Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Halo 3: ODST

Halo ODST is the latest exploit of fanboy culture set between the events of Halo 2 and Halo 3. The story this time follows a group of ODST, also known as Orbital drop shock troopers who are dropped into Africa (Coincidentally setting up some of the events of Halo 3). Your main role is that of a Rookie ODST, a strong silent type, totally not an overused cliche in the gaming industry for the past ever...Sure. Whilst your main role is a Rookie ODST, aptly named "Rookie", you also take control of other members of the ODST, including Dutch, Romeo, Mickey and Buck all of who are pretty much a new weapon set (If you don't care for the story line). All of these characters are voiced by some big names; Adam Baldwin and Nathan Fillion to name only two; And the rest of the cast, well, I'm pretty sure the for the rest of the cast they just read names off the credits of Chuck and Firefly, not that it's a bad thing - I had a bit of a nerdgasm when I read Nathan Fillion was Buck and then when I heard Adam Baldwin was Dutch; My god - I had to change my pants several times.

The actual storyline within the game is based around the initial drop and how it manages to go tits up based on the actions of the new team leader "Dare", who is the "TROUBLED PAST WITH ANOTHER GUY IN THE TEAM" chick, who is blatantly going to cause problems for that team member when the most awkward time slot appears. After the initial drop, you are left scattered from your team in the city below after a Covenant battleship goes to warp, primarily fucking up everything for everyone. After quite an awesome intro, you're left to walk around the ruined city looking for clues and hints as to what the fuck just happened - And possibly "Where's Adam Baldwin? I bet he's doing something fucking awesome right now" You'd be correct in this presumption.

You pass through different ODSTs within the game, discovering different parts of the story and placing together pieces of the puzzle. But the one problem I found with the story was a lack of depth, I didn't feel enticed by the story like I should have done, not that the other Halo games have indepth stories, but they have enough story to keep me interested for extended periods of time, it was like the story didn't fit in with the Halo universe or like they figured less important characters of the Halo Universe didn't get as much plot depth.

Whilst this may seem like a little issue, I found that the Co-op within the game was frustrating, whilst the actual gameplay is fine, it actually frustrated me that they didn't implement Co-op characters into the game, which felt like a big step down from Halo 3's Arbiter and Master Chief thing that it had going on. I played through with my friend and it appears that Player one plays as what ever ODST you're playing as in the plot, whilst player 2 gets stuck with a basic Rookie; Which to start with makes sense as there aren't enough characters for player 2 to play as, but later in the game you get other characters travelling with you, but these are still controlled by AI, like I said, only a small problem.

Firefight mode is pretty much horde mode from Gears Of War; Which whilst fun - Is nothing in comparison to story mode, but none the less, it is a nice addition to what the game offers; In context of nice things that Halo 3 ODST offers, I'd like to throw out there the Halo 3 Multiplayer disk that comes with the game, which is fairly immense as it not only allows you to play Halo 3 online (If you didn't already have Halo 3) but it also gives you all Halo 3 DLC, which allows you to play online with everyone on every map, it also allows you into features such as theater and forge mode.

For those who have never played Halo 3 online; You have missed out - Whilst alot of people will slate and complain about the game, I always found it entertaining, especially with friends. The amount of hours of fun you can have with it is amazing, whether matchmaking; in which you randomly search for other players online at that current time to play a specific game type. Or of course on custom games, where you choose your map, friends, game type and play how ever you like - I personally found many hours of entertainment within the Zombie game type, in which you get a group of people, with one infected, the others have to escape the infected person who can only infect people by killing them. Generally speaking the first infected; Also known as the Alpha zombie has extra powers, such as higher jumps, more health or speed boasts. The game ends when everyone is infected or the time runs out, usually the person with the most kills is the winner.

In conclusion, I really recommend Halo 3 ODST to any fans of the series; That is if you haven't already picked it up - I also recommend this to any FPS fans in general, no matter how much you hate Halo 3, allow your mind to exclude Master Chief from this experience and merely enjoy it as "Halo; The Adam Baldwin experience"...Oh and the story mode is worth the few hours you'll get out of it, especially if you're like me and you enjoy wasting an entire night with a friend to complete Co-op FPS's.

8/10


Friday, 25 September 2009

Chocobo Tales

Chocobo Tales is personally one of the few mini-games based games that I can stand (Even If I do secretly hate It), this is probably due to the fact that I'm an outrageously dense Final Fantasy fan boy and I'll buy into anything that's branded Square/SquareEnix (Except when you bang in a series of 12 year old scene kids and Disney characters).
Chocobo Tales is mini-game based series; With two games within the series, but I'll be reviewing only the first one, as clearly the first Chocobo Tales was not good enough to inspire me to buy the sequel.
The game stars you as a Chibi Chocobo living within a small village with a bunch of other Chocobos, a black Mage and a girl; Which really didn't make much sense to me, but considering the ideal demographic of this game was 10 year olds that enjoy Kingdom Hearts, I had to reconsider my standards and work out that the plot wasn't the main selling point for this game, instead the chibi graphics and touch screen gimmick mini-games were.




