Archive for July, 2013
When Bethesda comes to mind, you might think of huge worlds ready to explore, choices and their consequences and a game experience that sucks you in and doesn’t let go. Fallout 3 is no exception. Set in a post-apocalyptic America ravaged by nuclear war, Fallout 3 is the story of your character’s journey through The Capital Wasteland, formerly Washington DC before the nuclear war that has destroyed the landscape.
Bethesda’s vision of the future is bleak, humbling and strangely quite beautiful, truly capturing the devastation while managing to present variation in humanity’s attempts to salvage a civilisation from the wreckage. From Vault 101 to Megaton, Rivet City to the Republic of Dave, Fallout portrays the effects of the catastrophe and humanity’s attempts at salvation impeccably. The drab graphics may get repetitive after a while but, come on, what did you expect from a nuclear wasteland?
The level of choice on offer to players is also staggering. Player interactions with other characters have the potential to vastly influence the rest of the world, with different choices coming with different perks and consequences. Your actions, good or bad, ultimately determine how the rest of the world views and responds to you, measured by your overall Karma rating which is affected by how good or bad your decisions are. Which direction you take is naturally up to you.
Fallout’s soundtrack is another immensely enjoyable factor of the game. News travels fast in The Capital Wasteland, with many of your actions, good or bad, being reported by Three Dog, the affable DJ from Galaxy News Radio. If there is a more likeable radio DJ in gaming, I have yet to find him. It’s also hard not to find yourself eventually singing along to the jazz and swing music on offer from his station. Though at times the music seems inappropriately at odds with the harsh, violent environment, the two complement each other beautifully.
I could write volumes on this game but all you need to know for now is that Fallout 3 is fantastic, with a vastly enjoyable story, characters and soundtrack.
In 2000, Counter-Strike was released and became one of the highest rated multiplayer shooters ever. 2004 saw the return of the game with Counter-Strike: Source. By 2012, the series was almost forgotten since games like Call of Duty and Battlefield have taken over the genre. While in my opinion, this might not have been the best time to release a remake of Counter-Strike, Valve still pulled it off by making one of the best HD remakes of recent memory. Not only is Global Offensive crazy fun, but gameplay-wise, it hasn’t changed a bit and that’s what makes it so great.
In this day and age, first-person shooters all have sprinting, iron sights, and a bunch of twelve year-old gamers with bad mouths. Global Offensive does away with these things and in turn, challenges us in a different way.
Unlike most FPSs, CS: GO is very balanced. Every time you die, you’ll know you deserved it. When I get a kill, I feel much more accomplished than I ever did in Call of Duty. This game is about skill and strategy. In CoD, you kill a guy when you see him, but here, that’s the gateway to getting killed a lot. You need to evaluate every situation before you attack. Otherwise, you might just find yourself at the bottom of the scoreboards. If you want to succeed in this game, you’ll need to learn that every weapon is a good weapon. Whether you’re toting a small pistol, an SMG, or just a knife, you’ll always have a good chance of winning.
As this is a remake, there have been some changes. Obviously, the graphics are much better this time around, but I never found myself actually saying “Wow” or anything. The visuals are impressive, considering the Source Engine is so old, but again, they’re not stunning. Also, a few new maps have been added to extend the list which is definitely a needed addition.
Overall, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive a great remake and a refreshing game. Whether on PC, Xbox 360, or PlayStation 3, CS: GO is guaranteed to please.
From PopCap Games comes another great strategy/tower defense Xbox live arcade game. Plants vs. Zombies is one of the best games I have had the pleasure of playing in a while. The zombies are after your brains and your main defense is a bunch of plants. Starting off in adventure mode, you are introduced Crazy Dave and the tutorial.
The tutorial begins with one lane in which you are able to plant, but that is perfect since you only have one plant available, the peashooter. After the first stage of the tutorial, you are given more lanes and in case the zombies eat all your plants a lawnmower protects each lane. When a zombie reaches the lawnmower, it starts and mows down every zombie that is currently in that lane. The lawnmower is a one use per stage item.
