Archive for August, 2008

Nearly time to crash castles!

August 26, 2008

The excitement! Both myself and Kev have been eagerly awaiting this title for the past year. It’s so close I can almost taste the exaggerated comically humorous deaths! Be sure the check out the free dashboard theme and gamerpics tomorrow.

Expect our review in the coming days.

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Fable II Pub Games – Reviewed

August 26, 2008

A lot of smaller sections in large games get overlooked. Take western RPGs for example. There may be some sort of gambling mini-game, in which you can win big or lose big. The problem is, because these games are so vast and feature so many other ways (and quite possibly, better ways) to earn currency, these smaller diversions often go unnoticed. But what if the smaller game was the entire game?

That’s what Fable II Pub Games is. A vertical slice of Fable II, a sampling of one element. The gambling element. Pub Games is a good idea for number of reasons. It helps keep the main game in the media spot and helps tide fans over till release. Obviously, it makes Lionhead a nice cash bonus but most interestingly however, it forces players who want in on Fable action early to focus their attention on these smaller, otherwise overlooked mini-games. It’s a very clever form of marketing and it’s a very clever way of ensuring most players experience your game in the fullest way possible.

So the actual games themselves. One is excellent, two are merely good. Fortune’s Tower is the stand out game of the bunch, a card game of chance and luck, in which you can either take the current dealers offer or press on in an attempt to win more cash. Keystone, an interesting spin on roulette (lol) where the game ends when certain parts of the board fall apart due to certain dice rolls. And finally, Spinnerbox. A take on slot machines and a frustrating one at that. Luck plays a large part in every game, as it is gambling after all, but there’s some skill and strategy to found in Fortune’s Tower and Keystone. The same cannot be said for Spinnerbox. It is 100% luck based which means it’s incredibly irritating and becomes tedious very very quickly.

If you make a profit during your gambling escapades, you’ll have the opportunity to bring that gold into Fable II on release. You’re also able to win items that can only be found in Pub Games by placing high in tournaments.

It’s difficult to say with certainly whether Pub Games is worth the 800 points it’s being sold for. It’s certainly enjoyable and the opportunity to begin your adventure in Fable II with some extra cash is an appealing one. It simply boils down to whether you’ll like Fable II or not. Unfortunately there’s no way of knowing that right now but it’s fairly safe to say if you enjoyed the first game, you’ll enjoy the sequel. Just don’t get yourself into debt, or you’ll have the loansharks performing the traditional loanshark ritual, of leg breaking.

[7]

The low down on download

August 25, 2008

Remember that new game smell? the unwrapping of the plastic seal, the little leaflets jammed inside that you mearly glanced at. Would you miss all that if it were no more?

I’ve no doubt “full” retail games will be around for a long time yet, but it is scary to think that in the summer of 2008 I’ve spent more cash and interest on downloadable games then I have time spent in smelly game stores.

So why is this? well for starters, the summer months are pretty bloody awful for retail games. For money making reasons game company’s like to release all of their games at the end of the year, at the same damn time. So while the end of year is an amazing time for us gamers to try and rush through all our games, staying on top of the “cool food chain” by showing up on outr friends list as playing the “in” game at the time, it makes for a lonely hot summer playing over old hat. There is however a change in the current thanks to the power of the interwebs. Because unlike 20 billion dollar retail games, smaller game company’s like Pixel Junk can put a game together in a few months and because they’re cutting out the middle man, can put the game up pretty soon after it’s finished.

So what games are worth checking out? well, Live Arcade and PSN both have a decent catalogue of games already at their disposable, but this summer really saw both services spike with great content.

Geometry Wars 2

One of the first games to kick of the summers blockbuster downloadable games was Geometry Wars 2. The first game was described as the XBox 360’s “Halo” in terms of a launch game, so no pressure for Bizarre to deliver an even better sequel then.

While the game stays very true to it’s big brothers roots (move with the left stick, shoot with the right) it’s the 6 new modes that set it apart. Along with the integrated friends leader boards, improved visuals and offline multiplayer, for 800 points there is alot of game here for your buck.

