricks. It's fresh, and it works, and I hope that other gamedevelopers kind of take a hint on how The Path does horror. This,however, is offset by the lack of any kind of danger in the game. Horror requires not only a sense of dread of the unknown, but an understanding that what you don't understand can hurt you. That's why I usually don't crap my pants when my girlfriend wants to buy expensive and useless namebrand bags. The lack of any real threat to the player diminished the horror element of the game after several minutes.
A dark and enveloping forest punctured by the sight of your ugly clothes
Now for what's wrong, which is a lot,I'll start with the exploration aspect of the game. There are three objectives in exploring the forest. The first is to explore the world the developer made for you, which in my last paragraph is well done, so kudos.The second is to collect a variety of items with vapid descriptions as if written by a high school goth kid. The items are all random, and there is no clear connection drawn among them, and they're not really essential or usable in any way, so you only collect them for the sake of collecting, which makes it kinda pointless (like achievements).
There's a point to all this, but only the developer knows what it is
The third objective is to trigger events with objects in the game. See a girl running around in a white dress, and maybe you'll go up and play slap-hands with her. See a swing, and maybe you'll produce some inane comments. Maybe you'll drink a beer or two, but in the end it's not really made clear what you're supposed to do or what's important. You don't actually find out what your real objective is until you beat the game and it tells you that you failed to meet a wolf (that was an objective?). In the end, the game feels like it's reaching for something, but it forces the player to kind of guess or strain to piece two things together (like goth poetry).
High School all over again
This turns into-
this. Ah! Queen Elizabeth!
The exploration is also further hampered by two really bad gameplay decisions. The first is the lackof a compass or clear map to guide you back to the path when you're in the forest. The map the game gives you is pitifully useless, andreally just shows your tracks, which doesn't help when you've been wandering aimlessly like an idiot for half an hour while trying to find your way back. The second is the unusually awkward camera angle that the game gives you when you're running, and I can guarantee it is the worse camera angle I have ever seen in a videogame. The camera shifts ahead and behind the character, so you can't see for $hit in front of you, and can only see behind you,which is pointless in a game where nothing chases you.
Behold! The worse camera angle in gaming history
Gameplay wise, the game's pretty much a failure. In the end, because there's no guidance, you're really incredibly lost without any real anchor to ground you. There's not enough to do to be a sandbox, and it feels really restricted. I spent the majority of the game getting lost, and not really enjoying getting lost. The crappy map and camera angles really made sure I stayed frustrated and pissed. And worse, some of the events won't trigger correctly unless you're in a correct position. I was playing the little red riding hood girl and I saw a wolf, so I tried to trigger an event with it. Nothing happened, so I got lost and fifteen minutes later came back. This time, the event triggered, and she ran behind the wolf, hugged in from behind, and then apparently she started to choke it. The wolf dragged her around until the screen turned black, and the little idiot woke up in front of the Grandma's house with her clothes torn. I'll leave it to you perverts to put two and two together, but her movement speed was cut to half, and I was about 20 meters or so from the door. I put a weight on the w key so that she'd drag herself there, then I left to take a dump, and came back to find out that she still didn't reach the door yet. What the fu-k is this $hit? I can't believethe creator expected the player to sit there for 5 minutes holding down one button for this little $hit to crawl to a door. I got the good ending though, but in the end I still felt like I lost for playing this game.
Bathe...in your DEATH! Or just watch it until nothing happens.
Operating System: Microsoft® Windows® XP/Vista
Processor: 2 Ghz
Memory: 1 GB RAM
Hard Disk Space: 500 MB
Video Card: Recent Geforce® or Radeon® x6xxx 256 MB (no integrated graphics)
Sound Card: Any Sound Card
DirectX® Version: DirectX® 9.0c
I played the game with my dedicated graphics card, and the game ran smoothly on maxed settings. I didn't bother playing the game with my integrated graphics (and I doubt it'drun well on IGP anyways). There's a demo to the game available onsteam, which includes a campaign and a taste of what the game's about.
I doubt the game has any mods, and if there were any bugs, I didn't really experience any noticeable ones. I got the game bundled with a number of horror themed indie games including Burn Zombie Burn, so the price of the game would be about $1, and it retails for $10 on steam. To be honest though, I wouldn't buy the game if I knew it would have annoyed me that much.
I surprised myself for giving this game such a low score, especially when I was very optimistic going into the game. The game's very stylish, fresh, creative and has an excellent grasp on horror and atmosphere. Unfortunately, it sacrifices far too many gameplay elements in order to remain artsyand mysterious that it ruins the gameplay. The awkward camera angles, the difficultly in connecting the items to the story, and the lack of an intuitive map system really hinders the game. I know this game has gotten better reviews elsewhere, and I can see the value of the game as an interactive story (though getting lost in the woods running in circles for half an hour isn't much of a story). Be that as it may, as it stands as a game, The Path just isn't done well. I can see other people enjoying it more for its excellent style and horror, but as a game, it has room to improve.
- Implement a better map/compass system. It doesn't matter if it breaks immersion because getting lost completely sucks @$.
- The game really needs better camera angles. I don't need to see the ground behind me. I need to see what's in front of me.
- The players need more guidance than obscure goth poetry to connect the plot together
What better way to start the new year with a video game review? Actually, no wait, there are much better ways to spend the holidays, but I'm going to do this. The game I'm going to be reviewing is called Swords and Soldiers HD, an indie console port for the PC (similar to Burn Zombie Burn). I purchased the game on sale for $2.50, and considering I put in about 9 hours into it since yesterday, I'd say I got my money's worth.
Lately in the gaming scene, we've been seeing a growing trend; although main stream games are still reigning supreme, small indie games, like casual games, are exploding in popularity. Whether it's farmville, Plants vs Zombies, or the new Angry Birds game for the ipod, it's becoming pretty clear that indie games are gaining a lot of momentum. A casual glance at my most recently reviewed games will probably tell you that much.
All of this, in my opinion, is due to the changing way in how we purchase games. Because we now download games, rather than purchase them from the store, indie developers can finally reach the mainstream niche gamer. A lot of indie games, on steam right now, are exposed to plenty of players. Their low productions costs (most of them don't really need publishers) contribute to their low-price. Low prices, of course, means that players are more willing to take a risk and buy a game that cost $10 than $60. And because they're made by small studios, most indie games are creative and fresh, as they can take the risk and afford to do so. Not all indie games are good of course, but the overwhelming majority of them at least try to be original.
