Project Aftermath (PC) Review

Project Aftermath is an indie 3D topdown game where you get to lead a bunch of heroes around and shoot at dudes. Oh, and there are awesome little bridges and doors you can open and close! Games Faction was kind enough to give us a copy, and we had a lot of fun reviewing it--if you can call playing for hours on end "reviewing" it.

STORY

Project Aftermath puts you in charge of four heroes. These heroes attempt to take down the New Order, a group of fighters that want to take over. The game features a meager ten levels. While these levels are not excruciatingly long, they're not exactly what you'd call a Half-Life 2. Which is perfectly fine. None can expect an indie game studio to pump out a story to match the finesse and quality of Valve's Half-Life 2. Project Aftermath has a perfectly fine story, for what it tries to accomplish.


AUDIO

The audio in Project Aftermath is basically composed of many short sounds, and that's it. Sure, there are characters talking to you a lot of the time, and while the voice acting is superb, the actual sounds accomplish little more than telling the player what's happening. Lasers all really sound the same, sticks and claws don't make any different sounds (even though you're bashing with sticks and puncturing with claws), and almost every other sound effect is in the same matter. I really don't mean to sound harsh, seeing as this is an indie production and they don't have an entire team dedicated to sound effects, but they really could be better.

GAMEPLAY

Now this is what I'm excited to write about. Project Aftermath boasts incredibly addicting gameplay. Players will never want to stop beating the crap out of enemies with pointy sticks, or shooting people over and over until there really isn't a reason to shoot any longer.  There is a huge variety of weapons, augments, field effects, and upgrades to be had. The game boasts thousands of different customization options. In order to buy new weapons, you must spend GOOP, the currency in Project Aftermath. Players have a set amount of GOOP when they start a mission, and if the GOOP meter goes into the red zone during the mission, it's perfectly fine. But if they finish the mission and the GOOP meter is still critical, the mission is counted as a failure. Players lose GOOP by resurrecting fallen warriors, or using field effects and augmentations. GOOP can be collected by picking it up, and the pickups are scattered throughout each map.

Players can literally choose thousands of customization options. First you have your heroes. You can add or remove soldiers from each hero, costing GOOP for every soldier. Then players can choose their hero's power, a trait that determines how well they fare in combat. Power is quite expensive, though it pays off. After those customizations, players can determine what augmentations the hero receives. Augmentations are powerups that effect objects within a certain radius. These can be speed, attack, defense, or even resurrection of fallen soldiers. Field effects are quite the opposite: they're devastating attacks that can wipe clear enemies. Field effects often cost GOOP, so players use them only in emergencies. After customizing the field effects and augmentations, players can finally choose what weapons a hero receives. There are only two types of weapons: melee and ranged. Players can choose around four weapons for their hero to use, and can switch between them during battle. Additionally, if a player chooses to use a melee weapon, they get the added bonus of being able to rush very quickly towards their opponent.

Weapons are split into four groups, or elements: red, light blue, green, yellow. Players must choose carefully what elements they choose, because enemy's armor can also be these four elements. If a player attacks an enemy with a weapon of the same element as the enemy's armor, the attack will be drastically weakened, up to 100% in rare cases. A few enemies can have double armor, so they have resistance from two different elements. Field effects are also split into these four elements, and follow the same basic rules.


VISUAL

Project Aftermath is a piece of visual excellence. Environments are painstakingly detailed, giving the player a sense of envelopment. The graphics in Project Aftermath really help get the player into the game, full alert for any signs of resistance. A neat particle system really adds to this--without it, everything would look a lot more bland. The fire is simply beautiful. In addition to all this, Project Aftermath is constantly being updated, so we can expect more beautiful artwork in the near future.

REPLAY

Players can constantly go back to previous levels and attempt to get a higher GOOP score, in an attempt to get more weapons and soldiers to beat a more challenging level. In addition, players can control how hard it is. For the more "hardcore" players, they can simply drastically weaken their soldiers in an attempt to show off how awesome they are. Casual players can use all their GOOP up to defend themselves as well as possible. In addition, there are medals awarded per level depending on how much GOOP players have left after completing a mission. For the extremely hardcore, they could get 100% GOOP while having no armor and no weapons aside from sticks! The replay value is strong in Project Aftermath, and players will spend hour upon hour in attempts to perfect their playstyle. I know one person that will strive to win every level on "expert" mode.

OVERALL

Project Aftermath is one game that will not disappoint. For all ye who love RTS, hear me. For all ye who love indie and strategy, hear me. For $19.99, players will receive hours of playtime, engaging graphics, and content updates for no charge. The game is available on Steam, and we highly recommend that you buy it. Those who don't will be missing out on a sure hit--I cannot wait to see what a sequel looks like.

Nov
27
2008

Midnight Club Los Angeles (X360) Review

 

If you’ve ever had the displeasure of driving in Los Angeles, you know there is nothing remotely fun about it. Apparently the folks over at Rockstar San Diego beg to differ – at least in the videogame world. The Los Angeles they’ve created in Midnight Club Los Angeles is vibrant, colorful and full with detail and life. Unlike the Burnout series, you have a cityscape that has people and an environment that is actually like a city. Add to that the fact that the newest iteration of this street racing series is just plain fun, and you’ll have yourself a blast tooling around in your beautifully rendered, totally pimped out ride (sorry, no TVs in the trunk).

 

After you pick your jaw off the floor from the stunning visuals and check out the wicked chrome effects on your car you’ll quickly see just how smooth your car handles. Granted the physics are more Burnout then Forza but if you’re a total gearhead and you really wanted to drive your virtual car more realistically you have that option. The driving experience as a whole lives up to and outshines previous midnight clubs making MCLA pure empty-headed fun. The feeling you get is that you are driving at exhilarating speeds thorough crowded city streets racing other fools for some mad cash and making your way up the ranks.

Never mind the story because if there is a weak spot, that’s it. The Midnight Club series was never really about plot so at this stage of the franchise why even bother to have one? Just know that when the race begins, it’s on. When you’re not racing, you’ll have a grand ‘ol time customizing your car 10 times over. Everything from the hubcaps to the exhaust to the paint. No need to fret too much on what you’re beefing up your whip with.You get a fairly decent guide of what the performance parts do and cost.Just roll on up to the garage and have at it.

Seamless online racing adds to the fun as you careen about the streets of L.A. trying to beat strangers and friends alike. With support for up to 16 players, race and co-op modes that resemble a first person shooter, MCLA has depth and replayability to spare.

For fans of the series if modes and gameplay seem familiar, it’s because they are. What Rockstar San Diego did was not reinvent the wheel, but make a better performing and better looking wheel.

Nov
26
2008

NBA 2K9 (X360) Review

A Massive In Your Face Dunk of Fun

 

The battle for basketball sims between EA Sports and 2KSports has been going on for several years now and heading into the end of this decade, 2K Sports has edged its way into the lead surpassing gameplay and presentation every iteration. For the plug and play, “I have no time to learn how to play” gamers out there the latest tweaks are not anything that will blow you away but because of the bucket full of game modes and solid gameplay, you can count on having a grand time shooting hoops with the top players of the NBA.

