Archive for June, 2013
There are few games that I still play after a few years, and Castle Crashers, developed by The Behemoth, is one of them. I am glad that I didn’t pass the game up when it came out in 2008 for Xbox 360 and that everyone in my house enjoys playing, even my wife which is a pleasant surprise.
Castle Crashers comes with three modes that are playable on local and online. The main, and best mode, is story mode in which an evil wizard steals a large crystal from an old king and you must travel the world battling enemies to defeat the wizard and take the crystal back. There is lots of humor spread throughout the game from animals on one level defecating from fear to the weapons available (I use a lollypop and my wife loves the wooden spoon).
The game is hack and slash with RPG elements. You have four different skills (strength, magic, defense, and agility) to increase and can max them all by level 79. The level cap is supposed to be 99 but I have seen a few people online over 100. Playing through and beating the story mode unlocks more characters to use and unlocks a hardcore mode for the character you used. The other modes are a free-for-all pvp arena, and a button mashing competition called “all you can quaff.” When I played arena mode online I kept getting stuck against players much higher level than me so I kept losing and it wasn’t much fun.
The graphics for the game are all cartoony hand drawings, but still quite imaginative and impressive. Lead artist Dan Paladin did an amazing job and the graphics actually give a cheery feel that keeps me playing. I really enjoyed the somewhat simple controls and gameplay and when a teammate loses all their life during a level you can revive them by performing CPR.
The game first time through isn’t too hard (can beat it in just a few hours), but when in hardcore the difficulty is far more challenging due to enemies dealing so much damage and swarming your character. Other than swarming, the only real complaint I have about the game is not being able to skip the end credits. After the fifth time it is a bit much.
Gunpoint is intriguing and entertaining, but its fun and comedy are fleeting, restricted by simplistic mechanics that lose their allure after only a couple hours. For those two hours, however, Gunpoint is one of the most downright satisfying and ridiculous puzzle games I have ever played.
The protagonist is a freelance spy who finds himself with gear that allows him to jump to and fall from great heights, as well as to climb walls. This spy is confronted immediately by a murder that is unexplained, but throughout the surprisingly well-written story, the murder is unfolded and eventually concluded. What makes the story interesting, however, is the interplay between two different firearms manufacturers who both have problems that only the spy can solve. The story is funny and fulfilling, and works well in conjunction with the gameplay.
The mechanics of the puzzles are fairly simple, but the puzzles themselves are often very difficult. Each puzzle is a building that must be infiltrated so that the spy might acquire information. The main systems in Gunpoint are super jumps and electronics rewiring. The game rewards the player with points and money for being stealthy and nonlethal, and the upgrades allow for greater variety in techniques for solving the puzzles. However, the game suffers from repetition. It is fun, but the novelty wears off after two hours. There is no real diversity in environment, and so the game becomes predictable.
The noir soundtrack is good if a little understated, tending to fade into the background. It is most prominently displayed in the menus, where it accompanies the story progression brilliantly. During the gameplay, however, it is simply somewhat bland and uninteresting spy music. There is a level editor in the game, which from what I have seen seems competent and possibly compelling.
This is a fun game. It is interesting for the two hours it takes to complete, and the story is worthwhile just for its humor. Although short and with its share of flaws, Gunpoint is a puzzle game with something special to share, something I strongly recommend. It is unique, and as such, it is worth playing.
Final Fantasy XIII is a console based RPG for the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360. It marks the start of the story of Lightning, a former soldier of Cocoon who is fighting her government so that she can save her sister who has been regarded as an enemy of Cocoon after she was marked by a fal’Cie. She quickly gains a band of allies, only for them all to be marked by the same fal’Cie as her sister and branded as enemies of Cocoon.
The games starts with the Purge, the killing of civilians that are believed to have come into contact with elements of Pulse, the world below that is heavily feared throughout Cocoon. It is here that you start to gain allies. The characters that you meet are a diverse bunch and are, for the most part, an excellent cast that will excite you and at times, infuriate you.
Just like in Final Fantasy VII players will be able to approach or avoid enemies who can be seen wandering around the areas of the game. Unlike in other Final Fantasy games where players find themselves roaming around miniature terrain, Final Fantasy XIII scales the environment relative to the characters in it and because of the graphic capabilities of the PS3 and Xbox 360 a lot more design was put into things such as the landscape, characters and even the tiniest of details like Lightning’s cape.