Swords and Soldiers HD is an indie game developed by Ronimo Games. The game is actually a side-scrolling tower defense/strategy game featuring three different civilizations, the Vikings, the Chinese, and the Aztecs, and the player's job is to build up a giant mob to clobber over the @$hole next door's castle.
The game is featured in a 2D format similar to worms and altitude.
Swords and Soldiers takes an unusual approach to tower games; it's both tower defense and tower attack...all of it without the towers. The game starts off with two castles, your's and your opponents, and usually the objective is to simply bring your opponents castle down. The game features three civilizations, the Chinese, Aztecs, and the Vikings. The Chinese favor magic, the Aztecs poison, and the Vikings on raw physical prowess. The game is like a very simple RTS; you need to mine resources to build up an army, and then you send the army to the enemy base. Much of it is automated, such as resource gathering. You even have no control over how your troops move whatsoever; once they're produced they go on a bee-line to the enemy base, damn hell and high water until they die.
A bee-line to the busty blonde women of course *wink wink thrust thrust*
When you first begin the game, you're going to need to focus on resources. There are two resources in the game, gold and mana. Gold is acquired automatically when you produce workers. You can produce a maximum of ten workers, and they usually only congregate around two starting gold shafts (that never run out of gold) next to your castle to keep things simple. After you create 10 of these , you don't have to worry about them anymore unless they're attacked, and there's no real other way to acquire gold. The other resource is mana, which you need to obviously cast spells. Both players regenerate mana automatically with no mana limit, but depending on which civ you play as, mana rates can be acquired differently. The Chinese can create Buddha statues that give mana, the Aztecs can sacrifice their people for mana, and the Vikings can upgrade their mana regeneration rate. What do you do with that gold and mana? Well, for starters you use the gold to purchase troops, which will be the backbone of your army. Spending gold on the technology tree will unlock more units to work with, buildings, and spells.
Insert gong sound
However, despite the fact that the civilizations are unique, the strategy to beat the game is the same: flood the enemy with as much troops as humanly possible. There are no real "elite" troops that can take a castle by itself, and thus the central offensive strategy of the game is to create the right combination of troops and spells to attack an enemy. Creating all weakling units means that they're going to be hit hard by an AOE attack, and selecting only expensive units means that you're going to be swamped by pea shooters. An Aztec necromancer can create an army of skeletons, but a catapult will turn the army to dust. Spells are extremely important to the game, and managing mana is also very important. The Chinese, for example, has a spell that can make permanent copies of their troops, moving the cost of producing troops from gold to mana. A Viking berserker, with a healing spell, can pretty much kill 4-5 enemy melee units before he eventually dies. No matter which side you play as, in the end the team that can conjure up the most soldiers with the right combinations at an enemy gate wins.
The Aztec Zerg Rush
Aside from the gameplay, the game also deserves praise for its humor, campaign pacing, and simplicity. The game can be pretty hilarious, down to the silly campaign to the voicing of the troops you pick. Hell, it's the first game I've played that actually used the term chinaman without shame. Secondly, the campaign does a pretty good job of introducing the player to the gaming concept. After the campaigns are over, I've felt that I've more or less gotten a good grasp of all the features of the game (I usually don't understand the more complicated RTS games). And finally, the game is simplified. There are only about three levels of tech, troops automatically move on their own, and for the most part the game always keeps you busy, but it's never overly frenetic that you lose yourself. The game's simplicity makes it accessible, which is always a good thing.
Apparently the ancient Chinese Yin-and-Yang allows the Chinese to undergo mitosis.
Aside from the campaign, however, there's not much else to do with the game. There are about three challenge missions, and the skirmish mode, although flexible, doesn't really keep you interested after a few rounds. For example, you can change the prices of your items and enemy difficulty, but all maps are pretty much the same. The most they can differ by is length, and sometimes there are alternate switches players can activate switches to change a road or two, but it doesn't change that much in terms of strategy. Multiplayer is limited to only 1 v 1, but I have a feeling this would make a great co-op game. I've clocked in 10 hours into the game, though I feel the replay value may be somewhat limited.
But then again, who doesn't want the chance to play as the boulder from Indiana Jones?
The game's system requirements are:
OS: Windows 7/Vista/XP
Memory: 256 MB RAM
Graphics: 64 MB graphics card
Hard Drive: 300 MB
On high and on native resolutions, I get over a 100 FPS, which isn't important. What is important is how it plays on my netbook, and on low and on the netbook's native resolution, it runs perfectly, with no lag whatsoever. Even other indie games like Altitude and Iron Grip do lag, just not enough to really take away from gameplay. S & S runs like butter even with dozens of troops on screen. The game gets definite bonus points for that.
There aren't any noticeable bugs, and there are no mods or campaign editors included. I purchased the game for $2.50 on sale at steam, but it's regular price is $10. If you've got a netbook, it's probably worth the $10, but I'd just wait for it to go on sale. It's a great game, well worth the $10 price tag.
Like Altitude, Swords and Soldiers deserves praise for being a lunchbreak sized game that delivers, even on low-end systems, and with a nice pricetag. Gameplay is well paced, the game's swimming in personality, and the game is challenging. The only real offset is how sometimes the game can be repetitive in terms of strategy, but overall it's excellent.
- How about a coop mode?
- More maps, and a bit more complex terrain could really spice things up for the game.
Just in time for Christmas is another horror game in time for the holidays. Burn Baby Burn is an indie game developed by developer Doublesix. The game is a twitch arcade game in which you control Bruce, a 50s greaser whose job is to set a whole assload of zombies on fire and then kill them, all the while avoiding the death of your greasy compadre and his half-witted girlfriend.
In Burn Zombie Burn, you play as Bruce, a 50s era greaser. The game's a top down run-and-gun with four game modes: regular freeplay, defend your girlfriend, timed, and challenge (the review will mostly cover freeplay). Your job is to light zombies up and then obliterate them for points, and you keep doing this until you eventually succumb to math, or zombie death, whichever comes first.
I hope the gel's flammable
When the game starts off, you spawn as our handsome big-jawed hero Bruce. A wave of zombies first appears, and after you make short work of them, the game really starts. Guns start spawning, zombies start attacking in swarms, and you start panicking. The game is seemingly straightforward; a swarm of zombies come after you, and you gun/beat them to death like a top down Serious Sam. You gain bonus points for killing them while on fire (most zombies will try to avoid you if you bust your torch out). The game doesn't actually end until you die; what differentiates a victory from a loss is basically how much you score before you kick the bucket.