I Can’t Believe It’s Not Really Basketball - Basketball

 

Much like the tasty fake butter spray, NBA 2K9 looks outstanding. When you look at this game you’ll simply be amazed, almost to the point that if you were going to casually stroll past a TV while a game was in progress you might not realize it was a video game. The player animations, the animated crowd, coaches and the stadium have all been improved in appearance making for a clean, great looking game. Now a few years into the “next gens” with HDTVs being sort of reasonable, everyone expects a game like this to look good --but 2K9 has outdone itself.

What Else Is New?Seriously Didn’t 2k8 Just Come Out?

 

Like football, hockey and soccer, both 2K Sports and EA Sports have their hoops games as perennials. As for new stuff, the living rosters and updates will keep your players up to date with their real life counterparts. A little too freaky for a sim? Maybe, but it’s still cool. The real gem of this year's release though has to be how close to reality the gameplay is. We’re talking about everything from player animations to AI interaction to play calling on offense and defense. Simply put, it’s unmatched. On top of that,vastly improved game modes like the Association have been tweaked to beef up the trades and the multiplayer now has the option to play 5 on 5 with a minimum one person per console. How’s that for some wacky online fun?

It’s great but not all gravy

 

One of these days, not sure when, 2K sports will make the free throws easier. Not that this is a complaint but when you try to have free throws mesh with the shooting styles of the players you end up with the killer talent of Kobe  as well as the brick throwing mastery of Shaq. There are some other quirky things that people could pick at if they really wanted to but for ballers and casual sports gamers alike NBA 2K9 serves up another plate of quality basketball gaming that has the depth and replayability you’ve come to expect from this series.

Nov
26
2008

Saints Row 2 (X360) Review

The Saints Row franchise has always suffered the problem of being compared to its older brother, Grand Theft Auto. People scrutinized the games first attempt, comparing it pixel by pixel to San Andreas. In a vain attempt, fans sought to give the game a new identity, saying you couldn’t compare the two games, it was like comparing apples to oranges. Alas, if it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, and looks like a duck, it’s going to be called a duck.

However, since we want to compare games, comparing GTA IV to Saints Row 2, is like comparing apples to apples. Except that second apple is candy coated making it a hell of a lot more fun…

Story

Saints Row 2 picks up a few years after the final events of the first one, with our MC waking up from the coma caused by the boat explosion in the first game. Your city that you once ruled is gone, as are you gang.Three new gangs have taken over Stillwater, as well as the mysterious Ultor Company, whose role in your attempted assassination is unclear. The game follows the MC’s quest to get his or her city back, and restore the Saints to power once again.

Without giving too much away, each gang is unique in their own way. The Brotherhood have sort of a Neo-Nazi kind of feel to them; The Sons of Samedi remind me to James Bond’s movie Live and Let Die; and the Ronin come off as a cliché Triad gang. There are no softies in this one people. At some point all three gangs will attempt to break their foots off in your respective asses.

Perhaps the most disappointing piece of the game is that the story line doesn’t answer what happened on that fateful night at the boat. The game makes an attempt to answer some of the questions, but that doesn’t take much to find, I found it before doing even 1 mission. It just takes a bit of curiosity.

Rating: A-

Gameplay:

This is where the apple gets candy coated. I don’t say this a lot, but it should be illegal to have this much fun in a video game. Campaign mode offers a nice little co-op, with partners being able to move in and out seamlessly without disruption of the game. It’s almost too inviting to grab a partner, and raise hell in the city. Side missions and activities can be performed with a partner as well, and anything earned during activities stays with you even after you leave.

The game thrives on pure customization. From the jump,you’re invited to make your gang member into whatever your heart desires, manor woman, hood or freak, it’s all up to you. Your houses, referred to as cribs,are customized from the bed you sleep on; to the TV you have, right down to the type of stripper pole your crib contains. Even your gang can be customized in to ninjas if you so desired. Even the way to take a rival gang member out was be customized, from nut-shots and head shots, to sticky satchel charges and chainsaws. Each style of killing earns you respect with your gang.

SR2 dominates where GTA IV failed, and that’s keeping your attention outside of missions. From riding on a flaming ATV setting anything and everyone in your path on fire, to riding around and spraying the locals with crap; the game keeps the laughs coming. Mechanics pretty much follow the first game, with a major addition being the over the shoulder look for better accuracy. Cars drive fairly well, however certain ones don’t handle well after a boost of Nitrous at full speed. The highlight has to be the motorcycles, fastas hell and twice as fun to drive.

The new over the shoulder aiming system rocks out loud,giving better sight to hordes of enemies. Smaller weapons can be dual-wielded,and there's a pretty good variety of weapons. Some are classics from the first game; others are brand new and pack a whole new punch. Try the shotgun that fires at a rapid rate like a pistol; or the rocket launcher that locks on.

Rating: A+

Graphics:

The new Stillwater looks beautiful. Point blank. The city isrichly built, from the skyscrapers to the slums. It can get buggy though, I’ve seen buildings just disappear after high explosive activity, and free falling from the sky onto certain buildings can land you inside, with no way out.There's also a tendency for the graphics to cause the game to freeze, but these are seemingly few and far between.

Rating: B+

Sound:

The soundtrack isn’t too much to write about, featuring some well-known artist like Taking Back Sunday, Young Jeezy, My Chemical Romance, Neyo, and LCD Sound System. However,there's a funny little Easter egg, that’s worth 15 achievement points, for each voice, there are two songs on the radio that your gangster will sing. Mine happens to really like Night Ranger’s Sister Christian. If it comes on the radio, you just have to sit there and do nothing. They will sing. It will be hilarious.

Replay

Nobody ever said beating all the activities was the way to beat the game. Chances are there are plenty of tags you missed, hidden CDs to collect, and stunt jumps to be found. There is always something to do, and the online multiplayer isn’t too shabby either.

Rating: A

Overall:

Saints 2 will hook new fans, and drive old fans to beg for anew one. Its pure psychopathic fun, mixed with all the excitement of a sandbox game. There are moments in the story that I really felt for the MC, and personally swore revenge on the gangs of Stillwater. It does a good job of sucking you in and never letting go. Hell, when it’s all said and done, one might be tempted to ask the question, Grand Theft who?

Rating A

Nov
24
2008

Pyroblazer (PC) Review

In the days of Gran Turismo, Need for Speed, among other racing franchises out there, the futuristic racing hasn't been explored very deeply, but one company has decided to tread these waters. A game recently released on Steam by a young company by the name of Eipix, Pyroblazer is a game of futuristic racing. Pyroblazer promises exceptional graphics, intense fun and gameplay, over 40 levels, 15 vehicles, and 20 weapons plus more. The question is will Pyroblazer get people into a racing version of Twisted Metal? Let’s find out…


Story:

The story here is quite simple; you have wanted to be a Pyroblazer for a long time and finally have gotten your chance to join the ranks. The game gives you a good amount of maps and ships but the story itself is just bland. You choose your ship and battle race through level to level to attain new ships and glory. It seems just to basic or more or less, a Hexen remake from the N64. The story is simple yet relevant, but nothing to WOW yourself at.