The actual plot for the game is rather confusing, but does some how have a little charm which comes from the actual mini-games and how they're implemented within the game, within the medium of Children's stories and nursery rhymes; These are within books placed around the map that you can travel around, all with their own Final Fantasy version of the stories, such as Cactuar and Adamantoise/Turtle and The Hare, The boy who cried Leviathan/The boy who cried Wolf, etc.
For me, this is where the charm of the game stopped; I personally found the idea of playing these Mini-games a chore first time round, let alone the three or four extra times that you may have to play through on harder difficulties to unlock the next mini-game.




The game also features Micro-games, which are basically mini-games that have no real effect on the story and simply give you bonus items or cards (We'll get to the card system soon), these Micro-games are usually the most frustrating experience you'll ever have as they're usually 30-60 second long challenges, such as stopping at Adamantoise before it falls off a cliff, solving mini-puzzles and other such ridiculous tasks that you won't enjoy, but you'll find yourself playing through them because you know that you're only wasting a short amount of your life in doing so, which for some strange reason justifies it.

Another feature of the game is the card battle system; Which I guess somewhat qualifies this game as an RPG, but very loosely. With the card battle feature you have to use the cards that you've gathered from playing Micro and Mini-games within the main game, these can only be acquired from completing the games with high enough scores to qualify you for a gold or silver medal (Because apparently Bronze = fuck all; In fact, Bronze is so inadequate, that Square didn't even include a Bronze medal, merely a "Failure"), depending on the level of your medal, the more or higher quality card you get.

The actual card battling is one of the most boring RPG systems that I've ever taken part in; Whilst it is simple, it's boring and really doesn't do the Final Fantasy series and justice - A series known for it's RPG talent - And whilst you may argue that Chocobo Tales is not a main part of the Final Fantasy series, it is still under the development of Square and should therefore; You know - Be atleast bearable to play.
It has you using cards that you've gathered against bosses that only appear a few times in the game, which to me destroys the entire point of an RPG, especially considering you spend 80% of the game gathering these cards to battle with and in the end only actually battle with them about ten times throughout the entire game.

As stated before, it's only defining feature are the way that mini-games are presented to you, which to me doesn't qualify the need to pay £40 for; I honestly struggle to accept this game as anything except a rather small collection of mini-games that doesn't quite know what it wants to be; Another mediocre RPG on the market, a small mini-game collection or a rather pitiful Trading card game - It was as if Square put together a rather poor quality RPG, answering only fan service by placing a Chocobo as the main character, then realised that the game lacked any depth and any depth that it did has was wasted on 10 year olds; So they threw in some basic mini-games and a card system and BAM~! Some more money into the big pot of Gil.

And as a Final Fantasy fan, I honestly felt this didn't answer my fan service needs; Which presumably was the entire point of this game series? Where were the other critters that we all love within the Final Fantasy series? Mogs/Moogles weren't there - And if there were any that I missed in my IN DEPTH play through of this mini-game collection with a pitiful story, then they weren't a large enough part..Or had really bad sprites?

As a round up of Chocobo Tales; I'd say buy it if you're REALLY into Final Fantasy - And I mean - REALLY, REALLY into Final Fantasy. Or of course If you enjoyed the other parts of the series or you're really into Mini-games; But be warned, If you're really into Mini-games, then perhaps it's best to pick up Mario Party or another mini-game series.

4/10

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Media within the Video game industry?

Media within the Video game industry
Introduction
Recently I've been considering how the media industry could be used effectively in the video game industry; And by this, I mean more effectively than your monthly magazines or Internet blogs.
Media is a BIG industry, covering some of the most important inventions that formed and shaped our current life styles and cultures; TV, Radio, Magazines and the internet. All of these sources are viable sources of information and media, but only two are really used effectively in the form of video game press coverage; Magazines and the Internet, which whilst both are important and extremely effective forms of press coverage, what about the other two forms of media? I'm going to concentrate this article (Which is written and published on the internet) on the advantages, disadvantages and the general idea of video game press coverage on the Radio.

The Market
The Video game industry has grown a lot since It was first created, it's potential as a selling point for radio journalism has only grown within the past few years since online gaming really took off, allowing gamers to game online not only on their PCs, but on their Xbox360s, PS3s and even their Wiis. And whilst the PC scene would be the place to aim Video game based radio, Microsoft and Sony's online services could also be exploited to provide gamers with online radio through their console.

Working with the market
The idea of a Video game based Radio station would be to provide not only music based around the tastes of gamers, but to also allow journalists to get their reviews out to gamers in an audio form, something which has become quite big since the creation of Pod casts and Voice blogs online.
Getting the radio station out there to gamers could be a challenge as gamers are possibly the most awkward market to work with, each gamer wanting to specify their tastes and take a choice on either this or that, Horde or Alliance, Good or bad, Microsoft, Sony or Nintendo and even in their Pokemon adventures.
Whilst most people would see this as a disadvantage to work with, it would merely require a rival in the market to get gamers taking sides, something that would be acquired within months If the Station could get enough popularity and income to keep open whilst others followed in trend opening up similar radio stations.
Gamers can be swung round by merely having people they can relate to run things that they enjoy; This can be seen within the video game industry with prime examples being Gabe Newell, Peter Molyneux, Cliff Bleszinski, Hideo Kojima and Goichi Suda who'm all present themselves to their audiences by putting themselves out there and saying "Hey, I'm just like you" And charming gamers round to their side - And whilst the more logical gamer would nay say upon this and say that it is merely a marketing scheme (Which it is) it's an effective one and one that could assure future products to succeed.