Although gameplay wise it doesn't look like the game has a lot of depth, that's actually surprisingly far from the truth. Each level places various obstacles and enemy placements that affect what strategies are effective for certain levels. In some of the earlier levels, for example, I usually just lit enemies on fire and then let them gather towards a chokepoint where I chainsawed them to death. On the final level, however, exploding zombies spawned within the crowd; this meant that lighing enemies on fire may detonate the exploding zombie, which meant that you lost points as you didn't cause the explosion directly. Thus, I had to use a new strategy, which was cheating the hell out of the last level because it was too hard. In any case, the levels you choose to play, the weapons you're able to pick up, and the selection of enemies per wave can greatly affect what strategies are effective, forcing the player to remain flexible.
Another gameplay elements that players have to take into account is the actual lighting on fire of zombies. Though lighting them on fire and then killing them increases the amount of points you get for popping their heads, but it also changes their aggro rate and their drops. Normal zombies usually won't actively chase you, and when they're killed normally they drop drops like health and explosives. Lighting them on fire will make them chase the hell out of you, increases their damage, and makes them drop explosive upgrades instead of health. Thus, players will have to learn how to properly manage outbreaks of lit zombies; a level full of flaming zombies (no homo) will give the player to breathing room to escape, while a level with no flaming zombies means no points, and thus you're guaranteed to not get a medal. Getting the higher level medals require that you learn not only how to start zombie-fires, but also learn how to control and break them before they get out of hand.
This is actually considered an ideal situation
Not surprisingly, this makes Burn Zombie Burn a surprisingly difficult game, and it uses no lube for virgins of the game. When I first played the game, I pretty much assumed it was mindless. It didn't take long before the game carved me a new one. Eventually, I was forced to learn to use fire...until fires got out of hand and then I was turn into the game's wife. This game forces you to KNOW how to use its weapons, KNOW how to approach zombies, KNOW how to navigate the map, and KNOW how to balance the zombie horde. I wanted to lob the game a point for its difficulty, but really, I cant blame a game for my sucking at it.
Gameplay variety is adequate despite that there only a handful of levels in the game. As mentioned earlier, there are four modes (though I only really played freeplay) and there are three levels of difficulty. Enemy variety and firearm variety is satisfactory for the kind of game that this is, and you'll need to spend more time mastering the game than by complaining about more variety.
Pretty much everything
So what shortcomings are there for the game? Well, there are a few technical things that need to be polished. First things first, the targeting is sometimes out of whack. Instead of a targeting cursor, where you aim is determined by a sort of light shining down on the ground that shows where you're aiming at. This means that when aiming with guns, you might somehow shoot over them in a 2D game (how does that work?), and when using melee weapons, it doesn't really show where your chainsaw or lawnmower's aiming at. Another criticism is how long it takes Bruce to drop a bomb, gun, or switch to his torch. Even how he's supposed to be able to kick TNT (as oppose to throwing it?) takes too long. I know this all sounds minor, but split second changes make a big difference in this game. And what's the deal with the gun system in the game? It seems like Bruce loses his current gun whenever he runs over another game, and there's nothing more irking than losing your gatling gun because you picked up a cricket bat accidentally.
The game's system requirements are:
OS: Windows XP (Service Pack 3), Windows Vista, Windows 7
Processor: 1.8 GHz, Dual Core
Memory: 2 GB RAM
Graphics: DirectX® 9 compliant graphics adaptor. 512 MB, With Shader Model 3.0
DirectX®: DirectX® 9
Hard Drive: 2 GB space free
Sound: DirectX® 9 compliant sound card
Which looks somewhat high, but most computers can handle it. I didn't bother with my netbook because there are hundreds of zombies on screen at a time, and this game doesn't play well as a slideshow. When playing, my FPS were about 20+, which seems odd because the game ran butter smooth with my graphics card.
There aren't any real bugs for the game that I know of, and I doubt there are any mods. As for value, it's a hit or miss. I've only put in four hours into it with just freeplay, and I'm sure others would put in a lot more. The game's available on steam (not sure at anywhere else) for $10, but it goes on sale frequently. I got the game as part of a $5 bundle of indie games, so I guess it's all right for the value of about $1 USD.
The game is seemingly simple but has a steep learn-as-you-go learning curve, making it a frustrating (or challenging if you prefer) game, but it does what it's supposed to do; it's a single player Left 4 Dead on crack (you'll kill thousands of zombies per level if you're good, and there are explosions everywhere). This will certainly appeal to some people, but it's not really for me. However, I felt that it deserved more than a 7 because A) It only cost me a dollar B) It's technically more or less perfect with the exception of the few annoyances C) It is challenging, tense, and never boring. If you like run-and-gun games (Serious Sam, a few of those old school arcade games) then this game is for you. It's got a good amount of depth, and it's really a great lunchbreak sized game if you've got a proper netbook for it.
- Make Bruce respond faster when weapon switching and make aiming more clear. These small changes really make the difference between life and death in a game like this.
- Why not a bit of cooperative multiplayer? You have to imagine a giant map with 4 different Bruces running around with hordes of burning zombies.
- This is beyond the scope of the game, but how about a few toys to play with like turrets or vehicles if the the above suggestion is implemented? This would add even more depth to the game.
After playing the cartoony bag of sugar that is Altitude, I jumped right into Dead Space. For those of you who haven't heard of Dead Space, it's a third person shooter/over the shoulder, survival/action/horror game featuring a mute engineer named Issac, who crash lands on a space station to repair it and find his yapping wife. So, think of it as a mix of System Shock 2/Event Horizon/Doom 3/Clunky Resident Evil 4 controls and you've got yourself Dead Space. The game received critical acclaim, and its much anticipated sequel is coming out.
Dead Space is set in a claustrophobic space setting (Event Horizon/Doom 3/System Shock 2). Some corporation picks up an artifact and unlocks something evil (the above three), and your job is to navigate and repair the space station Ishimura while avoiding/killing the freaks of nature residents (Doom 3/SS2).