Pixeljunk Eden

When ‘Pixel Junk’ released their first game on PSN ‘Pixel Junk Racers’ nobody would ever have thought a few months later they’d go ahead and release a game solely about swinging around the garden of eden.

PixelJunk Eden, the company’s third PSN game to date sees you playing as a “Grimp”, a small creature that maneuvers itself by jumping from and attaching itself to plant-like structures. While that sounds easy, it’s the Pixel (¬ ¬) perfect swinging and jumping the game demands of you that creates the games challanges.

While the likes of Geo Wars 2 and Stardust HD both offer a more old school/traditional approach to downloadable games, Eden really is offering you something mind bendingly different.

The game is priced at €7.99 (£6) (a demo is also available)

Braid

Take Mario, add two table spoons of Prince of Persia, a bucket load of hardcore puzzle solving and you leave to cool.

Braid, this years ‘Portal’ apparently (then again, I’m hearing that alot these days) puts you in a platform world, gives you time controlling powers, and then rips away every bit of knowledge and skill you thought you ever had to play games. The game works similar to ‘Sands of Time’ in the way that, when you die you can reverse back time to correct your error. However, the game also uses time to have you perform the crazyest puzzle solving, jumping and leaping about you’ll ever have the pleasure of heart attack enduring.

Braid is not for everybody (And for 1200 points you’d better well like it) it is however, one of the most interesting and quirky downloadable games to hit the arcade. More of this please.

Castle Crashers

Developed by The Behemoth, ‘Castle Crashers’, is the company’s second console game. Having worked on ‘Alien Hominid’ they’ve returned with a 4 player side scroller, playable locally or over LIVE.

The game sees you take control one of four Knights, each with unique powers. If it’s anything like ‘The Behemoth’s’ previous work, Castle Crashers will offer a hardcore, but comic like experience.

The game launches this Wednesday on Live Arcade for 1200 points.

Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords – Reviewed

August 25, 2008

There are many genres in video gaming. First person shooters, platformers, music rhythm games, RPGs, and puzzlers are several of the most popular. However, the latter two need to be singled out for a specific reason; they remain very much unchanged since their conception.

Enter Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords. One brief glance at the game would lead you to believe it’s your standard take on the genre. Match three gems of the same colour to clear them from the playing field. In this sense, it is a fairly traditional puzzler except, it isn’t just a puzzler. It’s an RPG puzzler. A blend of two distinct and vastly different genres. It’s an unlikely match-up that works shockingly well in practise.

Each different coloured gem on the board corresponds to particular type of mana. Mana is used to cast different magic spells with can have a variety of different effects such as damaging your enemy or changing gems from one colour to another. Yes, enemy and yes, damage. Two concepts that are completely alien to the puzzle genre.

Let’s take a step back. There’s a large, beautifully hand drawn map to explore in the game. You visit towns and cities to obtain quests and to buy new equipment such as armour and swords. The puzzle aspect of the game doesn’t come into play until combat is initiated with an enemy. In order to defeat your opponent, you must reduce his health points to zero. This can be done through spells but more usually through matching three skulls, which take off a sizeable chunk of health. It sounds simple and at it’s base level, it is. Puzzle Quest is both straightforward and complex. You can play it the way you want. Strategically make moves and plan ahead or hope that luck will carry you through. The game can be played in both ways.

What is both a blessing and a curse of is the aforementioned aspect of luck. There’s a heavy reliance on luck, as it is a puzzle game and some aspects are just out of the player’s control. One battle may be over swiftly and easily and end in your favour while the next may result in a hammering. It’s certainly frustrating when your opponent manages an endless streak of luck and almost feels cheap at times.  It’s an aspect of the genre that needs to be accepted, no matter how many white hot moments of rage it may cause.

A breath of fresh air is quite possibly the most accurate way to describe Puzzle Quest. It successfully manages to blend two genres seamlessly and provides for a very enjoyable experience. Even if the computer tends to be a cheating fucker occasionally.

[8]

Team Fortress 2 – Why Snipers are a hated breed

August 25, 2008

You pull the tigger. You hear the shot. You see the splatter.