Story: C+


Gameplay:

The controls are clunky as hell and hard to get used to. Learning the ropes is the most difficult part along with attempting to race and fight at the same time through the tiny racing holes. I think if you took the time (a lot of time!) to get used to the game it could be thoroughly enjoyable, but honestly most people get turned off by a game they can't "master" or at least feel confident with in about 5 to 10 minutes. It seems like they took Jet Moto and made the racing tougher but not in a good way. It turns into a big turnoff. Jet Moto on the original Playstation is honestly a better and more enjoyable racing game than this. Simple controls, basic story (a.k.a. no story just f-ing race!) and a better overall experience. Pyroblazer just doesn’t hold up.

Gameplay: D+


Graphics:

The graphics are okay but nothing to make you jump. They aren’t too bad but do nothing to impress, if ya know what I mean. Graphics, the backbone of racing games today is just seemingly put on the back burner here. In racing, gameplay and graphics are interesting things. Some offer good variations of both while some lack one over the other but still perform well. As for Pyroblazer they are good as I said before, but they seem a bit sacrificed to the gameplay which made no true sense. They are good looking in their own right yet nothing that will make you go "ohhhh! Ahhhh! Hot diggity damn!" This is something that went overlooked or was sacrificed to the gameplay which is my belief. The graphics are not bad, I reiterate they are good just nothing new/exciting. Unfortunate yet true.

Graphics: B


Sound:

The sound is enjoyable and quirky, but is, in the end, bland. Beyond the explosions of other vehicles or yours, there is a large amount of zoooooooooooooooooom! and zooooooooooooooooooooooom! and occasionally a "bang!" here and there but lots of scraping against the sides of the racing tunnels. It is unfortunate, I wish it had a better sound track to it as well which could have really set the mood for the game. Racing games can be helped by music like the F-Zero series with their robotic announcer and catchy tunes. It could use some techno or some rock or just something besides add your own track kinda stuff. Kind of a knife and fork being scratched on a plate feeling here…

Sound: C


Replay:

Yet again, you can get the same enjoyment out of Jet Moto or Jet Moto 2 for the PSX which is considerably cheaper. The problem is this is nothing new and the gameplay is clunky and hard to get used too. I constantly found myself struggling to get into it due to my coming in mid- to last-place most of the time. Racing games are a big hit or miss genre so I cannot fault them against replay value. Racing games are just difficult to gain replay value in. Few racing games produce quality replay value and Pyroblazer falls into that black hole of games as well. Unless you and friends get into the game itself, I don’t think it has much replay value.

Replay: D

 

Overall:

I just couldn’t get into the game honestly. I like futuristic racing games as Jet Moto is one of my personal favorites of all time to this day. Pyroblazer has a lot of great ideas but just has control problems,an awkward weak story, and in some parts just too many laps. I mean 15 laps is a crap ton! It feels like future NASCAR…although I would watch NASCAR if machine guns, missiles, rockets and lasers were involved…anyway Pyroblazer seems more like a work in progress than a good game. I love seperate companies that try to make something unique, but as we have seen in years past it can fail terribly. Pyroblazer is not a failure by any means, it just needs some tweaking and turning is all. With a few add-ins maybe some characters or something this could be like Armored Core with racing in it, which I for one like the sound of. I am interested to see if they do a 2nd one; I think some vehicle customization and stronger story lines could help this franchise. The game has strong points but too many weaknesses to give it the benefit of the doubt. I know they can do better and hope they do a 2nd one which I would look forward to playing very much if they add a few things here and there!

Overall: C

 

Nov
23
2008

Fallout 3 (X360) Review

 

Few games have had the anticipation since debuting its teaser trailer like Fallout 3. Fallout 3 is a continuation of the Fallout series (obviously) and is done by Bethesda, the kings of sandbox survivals. The question is, can Bethesda give the great gameplay of the Elder Scrolls series with mixing in guns, a unique story and a devastated Washington D.C.wasteland. Will Bethesda hit the nail on the head or will they trip and fall into a puddle of radiation?Let us find out, here is the review of Fallout3.

 

Story:

 

Fallout 3 takes place in the year 2277 in post-nuclear fallout Washington D.C.which is 30 years after Fallout 2 and is 200 years after the nuclear destruction that has destroyed the Capitol Wasteland. You are an inhabitant of Vault 101. You start out as a child and then a teen where you take your S.P.E.C.I.A.L. (Strength, Perception,Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility and Luck) and G.O.A.T. (Generalized Occupational Aptitude Test) tests to choose your abilities and strengths. You then get your Pip Boy at the age of 10 which will be your lifeline through the rest of the game. Your father gives you a BB gun and teaches you how to shoot and use VATS (Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System).You wake up, age 19, to the alarm and your friend Amata who happens to be the overseer’s daughter. You find out that your father has fled Vault 101 and the Overseer goes ballistic,sending the vault police after you. You then must fight your way out of Vault101 in order to find your father. After you finally escape Vault 101, the door is shut behind you. You venture out into the open wasteland, sun blaring and all. You are to head for the city of Megaton which is just north-east of where you are at. This is where your story begins as you enter the Capitol Wasteland.

 

Story: A+

 

Gameplay:

 

Here is where you make a game worthwhile! Bethesda made a great engine for Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion and it gets even better with Fallout 3. The main attractions to Fallout 3 are the guns and the VATS system. The VATS system allows you to choose a body part to target such as legs, arms, chest, head, and weapon. If they are holding a grenade you sure can destroy it along with them. The area is vast and has lots for you to explore. From the outskirts of the D.C. area to the downtown area that has such well known places like the Jefferson Memorial and the Pentagon. There are many things for you to kill or be killed by. There are the large super-mutants,giant ants and mole-rats, flame spewing bugs, raiders, machines and radioactive stuff everywhere. It has the same feel as the Elder Scrolls series but with revamped and new things like the guns and creatures. Leveling up is very very important due to increasing your perks and abilities. Science is very important throughout the game as well.

 

Gameplay: A+

 

Graphics:

 

This is where Bethesda brings the big guns. The graphics in this game are phenomenal and heavily realistic. They have a perk upgrade dedicated to making your enemies explode like crash dummy dolls. They built the world into a believable post-apocalypse Washington D.C.and a decimated world with the inhabitants just looking to live day to day.There are many small towns of people just trying to live and then there are the two major cities, Rivit City and Megaton. All places have a realism that is kind of haunting especially when you live in America and have been to the D.C. (which yours truly has). The engine is haunting and lively at the same time.

 

Graphics: A

 

Sound:

 

The sound is wonderful. It is kind of nice to walk the wasteland listening to three-dog at Galaxy New Radio or the Enclave radio. When using VATS you get a bullet time sound which is a cool muffled effect. The wilderness throughout the game is creepy yet fun at the same time along with the wind sounds and enemies too. The voice acting is great with the narrator Ron Pearlman (Hellboy) and the voice of your father, which is Liam Neeson. My personal favorite voice in the game is still Malcolm McDowell who has been in such greats as Caligula and A Clockwork Orange and Adult Swim shows Robot Chicken and Metalocalypse. You might also remember Craig Sechler who voiced all of the Dark Elves from the Oblivion game.

 

Sound: A+

 

Replay:

 

The replay value is as high as Oblivion’s. You have to do a minimum of 3 play throughs in order to get all the games achievements due to getting an evil, good and neutral ending.The game does warrant several gameplays as it is just addictive and fun. There play is worthwhile as long as you’re a Bethesda fan.