This game will remind you of Event Horizon
Gameplay in Dead Space, as mentioned earlier, is an over-the-shoulder third person shooter like in Resident Evil 4. The problem with this is that aiming like this is clunky. Issac's head blocks the view sometimes, and turning for whatever reason in aim mode is incredibly slow, leaving you open for attacks from your flank. Turning also tends to throw the camera view into space. All this means that Issac, when being attacked from multiple directions, makes him vulnerable. The use of the third person is useful, especially for platforming, but flat-footed Issac doesn't really jump much. Also, the over the shoulder view really hinders his ability to see around him. In all honesty, Dead Space would have simply worked better as a first person shooter. Enemies in the game also have an unusual weakness, in that they're weakness are their limbs, which is fairly easy to get used to as enemies tend to show them off like a peacock shows off its feathers. Game pacing is generally excellent though, and enemies are far and in between, keeping you in a good balance of suspense and anticipation.
Weapons in Dead Space, unlike in other futuristic FPS games, are original and practical. Dead Space ditches the standard shotgun/assault rifle/smg/pistol drudgery like in Doom 3. Instead, most weapons in dead space are of an original design, and have practical implications. The pistol fires in rounds of three, creating a sort of energy disc just right for severing enemy limbs. The shotgun has been replaced with a sort of larger pistol version that fires a line of energy up to a meter wide. Even the game's assault rifle fires 6 bullets at once, sort of like an automatic shotgun. Other game developers, especially those making futuristic based games, should take a note on Dead Space.
Someone must have been high to come up with this
The horror elements are done well, but they're not anything particularly original. The horror element is composed in three ways: startling events, fighting ugly monster things, atmosphere, and survival. The game basically relies on the same horror elements mentioned in the above 3 games. Atmospherically, the game is claustrophobic and creepy. There's graffiti on the walls, blood everywhere, lights are dim, and you'll hear the occasional whisper now and then. If you've played Doom 3, you'll find the horror elements surprisingly similar, right from the organic growth all over the ships to the piles of dead bodies always lying around. The monsters are designed better than the ones in Doom 3, and they're appropriately ugly and original looking. The game relies on Doom 3/Resident Evil's enemies pop out of nowhere method of scaring players, which does do a good job of startling the players, but as Yathzee said in his review, this isn't scary as it is startling. If the monsters were replaced with rabbits, it'd have the same startling effect, and it gets kind of tired and played out after a while. The survival element of the game went pretty well in the beginning, when you had to run from a bunch of monsters in the beginning, but right after you pick up your first gun, you realize there's not much 'survival' element to the game. I played on easy, and most enemies curled over with two shots, and then dropped an ammo pack worth up to 8, so my inventory was constantly crowded with ammo. Keep in mind that I killed everything and didn't really make an effort to preserve ammo. In the game's defense, I actually hate running from battles and preserving ammo, so I actually don't mind at all. Overall, the horror elements in the game are done well, and are at least better than the ones done in Doom 3. At the very least, they're more polished and have no respawning enemies, and all weapons have a flashlight included.
I don't know, it's some sort of corpse humper or something.
The old we-didn't-pay-the-electric-bill horror element
Dead Space also has a store/upgrade system similar to Bioshock's. Scattered across the space station are upgrade stations and stores, the former allowing you to upgrade your armor and guns, and the latter allowing you to purchase/sell items and purchase new armor. This comes in handy as the game hails ammo and healthpacks on you, and the game allows you to store items. The unusual thing about this system is that the game doesn't pause when you're shopping, and I've almost gotten hit when a monster was rushing towards me when I was purchasing shoes.
The game also incorporates a few minigames into the mix. There's a small turret minigame, and there's a practice range minigame. Occassionally, the game will let you fool around in zero gravity, letting you run to ceilings and jump large bounds. The game also places you in a zero oxygen/space environment, which forces you to rush or die from no oxygen.
Pew pew pew!
One gameplay element worthy of criticism is the game's objectives system, which takes a page out of Doom 3's. The game is divided into 13 chapters, and in each chapter you have to go from here to there, do this, open that, yadda yadda, and then move on and do the same thing in the next chapter. Everything's either broken or inaccessible, and you have to go back and forth to get around. Basically, it's like Doom 3, to pointlessly go from point A to point B doing something you can vaguely care about. Like in Doom 3, this unfortunately seems like busy work, and unnecessarily pads extra length to the game. I racked in 13 hours into the game, but really, the game should be cut in half, and would have kept the game fresh. The map system is also terrible because of the holographic image display mode, but this is offset by the game's breadcrumbs feature, which will show you a direct line to your objective, so screw the map.
I know a few games that could really have used this feature
Another gameplay element that I will criticize is the game's forcing the use of special powers to accomplish objectives. The game grants you two special powers, telekinesis and freeze. The former works the exact same way as the gravity gun in Half Life 2. You use it to move things around. The game whores this element out by forcing you to use TK for everything. Need to put a battery into a slot? Don't pick it up, use TK to put it in. Need to move a giant package? Don't just push a button, use TK for it. Need to pull a handsized lever down? Don't use your hands to move it down, use TK. There's a freeze ability that you need to use to stop fans and doors from crushing you, but like TK, it's pretty unnecessary also. However, both of these can be used against enemies, the former by throwing objectives like explosives to enemies, and the latter for freezing enemies. Their use against enemies should be kept, their use for puzzles should be minimized.
Apparently in the future, buttons are considered obsolete.
The game's system requirements are:
Supported OS: Microsoft Windows® XP SP2 or Vista
Processor: 2.8 GHz or faster
Memory: 1 GB RAM or more for Windows XP (2 GB for Vista)
Graphics: DirectX® 9.0c compatible video card, Shader Model 3.0 required, 256 MB or better, NVIDIA GeForce 6800 or better (7300, 7600 GS, and 8500 are below minimum system requirements), ATI X1600 Pro or better (X1300, X1300 Pro and HD2400 are below minimum system requirements)
Hard Drive: 7.5 GB free space
Sound: DirectX® 9.0c compatible sound card
When playing with my ATI 5650, the game racked up 50 to 110 fps on highest settings. Yeah, that high. The game apparently is bugged so that adding vsync will cause the game targeting to lag. In either case, the game runs great, and it looks good.
There's no demo out for the game unfortunately.
The only bug I know of is the vsync bug. The game only has one patch, so I'm guessing they stopped caring regardless. There aren't any mods available, though playing a second time unlocks a few items.
The game's on sale on Amazon for $15, but I purchased the game for about $9, which seems about fair.