Crazy Dave is a little odd and says some of the most off-the-wall comments I’ve ever heard, but he is here to help and to sell you things. Completing each stage rewards you by unlocking something, these items are range from more plants to Crazy Dave’s car keys so he can open shop out the back of his car to other modes. With only fifty stages (ten stages per level and five levels) the other modes are a welcome sight. My only complaint would be the difficulty of some of the mini-games, or what I would call mini-modes. An example of a fun and easy mini-mode is having zombies in an aquarium that give you sunlight used to buy more zombies, you feed them little brains from time to time, and the objective is to save up 2000 sunlight.
Be warned that the stages take some time to beat. The game is fun and action-packed that hours can pass by unnoticed. PopCap did an awe inspiring job with this game. The controls are perfectly simple, the music is delightful, and the humor ranges from blatant Crazy Dave randomness to subtle puns sprinkled throughout the game. The cartoon-like graphics are great and quite detailed, giving the game a lighthearted tone.
All in all, Plants vs. Zombies for the Xbox 360 is one of the best games I have played in a long time, and I will continue to play for a long time.
After long last, Deadpool has finally received his own game. Deadpool is the crazy, misogynistic, merc with the mouth from the Marvel Universe. The game goes above and beyond what makes Deadpool great. Unfortunately, this comes at a detriment to gameplay, content, and overall polish.
The story revolves around Deadpool attempting to make his own video game. However, much like Deadpool’s mind, this game makes no sense. This is due, in large part, to Deadpool tearing up the game’s script within the first chapter. The main story is just there to allow for that off the wall Deadpool humor. This merc with the mouth is not the only voice inside his head, he is joined by two different voices that provide consistent, and hilarious banter.
A slew of other characters appear in the game to either fight or aid Deadpool, and while many will require a Marvel scholar to identify, some, such as Wolverine, are popular enough characters for any player to recognize. Constantly breaking the fourth wall, making sexist comments, and acting like an overall deranged lunatic, Deadpool is represented perfectly in his game.
Despite such a fantastic single player story, Deadpool leaves a lot to be desired in gameplay. Melee combat feels solid, if not slightly generic, and while gunplay is not exactly polished, it is functional. Everything works well enough here, but bland level design, and the miniscule amount of enemy types detract from the overall experience. The graphics are poor with muddy textures. On top of all that, the game is about seven hours long with only throwaway challenge modes afterwards.
The sound work is another high note for this title. The voiceover by Nolan North is absolutely incredible and he is now, more than ever, the voice of Deadpool. The soundtrack to Deadpool is complementary to the environments, and though it does not stand out, it doesn’t get in the way.
High Moon Studios has done a commendable job with Deadpool’s first video game. It is just unfortunate that they could not polish the gameplay up to the level of the character they brought to life.
The complete, definitive zombie game is something developers have tried to create for years. Objectively it looks quite easy; mix a bit of action and horror with similar amounts of fear, survival and genuine danger, and sprinkle liberally with gore. Many games have tried this and none have been perfect, however reading State of Decay’s description filled me with hope. Construction, gore, horror, survival and phases of genuine messy pants fear, SoD does seem to tick all of the boxes.
The one thing you need to know before starting to play State of Decay is that it’s hard. Not insanely, smash-your-TV hard, but hard enough to make you struggle for whatever rewards you can scrape together. It’s made even harder because of two terrible words that seem to follow me around zombie games. Permanent Death. The moment a character you’ve spent hours levelling and equipping with the latest in zombie killing tech is overrun, and takes that one final hit, your heart just falls out, but even this, in a way, makes the game even more fun, because it adds a new level of danger to it, and makes the zombies genuinely scarier.
Unfortunately it’s downhill from there. While the graphics and sounds are in no way bad, they cannot be described as brilliant. There’s enough variation and detail in the character models and designs to give them each an individual personality, but not enough for any one of them to be outstanding. The dialog is quite repetitive, but informative enough early on to let you know what you are doing, and easy enough to ignore as the game progresses. The textures and colours of the game are quite bland, and later on I found myself really quite bored by everything being brown.
Overall State of Decay is a great game, and would be well worth a full release price… but that’s the best bit! SoD is an Xbox Live Arcade title that is sold at a price of 1600MS (around £13.50/$20) which is an absolute steal for what is, overall, a very good game, and one I would heavily recommend playing.