The actual Product
The actual Radio Station would be available over a series of methods including; DAB, Ipods, Phones, the internet and your gaming console's dashboard.
Presenting the station on Ipods, phones and DAB may seem pointless seeing as the product would be aimed at gamers currently gaming, but it would also cover those gamers that are desperate to keep up with their gaming or gamers that are merely fans of the show or music which is played.
Whilst DAB, Ipods and phones would cover a small part of the market, the main point of this station would be to apply to those gamers that are currently gaming, which makes the PCs, Xbox360s and PS3s perfect. They would allow the radio station to be streamed whilst gaming, taking up very little RAM, the same would go for the PC version, a down loadable client would be made available allowing gamers to run the station with very little RAM taken up, it would also be compatible with Steam and Xfire ideally.

How would the product start off
The Station would start small, very small; Possibly with two to four presenters with a weekly line up of interviews, music catered to gamer's tastes, requests, shout outs, competitions, reviews and press event coverage - All of which would hopefully appertain to gamers.
Soon after official sponsors would hopefully be interested if enough attention was brought to the station, allowing the station to be presented over Microsoft's and Sony's online dashboard.
Hopefully getting the MMORPG crowds onboard as a lot of MMORPG-ers require background noise and such when on the low leveling periods of games, perhaps the higher level based activities would not want radio playing in the background, but of course there's always time outside of the raid.
FPS gamers would also be an effective crowd to get on board, which would be a challenge as anyone could see that with a little research, that FPS gamers are the most awkward people to entertain as there will always be a sense of elitism with any FPSer, the same can be said for RTSers and possibly fanatical MMORPGs, this means that you would really have to grab their attention and have something there to keep them all interested, such as a feature that would apply to all of them.

Conclusion
In conclusion; There is a LARGE slot in the marketplace for Radio stations that are made for gamers that are successful and that apply to gamer's tastes.
There would be plenty of challenges in setting up such a station such as difficulty in gamer's tastes and how much different game genre players all have highly different tastes, but I still believe it is humanly possible to get something like this going with just the right amount of will power and luck behind you.

Who knows, give it 10 years and I might be looking back at this and saying "Wow, I sure was wrong"

Thursday, 17 September 2009

+10 To Blogging Skills. Issue 1.

Hey-Hey, welcome to my first blog/newsletter. This is something I've wanted to try out for a while, I've been a big follower of video games for a lifetime now and I've always had a passion for them and journalism based around them - So here we are, my first shot at this, excuse my awful writing, lets just hope that I increase in skill over time.


Hey there gamers; Are you excited? We've nearly reached Q4 of the year, which means the biggest, baddest, most kick ass games of the year are just under one month away~! But I'll cover that when we get there, for now - This week's gaming news~!
Kicking us off is the American release of Scribblenauts for DS; A game I've personally been waiting ages to play since I saw the first footage of it back at E3; You can find my P/review on it here
It's a fab game and has it's European release date set to October 9th.
Another DS hit came out just recently in Japan; Pokemon Soul Silver and Heart Gold, both remakes of the classic games set in the Johto region, I got my hands on a Japanese version earlier this week and I'm still playing around with it (And roughly trying to guess what everyone's saying in Japanese). The game really gives you the classic feeling that the originals had - And as a HUGE fan of the original Johto region based games, that's a pretty big pair of shoes to fill. It has it's release date for both America and Europe as "Spring 2010" and I can assure you I'll be buying this on day one.

Brutal Legend has received a new trailer; Which features presumably the first opening cut scene from the game; The trailer can be seen here
Whilst on the subject of Brutal Legend, any one across the pond that pre-ordered Brutal Legend will have exclusive access to a demo containing an entire 'chapter' of the game.

Good news for PS3 owners; Fallout 3 DLC is coming to you soon~! Bethesda has confirmed that Broken Steel will be available on the 24th September, Operation Anchorage and The Pitt will be released on the 1st of October, which will be followed by Point Lookout and Mothership Zeta on October 8th; Presumably these will be released as disks available in shops and online? Also the GOTY edition will be out soon, including all DLC and the original game, probably retailing at about £30 - £40/$40 - $50.

Another update in the Love VS Activision case; According to the blogs that I've been reading recently, Jon Bon Jovi has spoken to the BBC about the whole ordeal and is apparently in favour of Love in this case; even if we do all agree she's bat shit crazy and probably fucked off her head 99% of the time; You can't help but feel that Activision probably did fuck around with the contract and took liberties, I only say this because I looked into stories about it - And the fact that both Jon Bon Jovi and Dave Grohl, two musicians that I greatly respect back Courtney Love up, seems odd. Perhaps it's because I prefer Harmonix greatly, mainly for their awesome DLC and games - But because they seem to be real people rather than business men I guess.
In other music game related news; Pink Floyd are allegedly interested in creating a Rock Band/Guitar hero game - I personally can't see it; Perhaps because I'm not a fan of Pink Floyd - And probably because I hate the idea of Harmonix creating more "Rock band -Band name here-" games; I was kinda sick with the idea of a Beatles game, I'd have liked the idea of Beatles DLC, but the idea that they have to release another entire game just frustrates me - I follow Harmonix for a reason, and that reason is because they're not Activision, I'd like to keep it that way.
Oh~ And this week's Rock Band DLC contains both Rock your socks off and Tribute by Tenacious D
As well as some Metal tracks by Anvil, some indie rock from Dinosaur Jr. and classic rock from The Guess Who.