Dead Space goes an overall good job as an action horror, but the game is unnecessarily long and the controls are still pretty clunky. And, despite the many original elements inputted into the game (breadcrumbs, new weapons), it still feels like a blender of various games and movies, and feels like something I've already done before. Those looking for a Event Horizon themed game, or Doom 3 done right, you'll be happy to know that this game applies to you.
- Make the game a FPS. This will improve the controls of the game.
- Don't force the player to use TK/Statis powers to complete objectives. This just feels gimmicky.
- Compress the game to make it shorter.
Remember Iron Grip: Warlord? Well, here comes another game in spirit of netbook playability. Altitude is an aerial game developed by Nimbly Games that not only looks great, plays great, but is also easy on the system.
Altitude is a team based flight simulator/action game that lets you pilot an aircraft and duke it out with other players/bots through a variety of gameplay types and maps.
Before you start off, know that there are a bare minimum of graphic settings that you can play with. After, you can jump into an online game (pretty easy to do) or go to training/skirmish (play with bots). If you're new to the game, jump into the latter.
Before you begin gameplay, you choose your aircraft. There are a total of 12 aircraft, but in actuality only 6 in total; each aircraft has a slightly different version that has a different layout.
Think of them less as individual planes as more like layouts
After which, if you've unlocked your plane, you are able to access a larger variety of weapons, hulls, and powerups. Each plane has a total of about unique 3 weapon slots (primary/secondary), and all planes can access the same hulls and powerups. These items are unlocked by leveling up.
Pew pew pew!
If you're skipping the tutorial, then you can jump into a skirmish and you can play 7 different modes: Plane ball (like football), team deathmatch, deathmatch, base destruction, one life deathmatch, one life base destruction, one life demolition, and all their accompanying levels. All in all, there's a surprisingly good variety of missions, but the most interesting ones are base destruction and plane ball.
I died for this screenshot
What about the gameplay then? Well, it's pretty damn fun. It's great fun flying through debris, dodging enemy fire, and then fire a spike into a goal. Imagine escorting a bomber with a nuke, shooting through the enemy defense, watching him fall prey to enemy fire, pick up the nuke and then deliver the final finishing blow to an enemy base. It's simple to start with but gets a bit more complex as you learn to master the techniques in the game. Collecting the right powerups, the right ships, and the right weapons can change your strategy in the game. It's not as complex as TF 2 though. There's no building anything, and winning an objective is really just about concentrating your forces with organization, but it's okay enough for a lunchbreak game, and there's never really a dull moment as the action is usually constant.
The game's also surprisingly polished (like World of Goo polished). The music is epic and fitting, the graphics are cartoony and crisp, and the controls are simplified and minimalized such that you can play with only the keyboard and no mouse, though you would be slightly handicapped. There's just the right amount of variety and gameplay to keep the game from being overwhelming, and the game's well balanced. The game also gets a bonus point for being netbook friendly. I played the game on my netbook, and the game plays well; the game can lag a bit, but it hasn't distracted from gameplay.
The only big problem I had with the game. The game has a feature called "stall". If you fly straight up, straight down, decrease speed, or hit a wall, then you need to boost either to the left or right to get out of a stall, otherwise you'll fall like a fat guy on a cloud. It's a pretty unusual concept that's not really obvious to the layman, and it's pretty jarring to crash so many times because of something that isn't explained that well. There are powerups to assist with that, but it doesn't get you out of situations like this:
Boost to the left to return to the position that you're already in
The game runs fine on my primary notebook, but as mentioned earlier, it lags a bit on my netbook. I suppose it lags the same way as Iron Grip: Warlord, in that it doesn't lag enough to overly distract from gameplay.
Its system reqirements are:
OS: Windows® 7 / Vista / Vista64 / XP
Processor: 1.0 Ghz
Memory: 256 MB
Graphics: 64 MB VRAM
Hard Drive: 300 MB of free space
So yeah, it's netbook friendly enough.
There's a demo for the game linked on the main site: http://altitudegame.com/
The only real bug I had with this game had to do with alt-tabbing, which made the game pause for a long time. I don't think there are any mods available, but there are maps and a map editor included with the game. The game's available for $10, but I managed to get it included with a bundle of a buncha games for about $2, so it was worth the money to me. The game will probably be available on sales every now and then.
Altitude is a fun, accessible, and polished game worthy of accolade. Also, I got it for the equivalent of 50 cents, so I really can't complain about the game except for the stalling thing. Great variety, great fun, low system requirements, low pricetag, and great polish means that I recommend the game. I didn't have as much fun with it as with TF 2 and depth can be lacking, but it's not a bad game. Try it out and see if it's for you.
- Increase the variety of ships and powerups for more variety
- Eliminate or modify the stall, so that players new to the game can work around it. It's pretty punishing at times.
I heard of Borderlands a long time ago, which got more or less positive reviews and seemed to have an interesting premise. However, I hesitated to get it because Hellgate:London put me off to first person hack and slashers, and I wasn't usually a fan of Diablo 2 style hack and slashers. However, my little brother got it, so I bit the bullet and bought it (not even on sale too). I came in initially with low expectations, but this game surpassed my expectations greatly (evidence by how many hours I've put into the game).
Borderlands is a first person hack/slash shooter that takes place in an alien post-apocalyptic world. Basically, take the elements of Diablo 2 and mix it up with traditional FPS elements (like Hellgate: London) but in a Fallout sort of setting...and replace your traditional graphics will an Unreal 3 engine of cell shaded graphics.
In Borderlands, you play as a treasure hunter who's in a planet called Pandora, and you're looking for a vault. To get there, you travel from level to level, doing quests, and killing bosses until you get to the relatively disappointing ending. If that sounds bland, keep in mind that what the game lacks in originality it makes up for in presentation and polish.
The game starts you off with the choice of four classes: sniper, stealth, soldier all-rounder, and heavy weapons guy. After that, that's all you go for customization. Well, that's not all...you can change the color schemes and change your name, but that's really it. The game gives you no armor options whatsoever save for the ability to acquire personality-less shields.