 

Replay: A+

Overall:

 

The game itself is amazing. This is a game that can get you into the Bethesda genre and play Oblivion as well. Fallout 3 gives you the reins to fix or further destroy the Capitol Wasteland. You can be a good guy, bad guy or just neutral. You can create your own weapons like the roadway rail gun which uses rail spikes as ammo, and which has large amounts of ammo throughout the map.The guns range from a .38 special to a combat shotty to the Fat Man (A mini-nuke launcher). You have full freedom and lots of missions to complete. Great game and my personal Game Of The Year.

 

Overall: A+

 

Notes: You can find your dog companion Dogmeat, at the city Junkyard which is just south of Minefield.

Notes: Find underworld ASAP! It is a ghoul city which has a girl in it that will pay you to find places on the map. Easy caps.

 

Achievements:

 

Vault 101Citizenship Award

  • Points: 10
  • Details: Got the Pip-Boy 3000

The G.O.A.T.Whisperer

  • Points: 10
  • Details: Took the G.O.A.T.

Escape!

  • Points: 20
  • Details: Completed "Escape!"

Followingin His Footsteps

  • Points: 20
  • Details: Completed "Following in His Footsteps"

Galaxy News Radio

  • Points: 20
  • Details: Completed "Galaxy News Radio"

ScientificPursuits

  • Points: 20
  • Details: Completed "Scientific Pursuits"

Tranquility Lane

  • Points: 20
  • Details: Completed "Tranquility Lane"

The Waters of Life

  • Points: 20
  • Details: Completed "The Waters of Life"

Picking up theTrail

  • Points: 20
  • Details: Completed "Picking up the Trail"

Rescue from Paradise

  • Points: 20
  • Details: Completed "Rescue from Paradise"

Findingthe Garden of Eden

  • Points: 20
  • Details: Completed "Finding the Garden of Eden"

The American Dream

  • Points: 20
  • Details: Completed "The American Dream"

Take it Back!

  • Points: 40
  • Details: Completed "Take it Back!"

Big Troublein Big Town

  • Points: 20
  • Details: Completed "Big Trouble in Big Town"

The SuperhumanGambit

  • Points: 20
  • Details: Completed "The Superhuman Gambit"

TheWasteland Survival Guide

  • Points: 20
  • Details: Completed "The Wasteland Survival Guide"

Those!

  • Points: 20
  • Details: Completed "Those!"

The Nuka-ColaChallenge

  • Points: 20
  • Details: Completed "The Nuka-Cola Challenge"

Head of State

  • Points: 20
  • Details: Completed "Head of State"

The Replicated Man

  • Points: 20
  • Details: Completed "The Replicated Man"

Blood Ties

  • Points: 20
  • Details: Completed "Blood Ties"

Oasis

  • Points: 20
  • Details: Completed "Oasis"

The Power ofthe Atom

  • Points: 20
  • Details: Completed "The Power of the Atom"

Tenpenny Tower

  • Points: 20
  • Details: Completed "Tenpenny Tower"

Strictly Business

  • Points: 20
  • Details: Completed "Strictly Business"

YouGotta Shoot 'Em in the Head

  • Points: 20
  • Details: Completed "You Gotta Shoot 'Em in the Head"

Stealing Independence

  • Points: 20
  • Details: Completed "Stealing Independence"

Trouble onthe Homefront

  • Points: 20
  • Details: Completed "Trouble on the Homefront"

Agatha's Song

  • Points: 20
  • Details: Completed "Agatha's Song"

Reilly's Rangers

  • Points: 20
  • Details: Completed "Reilly's Rangers"

Reaver

  • Points: 10
  • Details: Reached Level 8 with Bad Karma

Mercenary

  • Points: 10
  • Details: Reached Level 8 with Neutral Karma

Protector

  • Points: 10
  • Details: Reached Level 8 with Good Karma

Harbinger of War

  • Points: 20
  • Details: Reached Level 14 with Bad Karma

Pinnacle ofSurvival

  • Points: 20
  • Details: Reached Level 14 with Neutral Karma

Ambassador ofPeace

  • Points: 20
  • Details:Reached Level 14 with Good Karma

Scourge ofHumanity

  • Points: 30
  • Details: Reached Level 20 with Bad Karma

Paradigm ofHumanity

  • Points: 30
  • Details: Reached Level 20 with Neutral Karma

Last,Best Hope of Humanity

  • Points: 30
  • Details: Reached Level 20 with Good Karma

Weaponsmith

  • Points: 30
  • Details: Made one of every custom weapon

Doesn'tPlay Well with Others

  • Points: 20
  • Details: Killed 300 people

Slayer of Beasts

  • Points: 20
  • Details: Killed 300 creatures

Silver-TonguedDevil

  • Points: 20
  • Details: Won 50 Speech Challenges

Data Miner

  • Points: 20
  • Details: Hacked 50 terminals

Keys are forCowards

  • Points: 20
  • Details: Picked 50 locks

One-ManScouting Party

  • Points: 20
  • Details: Discovered 100 locations

Psychotic Prankster

  • Points: 10
  • Details: Placed a grenade or mine while pickpocketing

The BiggerThey Are...

  • Points: 20
  • Details: Kill all the Super Mutant Behemoths

Yes, I Playwith Dolls

  • Points: 10
  • Details: Collected 10 Vault-Tec Bobbleheads

Vault-Tec C.E.O.

  • Points: 30
  • Details: Collected 20 Vault-Tec Bobbleheads

 

Nov
22
2008

Blitz: The League 2 (X360) Review

Back in the day Madden wasn’t the only football gaming franchise known to the world. Other than ESPN and 2K there hasn’t been much to fight against Madden’s domination except in the early 90s and early 2000s when Blitz came out. Blitz, a well known arcade game got its shot on the N64 and Playstation and grew a large fan base by allowing late hits and fast paced gameplay. Now, with 2009 approaching Blitz:The League 2 has come out and the question arises, can it even shake the podium Madden stands on?

Well the answer is an earth shattering hell no. Here is the review for Blitz: The League 2.

Story:

Well the story itself is one that is basic and simple.You’re a character who is dubbed the name "Franchise" and apparently this guy is so damn good that he could have played any pro sport in the land. So not the NFL, NHL, NBA, LAX, MLS, UEFA, NRA, NAMBLA…ok those last 2 are jokes but you get my point. Anyway, you decide to play in Blitz (not by choice!) The owner/commish guy wants you to play for the best team in his league, but you refuse and say you will only play in your home city which then prompts you to create a team. I decided to use Compton because they are way overdue for a team and I named my team the Compton Crackakillas. Kind of hateful but hey I don’t care, live with it. You then do some questions from some reporters and form what your players’ position on offense and defense are.Basically stupid questions with worse answers.

Overall: D+

Gameplay:

The gameplay feels like original Blitz but not as polished or finished. The after hits are very limited and it takes out some of the fun that Blitz gave you. The late hits are essential to the game but you barely get to use them. Passing is simple just like Madden and running is just as normal. The biggest thing that Blitz has is the super hit it has. You can pinpoint which part of the player you want to hit weather it is his spine,neck, left thigh, right thigh, or both shoulders. Other than that it is basically the same game as Blitz: The League was and your normal fan will enjoy it.