That sums up this week's big gaming stories - Hopefully you enjoyed this and HOPEFULLY I'll be doing this again this time next week.
Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Scribblenauts

This week I'll be reviewing Scribblenauts, which received an American release earlier this week and has a European release set for October 9th.
Scribblenauts is somewhat of a ground breaking idea in the gaming industry, it allows the gamer to take control of what they want to do, spawning creatures, weapons, vehicles, buildings, deities and even Internet memes, sadly it's limitations are drawn as to how all of the weird creatures react with each other, generally speaking it's just a "Kill, run away, watch or ignore", but even with such limitations you are offered a lot of fun merely in the way you spawn things, a prime example of this would be if you were to spawn a Werewolf and then a Man - the Werewolf would attack the Man and upon hitting him, turn him into a Werewolf, the same thing would happen with a Zombie and a Man. I also found out that people will interact with instruments, which then lead to me forming a little (Somewhat useless) band, where no one played their instrument at the same time and apparently the drummer required other people to hit his drum kit.



Scribblenauts does allow you to play around with lots of things though, it has a built in dictionary which contains over 22,000 words, of course there are some repeats such as simple things like box and crate, items that are too similar to be able to define - Or at least, worth bothering to define.
The aspect of the game that really attracted me was the idea of messing around and seeing what words they'd included; Back when they started showing videos of footage with God fighting a Kraken I was obviously interested, my interests were perked even more when someone showed me a video of Rick Astley popping up out of nowhere, doing a little dance and exploding - This was followed by footage of LongCat and TacGnol fighting; This of course lead to my first experience on Scribblenauts seeing how many internet memes they'd included - I can personally certify that Longcat, Rickroll, TacGnol, Ceiling cat, keyboard cat, Leeroy Jenkins, All your base are belong to us, Over 9000 and a bunch of other Caturday cats are included within the game.



The actual main aspect of the game isn't ACTUALLY dossing around and playing with the engine; It's more about puzzles, with 220 levels based over 10 themes, all of which rate you upon how many moves it takes you to finish that puzzle. These puzzles can range from anything from getting past a witch that you aren't allowed to hurt to saving a Lumberjack from a forest. Within these puzzles you have the entire 22,000+ words to play with and to help solve the puzzles - The problem with this is you can spawn some ridiculous items to cheat through the levels; I personally found that when ever your task is to kill something, you simply spawn a black hole and watch them get sucked into, which always works as long as there isn't anything valuable around the thing you need to kill.

The graphics within the game are not especially impressive, but the game's engine and gameplay make up for that, and whilst I'd like to defend the game based on how much fun it is, the graphics really do bug me, I'd have been much more happy with this game If they'd have been a LITTLE more attractive and whilst they are quite cute and do look like they've been drawn by a seven year old with a little bit of talent, they lack something; And whilst I don't think the graphics should have been amazing, I'd have liked a little more form to the sprites.



Another issue I found with the game is restriction on how much you could spawn within the free play mode. At one point I went to spawn a group of Zombies, a shotgun, a helpless child and a chainsaw, but 5 Zombies in and I'd pretty much hit my limit this lead to many tears, but I still ripped some Zombie's a new one.



All in all the game is highly entertaining and you'll find yourself sitting and playing with the sandbox mode more than the puzzle mode, I doubt you'll even want to play through the entire puzzle mode, I know I sure as hell didn't. As much as I'd like to say "DAY ONE PURCHASE, GO, GO, GO!" I'd be misleading you, wait for it to hit the bargain buckets and get it cheap, it's worth it for the Sandbox and possibly the puzzle mode If you're REALLY into puzzle games.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Why Zombies?

Rather than reviewing a game this time round; I decided I'd try my best to analyze what's going on with gaming patterns at the moment in the industry - This of course means, I'll be talking about the somewhat sudden Zombie obsession that we've all grown to love.
Zombies games have been around for a looooong time; Whether you'd consider spanning back to "Help! Zombies ate my neighbours" Or whether you'd like to keep it to the survival genre that really started with Silent Hill, Resident Evil and Alone in the dark back in the days when the 3D era was just spawning.

Survival Horror of the early 90's? I really doubt it.


I honestly don't think 8-Bit or 16-Bit games really started the obsession we have with Zombies nowadays, but who knows, they might have been what inspired developers to love Zombies, chances are it was the older Zombie films that inspired the darker, scarier survival horror games; films such as George Romero's Dawn of the dead and Day of the dead (Both of these films having a lot of influence within Dead Rising; A Zombie beat 'em up set within a shopping Mall in Colorado.).