This is unfortunate because I actually found my character ugly and annoying
After the slow but well presented intro, you start off with the meat and beans of the game experience: killing a bunch of crap. When you start off, the game's actually pretty hard, and guns incorporate an accuracy rating like in Fallout 3, so you'll start off missing a lot even when your crosshair's are right on the enemy's head. Thus, the game starts off kinda frustrating as you get your @$ kicked, but you become increasingly more familiar with the game's gameplay. Overall, it's pretty satisfying and has all the things you'd expect from a fps. Though your character specializes in certain weapons, you can actually use pretty much any weapon you want. My character can specialize in sniper rifles and pistols, but I avoided the latter and just went loco with SMGs and Assault Rifles. The game also features two level up systems. The first is the level-up-and-spend-points system in Diablo 2, and then there's the your-skill-level-increases-the-more-you-use-your-weapon system taken from Dungeon Siege. I liked the latter system as it's pretty reasonable. Keep in mind that, while Fallout 3 and Hellgate seem to have somewhat sluggish fps elements (like it was an action or RPG first and a FPS later), Borderlands really feels like a real FPS. Movements are smoother and less sluggish than in Fallout or Hellgate.
Boom! Headshot! Unfortunately, FPS Doug is still a more likable character than my own. Doh.
The quest system in Borderlands is almost as bad as the one in Hellgate: London. Your objectives are not randomly generated, but they're all pretty generic. You either a) kill some guy b) kill a whole bunch of people c) fetch quests. The latter is pretty fu-king annoying, and it's similar to Hellgate:London's in terms of annoyance factor. For example, I might have to find 6 pieces to make a shotgun, but the pieces are scattered in hard to reach places. Also, while the map shows you the general location of where an objective is, but if you need to find 6 pieces of an item, it'll only show the location of one piece at a time, generally wasting your time. The rewards are $hitty too, generally worse than what you already have unless you kill a major boss and get a unique item.
Here's an example of how the cel shading works with characters in the game
One thing that sucks about Borderlands (and sucks with all hack and slashers) is the loot system. Like in these games, your loot is all randomly generated. Imagine killing a large behemoth or a small doglike creature and then watch it $hit out out a sniper rifle and a grenade from its rectum. How is that possible and why keep this ridiculous system? Borderlands is a bit better in that random attributes are better assigned; that is, weapons will only get properties that affect weapons and shields will only get properties that affect shields. In other hack and slashers, you might get a gun that for some reason increases your shields, or like in Torchlight, a sword that does both fire and ice damage. In Borderlands, not so. A weapon you pick up will only have offensive stats, and certain brands of weapons will have a greater chance of certain attributes. A Maliwan gun will always have some sort of elemental property for example. This makes the loot system a bit better, but it's still really annoying to pick up a game you like that's missing a property you want, and you can't do anything about it. Sometimes I pick up a sniper rifle with a scope that's too near or far sighted, or a good SMG that needs a level boost. Some people get boners for getting randomly generated loot; I don't. Borderlands should implement an upgrade system.
The loot system is also unfortunate because it also affects the game's exploration and reward system. Borderlands has all the right properties to make a game repetitive, but it always manages to be one step away from repetition thanks to its exploration and progression system. For example, most of the enemies you see in the beginning of the game you'll also see near the end of the game. Though this looks like a recipe for repetition, the game always seems to implement new enemies per new level, which keeps the game in a surprisingly good balance; the game always feels familiar, but keeps you interested.
After killing a thousand of this Skagzilla's lesser cousins, imagine my surprise when I had to deal with this giant @$hole
The exploration system is also surprisingly good for something that shouldn't be. Even though the environments are the same, the maps are huge but crossable by walking or driving, and entering a new area piques your curiosity to explore. You might run into a camp of enemies or a claptrap in need of help, and the levels, music, and atmosphere do a good job of keeping you interested. However, the game $hits on itself because of the loot system; killing a boss you encounter, or finding some rare, off the beaten track treasure chest gets you the same crap you'd get killing a common good or opening a common chest. In addition, secrets/npcs are rare to come by in the game. If you meet someone, it's because you need to and the game points you there, not because it's optional. The game's lacking that extra personality that can be found like in games like Fallout 3, where random exploration might lead you to meet anyone from playboys to robot traders. In Borderlands, there aren't even shop keepers, only vending machines. What a buzz kill.
Landscapes in Borderlands are vast and physically unique, but it's still just Mad Max desert
In addition, exploring is complicated by the game's use of respawning enemies. This is unfortunate because you often get quests popping up after you clear a level, so when you go back to that level you'd have to kill everything you see all over again. As mentioned earlier in my Postal 2 review, having things respawn defeats the feeling of accomplishment you get for clearing a level. What's even worse is that enemies respawn after a given set of time within a level. Kill a group of crabs in the beginning, come back, and they're back again. That's @$.
Another one thing that Borderlands should improve on is its inventory storage system. You pick up a crapload of loot, and if you want to see it, you'd have to travel through and back to a vending machine (usually more than several in a level, but levels are big). You don't have the pet in Torchlight that can sell items for you. Worse of all, your backpack space is limited and there aren't any lockers; when I was playing, I had to make some tough choices about throwing away some rare items to make space for selling $hit. As you progress through the game, you can rescue annoying claptrap robots, who will increase your inventory space. Unfortunately, their quests are the most difficult and waste a lot of time. You can cheat however.
I really, really hate these guys
If the review comes off as somewhat negative, keep in mind that I had a blast playing this game, and I was addicted to it. The game is well polished, and the exploration, even if limited, keeps me interested. The quests are kinda generic, but it doesn't matter because I enjoyed shooting everything in the face with my explosive sniper rifle and gunning everything to death. Borderlands also implements a few systems to make the hack/slash experience more positive. For example, when purchasing/selling items, you can conveniently compare items. The save system is relatively harmless, and there's a handy jump system that can send you and through levels pretty effortlessly. The game from the beginning video to end is well stylized and has a distinct personality of its own (though not as well done as Mass Effect's or Fallout's). The game also lets you ride cars through your stay in Pandora. Though they took a while to get used to (they steer with the mouse rather than with the WASD buttons), they're more or less easy to use and handle. They can kill and run over enemies easily at the cost of XP, but they're convenient as hell.
And they shoot rockets.
The game runs on the Unreal 3 engine, which is surprisingly optimized. I could play Bioshock/Unreal Tournament 3 with my old Geforce 6800 videocard, and I bet I could run Borderlands on that too. When playing with my videocard, I averaged about 40 fps with settings on all high except for shadows. Unfortunately, if I put enabled dynamic shadows, the game would drop down to 30 fps, in which the game becomes too laggy for sniper play. This is unfortunate because the game looks better with dynamic shadows. Unreal 3 engine games don't enable Anti-Aliasing, so I couldn't play the game with AA enabled. If you look at the screens, you'll see that some of the graphics aren't particularly smooth.