Overall: B

Graphics:

The graphics are definitely the best thing about the game.There is heavy detail since the first League game and it is noticeable in the endzone and in the stadiums. The graphics are actually better in game than the cinematics which is somewhat awkward to me. You customization of basically anything is non-existent in this game though which hurts it to a certain degree. You can’t create a custom player, instead you get a pre-created character just like the first one and that hurts it as well with graphics. Not bad in game but not impressive in cine’s.

Overall: C

Sound:

The sound does its thing and is helped by Frank Caliendo’s impression of John Madden throughout game commentary. Honestly hearing him in the game was the only thing I really liked sound wise about this game. You agent and woman all were annoying and forgettable while Caliendo was on par and did a great job. The players in the game aren’t bad but it is a football game and so of coarse it was fine.

Overall: B-

Replay:

If you’re a die hard fan of the series you will love it and play it over and over. If your not a fan of the series stay away from it this won’t be worth your hard earned cash. The online is very bland at best and the career mode…thing…is totally boring and slow. Honestly stick with original Blitz or Blitz 2000 for your over the top ass whoppin’ football needs.

Overall: D if your not a fan B+ if you’re a fan

Overall:

In general, this game is what Blitz and Midway have been for years. Unfortunately it won’t cut it for gamers new to the franchise. This won’t create new fans of get people to buy this over Madden like really anything would. Just hear me out, it is fun and to an extent I liked it but it is a shelf sitter to any person who isn’t head over heels for the series itself.This won’t make you put down Madden or set down anything else you paid good money for. It has good things but is too thin and to stale for the price. To sum it all up im just saying if you love the series get it if you don’t play Blitz or am a Madden fanatic this is not something you will like. Trust me.

Overall: C

Achievements:

Franchise Player25 Win the Division 1 Championship and the League MVP with Franchise.

Campaign mode consists of three divisions with your team starting in the weakest, Division 3. I'd suggest using a QB/Corner hybrid. The running game in Blitz is fairly useless and almost all the big plays will come off passes. On the defensive side, a corner is great for moving in and blitzing for sacks, as well as staying back in coverage for interceptions/causing injuries. If you get the most passing yards in your division during each of the sections of the game, you shouldn't have any trouble getting MVP in all of them. This will also net you League MVP and winning the Division 1 Championship is required to beat the game, so all of these achievements will come along the way.

During the campaign, you will need to lose no more than two games to still make the title game. Obviously your goal is always to win, but taking up to two is acceptable and won't hurt anything. Just make sure you're still putting up big numbers in your losses or you'll slip down in the MVP race. If you're playing poorly, don't feel bad to quit and retry.

Note: You can put the difficulty down to easy to help with all achievements.

Face of the League130 Finish Campaign Mode. See "Franchise Player" for more info.Hall of Fame40 Franchise declared the MVP in all three division seasons. See "Franchise Player" for more info.Legendary Sophomore80 Beat Division 2 in Campaign Mode. See"Franchise Player" for more info.Legendary Rookie40 Beat Division 3 in Campaign Mode. See"Franchise Player" for more info.MVP20 Franchise declared the MVP in anydivision season. See "Franchise Player" for more info.Alpha Dog25 Train Franchise up to an A+ rating during Campaign Mode.

During the campaign, select the "Trainer" tab and then assign training to both your offensive and defensive attributes. If you used the QB/Corner hybrid I suggested, enhance your passing/strength first,then move to agility and speed/tackling and hands. This will give you the best attributes in the beginning. Inside the upgrades option, spend your money again on the things that will upgrade the previously mentioned sections first. You should have this by the end of D2.

Main Man35 Get Franchise's Reputation to 25 level or higher in Campaign Mode.

Your reputation level increases fairly regularly based on your play. Things like big plays, big yardage overall, sacks, interceptions,injuries caused, etc. will all increase your rep bar. It will update insideeach game as you hit one of these milestones. Again, if you're having a poorgame don't feel bad about quitting and retrying. It would be much worse to take what you're given and then end up not getting this and having to do the entire campaign over. Injuring and knocking out an opposing team captain is by far the best way to increase your bar so always aim for that, especially when they are an offensive player which are easier to injure.

Ironman10 Score 5 TD's and get 5 sacks with Franchise in a single Campaign Mode game.

See "Bulldozer" for more info on sacks. Getting touchdowns should be second nature if you've played much of the campaign.

Bulldozer10 Get 10 sacks with Franchise in one Campaign Mode game.

As originally described in this thread, your best bet for this is in D3, the first game vs. the Hounds. He described it very well so read that and you shouldn't have much trouble. Again, setting the game to easy is key for these two achievements.

Showoff10 Perform 10 different TD celebrations with Franchise in Campaign Mode.

Touchdown celebrations can only be performed if you score a touchdown and get in the endzone without being knocked off your feet. You will then need to input a four button code to perform the celebration. This is tracked in the "Awards" tab if you're not sure how many you've done.Ten different ones much be done in the same campaign mode using Franchise. Youwill probably need to start a new campaign with him as a wide receiver toensure you can score without being knocked over. Use this list for all the codes.

Hollywood25 Perform 5 different touchdown celebrations in a single Quick Play, Online or Campaign game.

These do not have to be performed as Franchise, so using him as a QB, be sure to score five touchdowns and use five different ones from this list in a single game.

Man Blanket10 Force 3 turnovers with Franchise during a Division Season in Campaign Mode.

Allow your opponent to pass the ball, then either try to intercept it (clash mode will help) or just line him up with Franchise and usea dirty/clash hit on the ball carrier (LT+A) and hope that you hit them hard enough that they will lose the ball. From there, you'll need to recover the fumble as well.

House Rules40 Win a game against the computer in every Bonus Mode.

I don't know exactly when the last two bonus games unlock,but I believe one unlocks after D3 and one after D2 in the campaign mode. Once you've unlocked all of them, just win inside all six: Butterfingaz, Make it Take it, Lucky 7's, Pain, Bone Crushers, Prison Ball. Select "Bonus Modes"from the main menu to play these.

Big Spender25 Spend over a million dollars in Campaignmode.

You earn money depending on how well you play in games aswell as the bets you place on the game. You should be getting 200k+ even in D3so this should be done after no later than your sixth game. Buy the up grades for your team or spend the money juicing, doesn't matter which.

Welcome Rookie15 Win first game of Campaign Mode See"Franchise Player" for more info.Return to Sender10 Return two kickoff or punt returns for TD's in any game.

The best way to get these is to make sure you have some clash meter filled, then start up the left or right sideline and hope those two defenders knock the other team's attackers over, this will give you plenty of room to work with. From there, hit your turbo and go as far as possible though you'll most likely get tracked down eventually. At this point, activate your clash and stiff-arm the attackers.


This can not be done in Bonus Modes games, only quickplay, campaign and online.Go Long!10 Gain 450 passing yards in any Campaign Mode game.

Using your Franchise QB this shouldn't be too tough. Every time you get the ball on a kickoff or punt, head backward and run out of bounds at your 10 or so to give you more yards to gain.