But Zombie games have moved on within the series, to begin with survival horror games were played by fans of Horror films, but it seems that times have moved on and everyone and their mothers are playing Horror games, perhaps not Survival Horror games, but the market for Survival Horror has definitely be enlarged by games such as Left 4 Dead, Dead Rising and Call Of Duty 5; These games - Whilst still supplying the gamer with a certain amount of fear, also take away the factor of fear, because you know that you are ALWAYS within your power to go Evil Dead on some of those Undead Bitches.



Some people might try to blame our love for killing Zombies on some paranoid, sub-conscious Apocalypse syndrome - The fear that we'll all become brain eating, undead cadavers; These are generally the same people that blame wars on Call of Duty and paedophilia on Pokemon games and the such.
I guess I can understand where they're coming from in one angle, I'm not too keen on the idea of being eaten by the living dead, but I wouldn't consider my love for Left 4 Dead as training against the relentless Zombie horde. I honestly think we just play along with Zombie games just because we either love the genre of horror or just enjoy the idea of blasting meaningless dead bodies to pieces.

It seems that when developers want to make anything scary within the video game industry, they add some dark lighting and groaning sound effects and we're all shaking like a shitting poodle and this isn't just within the horror genre of gaming; Everyone is doing it - Fallout, Fable, Half-Life (Props to Half Life for being fairly early with their Zombie stuff), Call of Duty, Time Splitters - I could go on.
I honestly think the fear that games such as Silent Hill and Resident Evil inspired this binge that we're currently having, not that it's a bad thing, but It's been a long time in the works - And it wasn't properly initiated until the latest generation of gaming, when developers must have realised "Whoa, hold the phone..We can fit a lot more than five Zombies on screen at once" And thus games such as Dead Rising and Left 4 Dead were spawned, both expecting a sequel Q4 of this year.



Frank West. He's covered wars ya' know?


Resident Evil and Silent Hill were both here for the rise of 3D gaming, it was all new to us, giving developers an opportunity to make those previously 2D scary monsters, somewhat life like and 3D.
The only fear we could possibly gain from the previous generations would just be something bigger than us, which whilst scary, was boring after several years of "Ofuck. A giant something or the other", course; whilst survival horror delivered scary in a more subtle way, it was never afraid of playing the "Giant bastard" card, which was not only scary, but possibly pant changing scary.

This bastard haunted my dreams for years.


This all leads me to the conclusion that we've got a few years left on the Zombie train; course there will be Zombie games once the bandwagon has been abandoned, but I'm doubting it will ever be as big as what we've got right now.
I guess the real question is "What's next?" Who knows - Maybe developers are already in preparation; I personally highly doubt that, they are probably all too busy trying to pop in a instant-cash Zombie game right now.
Perhaps we'll move onto Aliens; games such as Halo and Resistance tried pushing the whole "KILL THE ALIENS~!" thing - Sad thing was, they both did it so well that they annihilated any competition and thus didn't really spawn a new video game enemy.
Maybe Robots next? It's a weird one that no one's ever really touched on, probably for the best - I don't fancy a series of B-movie based "KILLER ROBOTS FROM MARS~!" games.

Friday, 31 July 2009

Maple Story

So this time round I decided i'd review something a little less serious - And by that, I mean free; So, bring on the MMORPGs!
With alot of talk about Maple Story floating around, what with their new Cygnus update and events being put out left right and center, it seemed some what themed and accurate.

Maple Story is a tricky one to get your head round, to start off with, you'd expect it's main fan base to be retro loving video gamers - Or "Sad bastards" as most of the world calls them, well, you'd be wrong, once more another Korean made MMORPG that's dominated by a shitty user base determined to ruin everyone's fun by putting "PINOY" or "AZN63423411" in their name - And it doesn't matter what version you're playing, even the European version is full of "PINOYSXY111"; It really baffles me.

The actual main essence of Maple Story is a 2D side scroller beat 'em up, which personally interests me as one of those "Sad bastards" that I previously mentioned - And Maple Story stays true to it's roots, with the exception of a Trading card game thrown in that no one actually bothers playing, but Maple Story's main issue doesn't come from it's genre - It comes from it's ridiculous amount of grinding that's needed. No matter how you try and defend it (Trust me, i've tried) you cannot escape the fact that most of the game is based on "Kill 5000000 Tree stumps and receive 10 Exp" Because the grinding; whilst shitty, is not the main problem in the big Maple Story issue, it's the fact that you get fuck all in return for collecting 400 Shiney dragon wings or what ever item Nexon have you lovingly collect for several hours.
A prime example of this would be the "Kill 999 Green mushrooms" You kill that many of them - And get bugger all experience; Which you might try to defend by saying "But killing 999 Green mushrooms would get you enough experience, based on the actual killing experience" Well, once more you'd be wrong, not only are the stupidly long quests worthless, but 99% of the monsters give bugger all experience anyway; So you find yourself either grinding party quests or finding that one monster that gives half decent experience and grinding on that some more!