The game's system requirements are:
OS: Windows XP/Vista
Processor: 2.4 Ghz or equivalent processor with SSE2 support
Memory: 1GB System RAM (2GB recommended with Vista)
Graphics: 256mb video ram or better (GeForce 7 series or higher/Radeon HD3000 series or higher)
Hard Drive: 8 GB or more free space
Sound: Windows compatible sound card
Nothing too pants wetting.
Unfortunately, there's no demo available to see if you can try the game out or run it. Maybe you can play another Unreal 3 game like Bioshock and see how that works out.
The game was more or less stable, with the occasional crashing every not and then. The game was released over a year ago, so most of it is patched anyways. The multiplayer requires some tweaking, but it didn't take an entire day for me to take care of it. As far as I know, there are no mods for the game, but there are mod programs though. This page here will lead you a few programs that will allow you to edit your save to increase storage space, or to make your own custom weapons: http://www.brighthub.com/video-games/pc/ar.../81052.aspx?p=2
I purchased the game for $20. The collection was released, but I was afraid that I'd dislike the game, but I love it actually. Right now, the price is pretty high, but it's worth the $20. My advice is, if you're not in a hurry, get the collection when the price drops.
Borderlands is an great and entertaining game, and, surprisingly for a hack and slasher, manages to avoid becoming repetitive and manages to keep the player interested in playing the game. It is a great example of a hack/slash game on par with Torchlight (though with more annoyances), and far better than Hellgate. There's also a four player coop mode that works pretty well too, which always gives a game an extra point. However, it still has some of the traditional problems endemic to hack and slashers like randomly generated loot, randomly generating enemies, and limited inventory space. While these would possibly turn off players not interested in hack and slashers, it still doesn't distract too much from the overall great experience, but does show that there's room for improvement. If I had known I'd enjoy Borderlands this much, I probably would have sprung to get Borderland's many DLCs also.
- Get rid of random respawns, or do what Fallout 3 does and bring the enemies back slowly after a few days. Otherwise, you'd kill the feeling of accomplishment
- This will probably be controversial, since it's arguable that the random loot factor keeps people coming back to the game, but get rid of it or at least implement some sort of upgrade system.
- Exploration should include more non-combat elements or better prizes. More NPCs, more unique treasures being found in rare locations, etc etc. Basically, make exploration more rewarding.
- How about some customization elements? I understand it's a FPS first, but a game with this many RPG elements should have some customization options. I want to look awesome god damn it.
After playing two card games that would reduce my netbook to a eunuch, it's good to know that there are games out there that can be played with a netbook (in my case, my netbook is worse than my 10 year old computer). This time I'll be reviewing a game called Iron Grip: Warlord, by indie developer Isotx. In case you're wondering, Iron Grip is a universe developed by said company that takes place in a steampunk setting. Sound interesting? Read on.
Iron Grip: Warlord is described as hybrid between tower defense and first person shooter. The game's a multiplayer game, though bots are supported for single player skirmish. Thus, it's like Battlefield or Unreal Tournament; you play individual maps instead of having one continuous campaign. In every map, you play as a militia member whose job is to defend strongholds from an enemy offensive until their morale is depleted, with your reward being that they stop sending troops and just nuke your city to rubble. The hybrid part comes in that, even though its primarily a fps, you're able to build and deploy turrets and traps to assist your defense, so it has some elements similar to say, the engineer from TF 2, or the engineer from Quake Wars: Enemy Territory. In any case, the concept is interesting and somewhat refreshing compared to regular Team Deathmatch or Capture the Point.
Before you begin, you should be sure to tweak your system settings and whatnot. The game runs on the Quake 3 engine (over 10 years old), so the vast majority of computers can handle this game one way or the other. My netbook is perfectly capable of playing the game for instance. The offshot is that the game doesn't natively support 16:9 resolutions. Though you can force the game to do so, there are graphical distortions.
As mentioned above, in the game, you play as an Atelian militia member whose grand objective is to get the the Atelian population to revolt against the Confederate oppressors. To conquer a city, the Confederates invade with infantry and armor, but your goal is to frustrate their offense such that they nuke the hell out of your city, killing everyone inside. Apparently these militia d!cks are from the Hezbollah school of military thought that champions using civilians as hostages, and forcing the enemy to kill the hostages, thus pissing the hostages off to no end.
The enemy is nuking us back to the stone age! Huzzah! Huzzah!
To force the enemy to bring democracy to your city, you have to first stymie the enemy ground offense, which is the meat and beans of the gameplay. To do this, you must drop their morale while maintain your own side's morale. Your side's morale rises as long as your stronghold is maintained, and everytime you kill an enemy officer, take down enemy armor, or kill a whole bunch of their goons. The enemy morale rises as long as there's an officer still alive in the field. Interestingly enough, every time an enemy kills a civilian (who are littered all over the place), your side gains power...the lesson being that you should never be a civilian in the world of Iron Grip. Power is used to construct and upgrade defensive buildings, or upgrade yourself. You gain power by killing enemies (such as armor or officers), finding loot, or just staying alive.
The tower defense gameplay element is done quite well, and is seemlessly integrated into the FPS gameplay mode. Pressing the G button will bring up the tower defense mode like so:
Switch back into fps mode and you should get something like this:
The cannons and machine gun nests, not the cocktail
The tower defense gameplay is pretty solid and works pretty well. The game shows you the path that enemies will take, and gives you a small amount of time to plan appropriately. After which, you'll have to do things on the fly. If you follow this gameplay route, then you'll have to balance among building buildings, upgrading friendly buildings, gathering resources, and repairing, so yeah, basically like the engineer in TF 2. Anyone who plays with me knows that I love the role of the engineer, so I loved this aspect of gaming also. Everything seems pretty balanced, but pretty limited. The primary defensive options are anti-infantry machine gun nests, or anti-armor cannons, and that's all you can build (which is more than the engineer can say). You can also build supply depots, traps, explosives, etc, so it's robust enough.