Rushing Attack15 Score 5 rushing TD's in any Campaign Mode game.

These do not have to be done with Franchise, so pass it in and run out of bounds at the 2 yard line (not the 1 as you may accidentallystep in the endzone) and then call a run play. A basic sweep or pitch shouldwork from that distance. Make use of your clash bar if you keep getting tackledearly.

Magic Hands10 Catch every pass thrown by your QB in any Campaign Mode game.

I can confirm that this does not count 2-point conversions for some reason as I botched one and still got this achievement. To be safe,throw the ball once and catch it, then choose run plays from then on. You don't have to win this game either.

Safety Dance10 Force a safety in a single Campaign Mode,Quick Play or Bonus Mode game.

This will most likely be easiest in a game of Prison Ball.The field is very short and they start right near their own endzone. To get a safety you must tackle whoever on their team has the ball inside their own endzone (the one behind them).

Lucky 7's10 Throw at least 7 TD passes in a single game in Campaign Mode.

Again, using your Franchise QB this should be easy. Instead of running backward like you would for the 450 yard achievement, take your kickoffs and punts as far as you can to get within one or two plays of a touchdown. On defense, let your opponent score if you need to so your offense can have more shots at this.

Power Surge10 Score three TD's in a single quarter in Campaign Mode.

Using the strategy for "Lucky 7's" this should come at the same time.

Jackpot10 Earn $400,000 in one campaign mode game.

Money earned is as follows: Clash Moves (2k), Unleash Moves(5k), Dirty Hits (3k), Injuries Caused (7k), Turnovers Caused (5k), Touchdowns(12k) and you will get a nice chunk if you've bet on the game, as well as a bonus if the game you win as in a divisional championship game.

So be sure to win your division championship game, win the bet during that game and also score a healthy amount of touchdowns and you should have it. Plya dirty defense and get some injurie/turnovers as this will both get you more cash immediately and give you more chances for touchdowns.

Group Hug10 Land 3 three man tackles in any Campaign Mode, Quick Play or Bonus Mode game.

A 3-man tackle is performed by using a clash tackle (hold LT and dive at someone) while your teammates are also near the ball-carrier. Youa nd your mate will both jump at the ball-carrier and toss him around. The third man in the equation is actually the ball-carrier and not someone on your side so if you've only hit the ball-carrier with two people, that counts.

Anger Management15 Accumulate 5 late hit icons in a single Campaign Mode game.

After most dirty/clash hits, the words "Late Hit"may pop up. When you see them, run up to anyone on the opposing team and hit A to beat on them. Repeat four more times in the same campaign game.

A-Train10 Manually break 3 tackles in any Campaign Mode or Quick Play game.

If an opponent dives at you and only gets your feet, a pulsing A-button may appear on screen. When you see it, pound on that sucker and you should high-step out of the tackle. Repeat two more times.

Early Release25 Beat Prison Ball in Campaign Mode.

Prison Ball takes place after you win D3. There are no kickoffs, punts or field goals and the field is extremely short. This is an extremely annoying game because with no pads, you can get injured very, very easily and this will automatically end the game and force you to restart. I can't even remember how many tries this took but it was ridiculous. You'll needto survive the game and win to move on.

Try to injure their QB during this game for one of the secret achievements.

King of the Yard10 Shut out the computer in a Bonus Mode game of Prison Ball.

Change the quarter length to one minute and difficulty to easy to make this easier. Anytime you have the ball, rush and run down as much clock as possible before running the next play,  but always get a touchdown to fill your clash. When they get the ball, use a big clash hit and try to get a turnover. You'll have the hang of defense if you've played thecampaign at all.

He's Ready20 Complete Training Mode

From the main menu, select "Training Camp" and complete each of the tutorials in Rushing, Passing, Receiving, Defense and Triage.

Skidmark10 Cause 3 weather slips to your opponent ina Campaign Mode game.

If you use a juke move (flick the right thumb stick when you have the ball) and your opponent is on a weather hazard (mud, etc.) they will slip and fall down. Check your progress in the pause menu under theAchievements tab if you think you've made them slip.

loater10 Intercept 3 passes (Campaign Mode, QuickPlay or Online).

Not much of a science to this one and it will most likely come without trying too hard. When your opponent passes, take control of the defender near the receiver he is throwing to, then attempt to step in front and hit Y to manually catch it. You'll also probably get lucky and have one or two bounce of their receiver and land in one of your other safety's hands. This can be boosted online if you're having trouble.

Hot Streak20 Win 5 games in a row online with anyteams. (Ranked Match)

After getting "Real Deal" you'll need two morewins, but now I'd suggest switching to new teams to work on "Ful lDeck" at the same time. You can have a friend quit out of your games four times, then play and win the 5th for the achievement.

Full Deck30 Win an Online game with every team.(Ranked Match)

I would keep a pen and paper handy as you work on this and write down what teams you've won with. Every time you go to a new game, make sure you're using a new team. Obviously best to boost for this by quitting out of matches as that counts as a win for that team. You can only check progression this while inside an online match (pause and choose"achievements"), but once that hits 100% you will need to play out a full match (win or lose) for it to unlock.

The Clap10 Play someone with the Clap in online play and you get the Clap.

This is a viral online achievement so your best bet will be to play a normal ranked match (as these people play the game often and should have it) or look for a friend in the Achievement Trading Thread. You need to play out a full game.

Lockdown10 Shut out an opponent in an online game.

Self-explanatory. If you're boosting for the win streaks  this will come along the way. If you're going for it legit, good luck. Most people online are very good.

Contender10 Win a game online. Again,self-explanatory and will come if boosting but can obviously be done legit aswell.Real Deal15 Win three games in a row online with a Campaign Mode custom team. (Ranked Match)

You will first have to have a campaign started up to the point where you sign with your Hometown team, then find matches where custom teams are enabled. Select your custom team and win three in a row. Much easier if boosted by having a friend quit out twice, then play and win the 3rd for the achievement.

Stiffarmed10 Injure 2 defenders in a single game in Campaign Mode.

First thing you want to do is get some icons to fill all your slots and get your Unleash bar. The quickest way to do this is just punt the ball away and use dirty hits and beat downs while on defense. Now when you're on offense, take Franchise and enter Unleash mode, then hit up on the right stick when you get close to a defender. He should leap over them, knock them over, or something to that effect. It doesn't always injure them, but there's a good chance for them to get a concussion or injure their foot,sometimes even some worse injuries. You'll get this when going for the secret achievements.

Dr. Feelgood15 Successfully perform 10 Great Triages(over 90%) in Campaign Mode.

Triages only appear if your players are injured with"minor" things like stingers, concussions, bruises, small bone breaks and dislocations. You will either have to do the injection mini-game or a bonesetting mini-game. In the injection one, your hand and the player will both be shaking, making it difficult to get a bead on the target. You must be quick and use the left stick to move the needle into place and hit A to stab it in. Don't second guess yourself or the target will move and you'll miss badly, just move and stick. In the bone setting one, first use the left and right sticks tomatch with the outer edge of the ring, then two arrows will appear, one for each thumbstick. Try to match the direction of the arrow perfectly with the movements of your sticks. I found this one much easier than the injection one.