I guess what i'm trying to say is; Not only is Maple Story's experience scale fucked from here to high buggery, but the only fun to come from the game is grinding Party quests - In which you stand in a room for 10 minutes screaming "J > PQ" until you get a party; And then once you do, you wait til "AznMage67462198" decides that it's time to go "AFK" and you end up waiting another 10 minutes until they come back; In which 50% of the time they never do - And within those 50% - 49% of them always have an item that the party needs to move onto the next part of the level, so you always then end up doing it again - So after a three hour wait, you've just gotten 5% - AND THIS IS AT LEVEL 40 - REMEMBER, THE LEVELS GO UP TO 200! (And last I checked only a few members have ever reached that).



So from what you've read you'll be sitting there saying
"But Capn, why is the game so popular?"
And i'd have to reply with
"Fucked if I know" - And then i'd immediately go "BRB" and head onto Maple Story to grind some more, because no matter how I try to slag this game off, I keep going back, it's addictive, charming, fun and somewhat 'epic'.
It's latest update will have you transforming yourself into a Knight who has to save the Emperess from a black mage; This personally has me interested again and i've started another character as a Cygnus Knight! And I am personally excited to experience all of the "expansion pack".
One thing that you really can't slate in Maple Story is the amazing surroundings - Whilst I realise most of us have moved onto 3D nowadays, Maple Story really can pull off some beautiful surroundings; The background of Kerning City is a favourite of mine, just because it actually pulls off a industrial evening feeling to it - And the background music really does add atmosphere if you're willing to accept it. Maple Story is something you've got to wanna do, you can't just slip into it like you can with other MMOs, this requires your personal input to work.



All in all; Maple Story is fun - And there's no denying it, it's free, addictive and whilst most might complain about heavy grinding, you get used to it some what and if you play with friends then it's no problem - So just remember, don't be a loser and play alone and you'll be fine.
Unless you're made of pure endurance, then feel free to experience more grinding than any other MMORPG known to mankind.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Lord Of The Rings Conquest review - 80%

Do you lay awake at night wondering if a Balrog could kick ten shades out of Treebeard..? I know I sure as hell did - Until I went out and bought Lord Of The Rings Conquest, which not only answered that question for me, but several other Lord Of The Rings based questions; Such as "How far can I ACTUALLY toss a dwarf?" and of course "Can I pass?".

Lord of the Rings Conquest drops you into the roll of a generic soldier on the battlefield, with a choice of what kind of infantry you are, your choice consists of:
Warrior - Does what he says on the tin really; As a warrior you pretty much just run in and stab people, which to be honest gets a little boring, especially since the melee in this game is god awful. I felt it was kind of a "Whoever hits first wins" Which is kinda true, once you knock someone down as a warrior, you can just beat them again before they have a chance to stand up; Which can only be stopped by using a special move that only heroes have. What i'm trying to say is, if you play this game, avoid the warrior like the plague, unless you're taking down a big target, such as a Ent or Cave Troll.
Next you've got the Scout; Which is another melee class; So once more, really only kinda useful against taking out big targets and heroes, but only because the scout has a special move where he can one hit anyone - So as you can imagine, he's whored out when it comes to online gameplay.
Archer is up next - I found the archer to be rather enjoyable and spent most of the time playing as him.
They have an advantage on long range attacks and can also down large targets by simply spamming their main three skills from a distance, but none the less, an enjoyable class, but a pain the arse when it comes to online play.
And finally there's mage, I started off hating the mage, but grew to love it as I played through the game. To begin with, I wasn't sure how to play mage, but it's all about blocking the enemy from getting to you, using this spell that creates an area of fire that burns the enemy if they walk through - And then to spam electric attacks whilst they walk through the fire; This works on both smaller and larger targets, so mage seems the best class to play - Unless you want to do some long ranged killing.

In essence, the gameplay really isn't varied and the only variation throughout the game comes with what ever class you play, which is probably why the game was so dissapointingly short - Two campaigns that span about four hours each at best - And the sad thing is, the whole time I was playing, I wasn't feeling the LOTR influence, the generic species and hero that's from LOTR appears, but it doesn't feel like LOTR should.
There's only one real moment where you go
"Yeaaa..LORD OF THE RINGS!" And it's immense, it's when you're slaughtering some random Orcs and it goes all grim and stuff - And then suddenly, you start kicking arse and the classic LOTR tune comes in - And I personally got a shiver up my spine when that happened.

I guess what i'm trying to say is; The game doesn't deliver the epic LOTR experience like it should do, but as a standalone game, it's pretty good.
It's also a fairly good clone of the original Star Wars Battlefront games, except of course with next-gen graphics and different skins on the characters - And a lack of vehicles; Which I feel is a problem, sure, in LOTR Conquest we could ride horses, become a balrog and an Ent - But where were the giant eagles and those scary dragon monsters? I mean, they were there, but they just flew around the sky and annoyed the pants off of you.

Thankfully for us gamers that enjoy online gameplay - once the campaigns are over, you can head online - To do the exact same thing with people that actually know what they're doing (Unless you're on the baddies side). Because, it's kinda apparent that no one plays baddies in this game; So, you always just get people who don't want to be there fighting with you and generally tossing about as a cave troll.

All in all; Lord Of The Rings conquest is a good game, it just lacks the depth and variation that a game such as Star Wars Battlefront had - Add flying Dragon/Eagle battles and you'd be having alot more fun.
This game is worth buying if you were a fan of Star Wars Battlefront or a die hard Lord Of The Rings fan that can find joy in anything that contains blonde haired pretty boys and short angry men with beards.