A new character advancement system, Crystarium, has been added into the game along with a customisable Paradigm system to control the roles of the group. The Crystarium determines what abilities you give to each different member and allows you to decide which roles you want to develop in them as well.
While Final Fantasy XIII is an amazing game with superb graphics and well cast characters the nature of it is too linear, especially in the first nine or ten chapters. The lack of the ability to free roam and interact with NPCs gives it less of a Final Fantasy feel. Also to get enough Crystarium to level up requires a lot of hours spent grinding so players quickly get bored.
You are a spirit waking up from a long slumber only to see a lifeless planet. Suddenly, four giants emerge from the ground. They will be your tools of creation (and destruction) giving you the possibility to make life thrive in the world before going dormant again. While there is no “campaign” in this game, you only have limited time in an Era to achieve your goals. Developing your planet in different directions unlocks new stuff so there’s an incentive for starting over again. A sandbox mode without a timer is also available.
The Ocean, Forest, Swamp and Desert Giants terraform, summon and upgrade natural sources, destroy people, boost fertility and so on. If a natural source is available on one of the main biomes, a settler founds a village and its people start collecting resources. As settlements are getting bigger they build projects with special requirements and a time limit. If completed, they give a resource boost and a unique specialization. An ambassador also appears and sits on the shoulder of a giant of your choice, unlocking a new ability.
Natural sources create symbioses with each other e. g. Chicken + Blueberry = more food, Quartz + Quartz = more wealth, etc. Upgrades not only add more resource to a site, this way you can also transmute a natural source into something completely different (Chicken -> Rabbit -> Deer), causing a change of resource income and symbioses to that particular site.
Prospering settlements become greedy which leads to war with other villages, or even attacking a giant. You may let humans to fight their battles or intervene, weakening or destroying an army. Riots against giants can be stopped by killing some of the population. To avoid this, you must be careful not to develop a village too fast and create sources providing danger and awe.
Visuals of Reus are charming. I like the 2D depiction of the planet as a circle and zooming in makes you discover many little details in the cartoon-like graphic design. Sound effects also bring life to the scenery.
Reus is more like an elaborate puzzle game than the classic god sim. It makes you think about maximizing the potential of resource combinations, while demanding constant attention. Its qualities are somewhat diminished by cumbersome gameplay but it’s a truly unique experience nonetheless.
With Deus Ex Eidos promised a great a deal and, as with all revivals of franchises that have lain untouched for numerous years, Eidos ran the risk of not attracting new players while alienating the old fan base. However Deus Ex: Human Revolution, the third installment in the Deus Ex series, is a magnificent game combining multi-path gameplay and an incredibly diverse set of augmentations catering to a wide number of play-styles.
Human Revolution is set in the year 2027 and centers around the player character Adam Jensen, an ex-SWAT member hired as security director for Sarif Industries, one of the leading companies producing human augmentations. The game opens with a terrorist attack on Sarif Industries resulting in Jensen being gravely wounded and Megan, lead scientist and ex-girlfriend of Adam Jensen, being supposedly killed. Jensen is spared death through extensive modifications provided by Sarif Industries; six months later he is called back in to deal with a hostage situation in one of Sarif Industries production plants. In doing so Jensen discovers a conspiracy spanning the globe taking Jensen from Detroit all the way to futuristic Shanghai.
Deus Ex provides players with an opportunity to play their way, with an impressive upgrade tree players can charm, sneak or fight their way past difficult situations. Augmentations grant player the abilities to hack turrets or even turn invisible, other augmentations open up new ways through levels, like increasing Jensen’s jump height or allowing him to punch through some walls make replaying this game a must.
While I can wholeheartedly recommend this game it still has its problems, most notably the boss fights. These boss fights are notoriously difficult for characters not built for the open combat and can be a real turn off from the game. The games graphics are not really memorable but have a distinctive colour scheme and level design perfectly portraying a dystopian future earth, however with the director’s cut of human revolution claiming to fix the boss fights and adding updated textures no longer being a Wii U exclusive being set to release later this year it could be a second life for this amazing game.
All in all Human Revolution is not perfect but for fans of RPGs with deep, meaningful upgrade systems Deus Ex Human Revolution is a must have.