If you have to, start a new campaign and use run plays, but just stand in the backfield and let them crush you to take injuries. Once you get one or two over 90% in a game, play for real and try to win so you can continue the campaign. You could get it before D3 is over if you really try for it.

Sandman15 Complete 3+ sacks with Quentin Sands in a single Campaign Mode game.

See "Bulldozer" for tips on sacks, but instead of moving Sands to the line and using Franchise, move Franchise to the line and use Sands.

Parole Violation15 Injure an opponent with Karl Tirpitz in Campaign Mode.

Tirpitz will be available once you make it to D1. He is a lineman (DE) so you can either try to blitz and take out their QB or take control of him and move him back then use the method of allowing them to pass and making a big hit on the receiver. By the time you get to D1 you'll have a good feel of how to hurt someone.

Playah15 Hook up with 3 different girls in Campaign Mode.

To hook up with a girl, you will need to complete a certain challenge during a game to impress them. They will call or meet with you and let you know what they want before you start the game. Once you meet that goal you will hook up with them. If you're going to fail the challenge, quit the game and start over.

Faithful15 Be faithful to 1 girl throughout Campaign Mode.

See "Playah" for tips on getting a girl. Now,instead of meeting the goals after your first girl, purposely fail them so you don't hook up with anyone new. These two achievements will require different campaigns.

SecretAchievements

Secret Achievement20 Continue playing to unlock this secret achievement.

This achievement is for inflicting all 31 injuries present in the game. See this thread for the list. When the hittargeting system comes up, you will have 2-4 targets to choose from. The hardest ones to get seem to be the hands and feet as you need to be doing a diving tackle from a little further away than normal for them to activate.Games of Bone Crushers in the Bonus Modes section have by far the most injuries. Increase the quarter length to five minutes as this will leave more time to destroy the other team's stamina, leaving them more susceptible to injury. I don't think you can get the broken neck without a 3-man tackle usinga full Unleash meter.

Many injuries also show up much more often when using an offensive Unleash move (some of the foot/ankle injuries for instance), so try causing injuries from both sides of the ball.

Also, Prison Ball is a good mode for injuries too, but since there are no medical teams, you won't see the name of the injury. If you see anew animation you might not know what it was to mark off on your list.

Bestikill20 Ruptured 10 scrotums in any mode of play.

To get this injury you will need to get a very strong hit from directly in front of the ball-carrier (where you and he are running directly at each other), then aim low when the targeting system comes up.

Pitbull Payback 10 Knocked Mike Mexico out of the game during Prison Ball (Campaign Mode or Bonus Mode).

Mexico is the QB for the Supermax Prison team that you face in Prison Ball after D3 in campaign mode. Use the same strategies you've learned for sacks/injuries to put a big hit on him and knock him out of the game. This can be done in a Bonus Mode game of Prison Ball as well, and upping the quarter length for that will help run down his stamina.

Battagliation15 Knocked Bruno Battaglia out of the game during the League Championship.

Check the achievement "Stiffarm" for tips if you want to hurt him while you're on offense. You need to knock him out permanently so you may need to get him twice as the first one will probably only get him out a few plays.

Proposition 10 Proposed to a cheerleader in any mode of play

First you will need to unlock the Proposal touchdown celebration. To do this, make sure you do not get sacked by Carson on the New York Nightmare when you play his team in D1. Then in any of your following games, press BXBA after a touchdown to unlock this. The celebration must be done using Franchise.

Make it Rain10 Knocked New England Captain Packrat James out of the game in any mode.

Check the achievement "Stiff arm" for tips if you want to hurt him while you're on offense. You need to knock him out permanently so you may need to get him twice as the first one will probably only get him out a few plays.

Nov
19
2008

Lugaru: The Rabbit's Foot (PC) Review

Kung fu rabbits? The devil, you say! And made by Wolfire, too!

Killer bunnies aren't exactly a common plot device, outside of Monty Python and Night of the Lepus. Anthropomorphic killer bunnies are even more of a rarity. (Except when wandering through Second Life.) Thus, Lugaru has one major attraction right off the bat: it is very unique.

There are countless kung fu action games out there, and just as many humanoid animal games. If these subgenres are chocolate and peanut butter, then Lugaru is a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup. Inexplicably addicting... in small amounts.

Lugaru is the brainchild of David Rosen, founder of Wolfire Games.Wolfire is an independent developer that specializes in highly original game concepts. Lugaru is their first "full" game, preceded by equally addictive freeware titles like Lightning's Shadow and Black Shades.

Now, I know what you're thinking. Lugaru is some furry-based Raving Rabbids type affair, right? Wrong. Very, very wrong. Blood spatters the walls and ground with almost every fight. Knives, swords, and sticks can slice, slash, impale, and shatter the bones of anybody that crosses their wielder's path. The actual gore is in very small amounts, but the sheer force of the average fight more than makes up for the tiny puddles it leaves.

I must stress that Lugaru is an independent title. I repeat this because the first thing you'll notice about it is the very amateur graphic design. This game can be described in many ways, but "pretty"is not one of them. The character models are decently detailed and varied, so they do stand out in a drab, pointy world. Most of the structures are little more than giant blocks, and terrain is incredibly simple in texture. Grass, snow, sand, trees, bushes, a hill or three.That's the whole of it. On the positive side, the lack of detail makes for a huge arena to fight in.

Thankfully, this game doesn't need interesting environments, as you won't be doing any traveling. Instead, Lugaru is split into what can best be described as vignettes. You complete a section's objective(usually "kill everything that moves"),then you are brought back to the map to click on, and instantly appear in, the next segment. This is for the best, since each level is very open on all sides, with little to mark your path. This gives an illusion of open-endedness, as there are a few ways one can tackle each battle.

On the subject of battles, Lugaru is nothing without its brilliant, if admittedly slightly flawed, fighting system. Most games of this sort have simple "A to punch, B to kick" style controls. Lugaru, on the other hand, assigns 99% of attacks to the left mouse button. What move you pull off appears to be mostly context based, though I may be wrong.The default attack is a roundhouse kick that sends your opponent flying as a ragdoll through the air, looking far more damaging than it actually is. Crouch, and your attack will be a sweep kick, again temporarily making your opponent go ragdoll. A running start on four legs will give you a tackle move that can kill weaker enemies right off the bat. The rest of your extensive fighting repertoire is reliant on split-second timing and the occasional counterattack. The most difficult to pull off are the finishers, which can put even the hardiest of prey down in an instant. Pick up a weapon, and you have a whole new set of moves. There is also a scoring system that depends on what moves you use.

There's only one problem: Your enemies have a very similar moveset, and it can be extremely difficult to get the best of faster assailants.Wolves are especially formidable, as they are lightning quick,ridiculously strong, and almost unfairly able to shrug off normally devastating moves.

This can lead to major frustration, and is my only major beef with Lugaru. Difficulty is fine, but it should always be a gradual thing.Going from very easy to "throw the monitor out of the window"frustrating in the blink of an eye may turn off the less dedicated players.

You may have noticed that I haven't written a single word about the plot. That would be because the plot in this game is merely an excuse for rabbit fighting action. The in-game conversations are entirely text-based, and entirely forgettable. Replace every line of dialog with the sentences "Kill rabbits before rabbits kill you, Protagonist Rabbit!", and "I am going to kill you, Antagonist Rabbits!", and you won't be missing out on anything. But honestly, who plays games about rabbits for the storyline?