80%

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Fable 2 review

Fable 2


Fable 2 has finally arrived, four years after the original masterpiece on Xbox. Developed by Lion Head studios, Fable 2 is famously led by Peter Molyneux, who unfortunately has, over the years, given himself a bad reputation as an “Over hyper”. After the major disappointment that many fans felt after Fable 1 and Fable TLC, the Lion Head crew obviously realised that they needed to up the ante.
This game includes many new features, some that were promised for Fable 1 and TLC; some entirely new, such as the amazing dog AI. The game does not only boast itself as an amazing RPG based game, set in a mythical, free roaming land, but features many ideas and game play design quirks such as sandbox game play and mini-games.

The story starts with you; a child living the rough life in Albion with your sister Rose. As you start the game, it’s clear that Lion Head must’ve sat down and thoroughly discussed the best way to begin. After all, the final result ended up being a bird dropping feces upon your head. Other ideas must have included finding a dead rabbit and lopping its foot off, or maybe finding a horse shoe, the world will never know.

Anyway, after being pelted with bird droppings, you are thrust into a world of similar to that of a 17th Century Christmas novel. You are then sent on a series of tasks, quests if you will. These “quests” consist of doing small errands for the locals, so that you can gain enough gold to buy a musical box. Yes. A musical box. After this series of events, you are brought into another realm, one in which you are an adult, and this is where your adventure truly starts. The plot has plenty of depth and although a little short, it nonetheless provides laughs, tears and at least 12 hours of game play for the “hardcore gamers” out there.

I have nothing but praise for the NPCs in this game. They are a huge part of this game, as it is a game in which you can interact however you like, whether it’s slaughtering a village, being the town fool, or being the town sweetheart. Furthermore, depending on how you choose to act with the NPCs, they will have appropriate reactions for you. As I stated earlier, new features have been implemented into this game. However, there are also some features that were simply improved, such as the family system that the last game offered. In Fable 2, the family system is much more personalized, giving you the opportunity to marry and have kids. And it's not just a “have a wife and kids for achievements” kinda thing - this game offers you specific quests that tie into your family. Sadly, I can't really describe these without spoiling the story, but the way you become emotionally attached is amazing.

Now onto one of the biggest features of the game: the dog. In the beginning, there was a lot of scepticism over the dog, but clearly the doubt was misplaced. The dog is an excellent feature. In fact, if you were to play through the game without your canine companion, you'd likely feel lost. Not only does he proves to be a cute little buddy, but he also provides a treasure hunting service which comes especially in handy for specific quests, and sometimes is even a necessity to quests.

This game takes full advantage of the 360’s capabilities. Not only is the scenery huge and open, but it’s huge, open and magnificent. The best example of this would be Bower Lake, and as you first set foot onto the lake, you get the full package of what this game can offer you. With the lake in front of you lit by either sunlight or moonlight; the amazing view across to Hero Hill; the trees blowing steadily near you, on just one map, I’d actually say the visuals were breathtaking.

The soundtrack is made by the famous Danny Elfman, who is also known for his work on Tim Burton movies. Along with Russell Shaw, they cook up a storm of music, which is now available on free download from the Fable 2 site. But the music pales in comparison to one of the most epic features of this game: the voice cast. It includes some famous names, such as; Gemma Boyle, Oliver Cotton, Stephen Fry, Ron Glass, Julia Sawalha and Zoë Wanamaker, with plenty of other voice actors joining in on the action.

The depth that these voice actors give you is amazing, and personally, a favourite of mine was Stephen Fry. His character known as Reaver not only provides you with a passion for him, whether that is love or hate, but gets you really interested in him as a character and you feel you want to know more. The same could be said for Ron Glass, formerly known for his work in the show “Firefly”. He gives off a specific aura, not only due to his character, but because his voice acting is simply superb. Julia Sawalha provides the voice of Sister Hannah and because you'll get to know her pretty well, the voice acting of this particular character was fairly important. When you meet her, she is singing. I personally found her voice enchanting, which at first didn't really seem suit the character, but upon evaluation, this character is a little topsy-turvy, so an elegant voice such as Julia Sawalha's is perfect. Zoë Wanamaker provides narration throughout the game and also serves as the voice of Theresa, a blind seeress, whom you meet fairly early in the game, although I couldn't help but think of her as anything except/other than a mother in a slightly humorous British sitcom. Once you forgot that however, she seems to fit right in.

My major criticism for this game comes in the form of “Co-op”, a term that should be used lightly in the case of Fable 2. The fundamental idea of Co-op is a good one, but I can't help but feel it was executed a little shoddily. The general idea of the multi player is that you play as your friends’ henchman, in their world. Here is mistake number one. In a game about customization, a game in which customization is such a huge feature, why would the player want to play as a generic henchman? Well, truth be told; they don't. The second issue is that the camera angle is ridiculous, to be honest, and I would have preferred split screen to the angle that you are provided with. The angle that we are given to work with is centered around player one, meaning that all action has to follow him or her.