The fps gameplay on the other hand, while also somewhat robust, is not as smooth or original. On the easy setting, fighting with just the fps elements is unpolished but robust. With power, you can purchase weapons ala CS, or purchase upgrades such as health, speed, damage, or regeneration boosts. Combat is somewhat like what you'd expect from Left 4 Dead, in that a small squad has to deal with a huge swarm of goons, most of them dying relatively quickly. They always arrive in huge groups, making for easy targets for spray and pray gameplay. Get a minigun, wait for them to come out of a tunnel, and then shoot the 2s out of them (2 being power). Unfortunately, for whatever reason, the gameplay seems kind of 1996ish. You run really fast, and it always seems kind of stiff and robotic, though I think this has more to do with the Quake 3 engine.
Instead of blood, the enemies gush out numbers from their heads.
Also, the steampunk theme in the game is rarely utilized. For example, I suppose for game balancing reasons, the weapons just look similar to what you'd find in Battlefield. At first you start off with a pistol and a musket, but they work essentially the same as say, a WWII pistol and bolt action rifle. Your upgrades include a light machine gun, shotgun, heavy machine gun, bazooka, flamethrower, etc etc. See the picture? The concept art does look steampunkish, but the weapons are pretty WWIIish. The graphics are, not surprising for a game that can run on a netbook, kinda muddy and ugly, so you really dont really see any steampunk elements. If you replaced all the skins with Nazi uniforms, it'd be exactly that. The maps themselves take place in cities, but you don't see a lot of industry like trains or whatnot, so it looks like any old WWII map. It's a shame really, because a FPS that really soaks in the setting like in Arcanum would have been great.
This is kind of what I was expecting
Your choice of World War 2 weapons. I mean, steampunk.
In either case, both gameplay modes complement and work seamlessly together, and both have their advantages and disadvantages. The advantage of going fps is that your points spent are permanent throughout the level, so if you die you still keep the benefits. Also, playing as a traditional fps has the advantage of being flexible. All to often, in a multiplayer game, my team deploys assloads of machine gun nests, only to have the defense fall apart because they neglected to build a working anti-armor cannon in time. Unlike buildings, you can move, find cover, and with the right purchases you can have firepower that can take out armor and infantry. The only problem is that you're made of spaghetti and cannonballs have a tendency to court your face. Buildings have the advantage of being sturdier and by having infinite ammo, but they require extensive maintenance, can't move, and can't be set in narrow areas.
Gameplay varies when playing multiplayer and single player. When playing multiplayer, as mentioned above, my teammates tended to construct way too many machine gun nests and not enough anti-armor (maybe they're noobs), but the fact that they're building something helps a lot. The AI in single player helps repair buildings, but never builds anything, so the responsibility is all placed on you to build buildings. In multiplayer, the difficulty increases, and it becomes increasingly important to concentrate manpower together to push back the enemy. Otherwise, gameplay is the same. Unfortunately enough, the game doesn't give the players a lot of settings to play with. In single player skirmish mode, for example, I can't manually change maximum player limits, respawn times, starting cash, etc etc.
My primary criticism of Iron Grip: Warlord is the lack of polish in the game. The game still feels like it's in beta, with the drab graphics and the stiffness of character movement. The number of maps and gamemodes is limited, and in the end it feels like there's not much you can do except build here, stay here, and wait for the enemy morale to drip.
The game's system requirements are:
OS: Microsoft Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7
Processor: Pentium 4 2.0 GHz or Athlon XP 2000+
Memory: 512 MB of available system memory
Hard Drive: 550 MB of available hard drive space
Graphics: 128 MB OpenGL compatible Video Card (FX 5200 or Radeon 8500 or better)
Sound: DirectX Compatible Soundcard
The system requirements are actually lower than that. I played the game with my netbook overclocked to 2 ghz, but it'll still lag playing Neverwinter Nights on low. When playing the game on my netbook, the game runs fine, with only slight lag. Either way, the lag doesn't interfere with the gameplay since you're either base building or spray-and-praying, so it's all good. I get about 20 fps on my netbook, but for some reason it feels much smoother. The cost of course is that the game looks pretty crappy.
There's a demo here: http://igwarlord.isotx.com/splash/
There aren't too many noticeable bugs, though my brother and I had trouble finding each other through multiplayer. I don't think it's going to be that hard of a problem as we have played together before. I purchased the game for $5 at Gamersgate, and the original price is $10. If you've got a netbook and have been wanting to get a decent FPS Battlefield game, then wait for the price of this game to drop and pick it up. As far as I know, there aren't any mods, and the number of levels is only about 6 or 7.
Iron Grip:Warlord has a very interesting premise, and the core gameplay is solid. The tower defense gameplay mechanism is well integrated, and the game is surprisingly balanced between the tower defense and fps elements. That being said, the gameplay is stiff, the maps are limited, and weapon/building options need to be expanded. Of course, the core weapons and buildings are there, but what about more steampunk variety? The game is in a steampunk setting, so why not show it? The game runs smoothly on a netbook, but it's offset by its lackluster graphics. However, I still recommend this game for anyone looking for a lunchbreak sized Battlefield game that can run on any computer, and the game shows a lot of unrealized potential. A sequel done right would really do the series some real justice.
- The Quake 3 engine, while its use as an engine is understandable, is pretty dated. Slapping it onto a newer engine, such as the Unreal Engine 3, would give the game a much appreciated facelift that would really help the player be immersed into the theme. The offset of course is that my crappy netbook wouldn't be able to play it, but I think this would help the game reach a wider audience. The Unreal 3 engine, from my experience, runs pretty well, and my old Geforce 6800 ran Unreal 3 engine games very well. Now, I know that it's not a viable option for an indie company because of costs, but the general idea is to try a newer engine if possible. I heard that Id Tech 4 will be released for source 2011, maybe that would be an upgrade possibility.
- Create a more persistent gaming experience. It would be great if Isotx would create the single map based mode seen in UT/BF/Quake 3, but how about creating a campaign that allows the player to gain permanent upgrades or experience, like a light RPG element to it? Something like Thief 3 that allows the player to experience the world of Iron Grip would be great, especially considering how much work and effort Isotx puts into developing the Iron Grip lore.
- More steampunk elements please. As the above two suggestions show, I'm really for the steampunk setting. Putting things like supply trains, mortars, or more steampunk weapons would be great and would distinguish the game from other generic fps games. The implementation of things like gas traps and trip wires shows that Isotx has the right idea, but they should continue to expand on original ideas.
- Place on the minimap the location of power powerups so that players can find them more easily