So those are the negatives, but there are positives. You can have a lot of fun on multi player, as long as you and your friend are content with playing together and one not running off without the other. Another advantage of this system is that it's easy to use. Whether it's over live or on a single machine, you simply jump into your friend's world after a mini screen pops up asking what weapons you would like and your appearance, whilst the host chooses how much of his or her earnings you'll be taking back with you.

Personally, I love the game. I've played hours on end of it, and even after I completed it, I carried on playing, racking up a massive 40 hours of game play on one character. I've played through three times now, racking up at least 20 hours on each character. The sandbox effect that you're provided with is nice, the game isn't too linear yet you're aware that you have goals, the freedom could be described as “Oblivion, but with aims” and you never feel overwhelmed by the freedom that you have, yet you do not feel confined. Overall, this game is another example of an amazing Western RPG, but just a little too short to be classed as an epic RPG.

95%

Chris Leddy

Plants VS Zombies review

Plants VS Zombies


Whilst I was brought up to not judge a book by its cover, it's a hard task when confronted with such a weird, blunt title such as “Plants VS Zombies” But true to its name, Plants VS Zombies gives you exactly what we all want; An immense battle between the Plant kingdom and the living dead – Just what we all want – Right?

I'll start with the basics; Plants VS Zombies is not the next best in-depth Zombie survival game, I personally have trouble referring to this game as anything but a basic tower game, the kind you'd find on your average flash game site, so if you're looking for the next big Zombie game, then I'd have to direct you in the other direction, toward Valve or Capcom.
As mentioned before, Plants VS Zombies is a tower defense game, but it's much more than that, whilst the exterior of this game may seem like your basic flash (I wouldn't blame you if you avoided it because of that minor fact.) but underneath that big, ugly, generic coat is a game reeking of charm and personality; don't get me wrong, I wouldn't call what it has a “Story mode” (Or Adventure mode), but I would say there's more story there than your bog-standard flash tower defense game – Presumably this is because you're expected to pay for Plants VS Zombies and the generic mold wouldn't quite cut the cheese.

WILD IN-DEPTH PLOT DEVICE APPEARS!


The basic gist of the game is (As you might have guessed from the title) to fight the Zombies; more specifically defend your house from the Zombies. No back story is really given, but then again, it doesn't really require one, all you need to know is that you wanna kill the zombies before they get to you – And you DON'T wanna fuck with Crazy Dave; Mainly because he's crazy, but also because he gives you items that'll help you fight off the horde; such as a shovel that allows you to dig up misplaced flowers.
Crazy Dave; Sporting a very fetching sauce pan on his head.


To create your flowers and such, you need some form of currency, in Plants VS Zombies, it comes in the form of sun points, these randomly drop from the sky every once in a while giving you 25 points each time, with your generic Pea shooter tower costing 100, obviously leading you to the conclusion that there are faster and better ways to gain sun points; Well, if you had lead yourself to that conclusion, then you'd be correct; Using sunflowers you gain an extra 25 for each one at random intervals, you soon learn to use Sunflowers in every match and you find yourself placing them towards the back of the map where Zombies can't get to as they'll be the bulk of your currency supplying your vicious flower army with more ammunition and protection.

The game will have you completing levels to gain new flowers and other botanical based creatures and to carry on in the “immense, emotionally in depth” story; which basically involves bringing bigger, scarier, harder to beat enemies, such as a Zombie with a pole-vault, which manages to launch itself over any obstacle such as a Potato mine, a walnut and even a Chomper; It will also launch itself over your first line of pea shooters, which is generally a stupid move, because if you play like me, then you'll have line of ice pea shooters to freeze them and possibly even a walnut to prevent such maneuvers – After all, you gotta stay on your toes in this game, what with those crafty, sly zombies sneaking about.

My winning layout; Well, atleast it was winning on the starter levels.


Whilst some gamers may think that a pure Tower defense game can get a little stale after a while, it appears that PopCap anticipated this and included several mini-games that come up within the game, these are tasks similar to the main game, but given a little jazz and twist of the game play mechanics. One of the earliest examples of this is when Crazy Dave gives you the chance to use Walnuts to bowl the Zombies down, whilst this only lasts one round, it certainly does refresh the game play and whilst the Bowling mini-game is fun, it makes you appreciate the main game play a little more – Another example of this a little later on is when you aren't given the usual sun points to build the items that you need, but you're given a random selection of items that scroll across a bar along the top at random intervals, you are then hounded with a horde of zombies larger than the usual crowd, it's more challenging than the main game play and has the same effect that the bowling has, in that it allows you to appreciate the main game play ten fold.



In conclusion, whilst most gamers may want to avoid this for it's lack of story and in depth game play, I personally found it well worth picking up off of Steam; Especially for the meager price of £6.99; The game play is good, basic, clean fun and I recommend it to any fan of the Tower defense genre and any one just looking for a game to play for a couple of minutes every once in a while.

85%

Chris Leddy

Welcome

HAI

So yea; Basically, i'll be posting reviews, news, etc about gaming here - Possibly a couple of reports and such.
Expect alot of bias and hype from me =] And alot of hate towards Kingdom Hearts =D It's what I do best.
Sit back, enjoy some shoddy reviewing and less QQ moar PewPew.