Sound is similarly sparse, with little but footsteps and general thwacking noises to treat your ears with. Alerting a patrolling enemy will start a repetitive (yet surprisingly not annoying) "badum badum badum" type noise that lasts until said enemy, or you, dies. There is music, but it's nothing extraordinary. It's well made, just a bit generic.

On the technical side of things, Lugaru is as efficient as one can reasonably ask it to be. Any halfway modern computer can run it flawlessly, even with all of the eye candy (like motion blur) cranked to maximum. Ragdoll effects are a bit glitchy, but they serve their purpose well. Indie games are notorious for being unpolished, but Wolfire has created a very professional, if aesthetically outdated,engine.

Lugaru may be a short and slightly repetitive game, but to call it anything less than a bargain for its quite reasonable price tag would be a boldfaced lie. A solid campaign, a wide variety of "challenge"levels, user-made content, and an extremely moddable engine all work towards giving you your money's worth, and then some. It's not a masterpiece, but it is an extremely promising genesis for a very talented developer. I can easily see Wolfire becoming a big name in the indie scene, as long as they keep up the level of quality they have shown so far.

There is also a sequel on it's way, called Overgrowth, which looks like it may hopefully fix the negative aspects of the original. If it doesn't, well, it'll still likely be a well-made game worth playing.

Nov
16
2008

World of Goo (PC) Review

The gents over at 2DBoy’s huge office complex were kind enough to give me a few goo balls to sample, and they taste delectable! I love you, 2D Boy!

AUDIO

The audio is simply superb. In all the action, it’s easy to not notice the squeals of delight, or the screams of terror that the blobs of goo spew forth from their mouths. I’m beginning to suspect that all this time, 2Dboy has held an orchestra hostage and only lets them eat if they get good reviews. I’m straying off course--the point is, the audio is amazing! Each stage sets exactly the right mood, and has exactly the right effect for getting you into the structural engineer's zone. A slew of amazing instruments playing at once will, I guarantee you, make your blobs build faster AND your foot tap faster, or your copy is freeee! Ahem, er, right. One level you are listening to soothing American-Army style trumpets reminiscing in the olden days of the bridge builder, the next level is a frantic cacophony of strings, beats, and noises urging you to accomplish the impossible task of building your way out of a creature with balloons for eyes! It's clear that the music that goes along with World of Goo is every bit as twisted as the levels it goes with.  It’s so amazing that you’ll want to play a level just ONE more time, JUST to hear “that one song”! These amazing sound effects and music give it a nice 10 out of 10.

VISUAL

Words cannot express the amount of “OMG“ you will face when first launching up World of Goo. The first thing you notice when you fire up the game is the "Blob" cursor replacing your standard mouse. More excellent effects greet you as the startup screen progresses. Soon an
entire animated world pops up showing distinctly the different sections of "GooLand" with characteristic and satisfying animations for each one.  Click into a section and Dynamic, fluid animations and nice scrolling parallax backgrounds await at the level select menu.  And we haven't even gotten into the game yet! When you enter a level, you are first greeted with a scrolling view, maybe a cutscene. You can then click on the bouncing sign, which gives you information on the level. Soon, you’re clicking around and dragging the cute, animated little blobs that are your heroes. They look as good as they taste, too! After playing for a while, one might begin to feel a little attached to the little guys--which is a first in gaming history for me!

Surreal landscapes, warped creatures, and squishy globules mesh together into a
very pleasing dynamic work of imagination.  I can truly say that World of Goo has innovative
graphics and unique and beautiful art style all its own, surpassing every game I have ever played. This gives it a 9 out of ten for the visual.

GAMEPLAY

World of Goo Is surprisingly lukewarm, if you can say that. It’s just right--not too hard, not too easy. That’s not to say that it won’t get hard--because believe me, there will be some “So THAT’S what the answer is! DUH!” moments. It’s just that the insanely hard and incredibly easy levels all balance out, so as not to ever make you want to quit (until your legs are as weak as goo from sitting down so long). And there’s another thing--if you really, really, really hate a level you can just skip it--at the cost of one skip. But you won’t want to skip it, merely because of the ingeniousness of the levels! In one level, you’re actually climbing out of a frog’s belly, carefully rearranging your vines so as not to fall, but so that you can climb up the creature’s neck! The variety of goo balls is astounding--there’s your standard goo balls, then you have your vine balls which can be rearranged to fit your needs, and they also seem to have extra stickyness. Of course, then you got your water goo balls--only one link to any other goo ball, and they just fall down. If you have water gooballs, then you absolutely have to have balloon gooballs, right?! Of course! Float away all majestically, then suddenly drop to fall into a certain hole. I could go on and on about the types of goo balls, but I will not. For any good structure building system, you need physics, right? Of course you do, and 2DBoy certainly put a lot of work into his goo physics system! Towers crumple onto themselves and fall, just like in real life. It also adds a lot of challenge to the game--if a tower is tipping, what do you do? Build supports? Lose weight? All these options are available, but you have to find them. Unfortunately, there is one bad aspect in World of Goo--though the levels are balanced out, some can be insanely hard. One can spend hours trying to figure out a solution to a level that seems to be just impossible! This drawback scores it a nine out of ten--not bad, for two men in a basement.

STORY

This is where World of Goo starts to tip on its tower of delectable snacks. The story in World of Goo is really…non-existent. It’s easy to understand that the goo balls are on an adventure, but you don’t really know what’s going on in the story! It’s just a bunch of levels with a few cut scenes. So while a story may be partially there, it’s really not noticeable. This, unfortunately, tips the tower and gives World of Goo a four out of ten.

REPLAY

But wait! The tower is righting itself! The goo balls rejoice! Huzzah, there are more good parts to be mentioned! Long live the tower of goo! Ahem--sorry, I digress. World of Goo has replay ability, oh yes indeedy! Players have to rescue goo balls by touching a tower to a pipe, whilst the goo balls travel towards the pipe. Every goo ball collected over the minimum goes towards the “World of Goo Factory”,  which is an open field when you first discover it. Players have to build towers with these extra balls,  with each cloud in the background representing another player’s height. One can go back into levels and try to rescue more goo balls, and then add to their towers. And considering the amount of levels, players will reach the 300 cap pretty quickly if they really try. You are basically trying to build the most structurally sound tower, whilst making it a tall tower. This is probably the place that you will spend the most time in, since there is no official level editor. But take heart! Fans have already made a level editor! Just check on 2dboy’s forums, and you will find a level editor. Now you can finally make that level with a pipe directly above a tower, and easily reach 300 goo balls. I look forward to the future of World of Goo corp., and give the replay score a nice 7 out of 10.

OVERALL

World of Goo is one of the most fun games you will ever play. There’s a free demo available on Steam, and it’s worth the minute or so it takes to download. 2D Boy has been generous, and included the full first chapter in the demo! Players should immediately buy the game if they have money on hand. That is, unless they don’t like the taste of goo in the morning. But honestly, who doesn’t? The goo balls taste amazing, and if I were a food reviewer, I’d give the goo balls a nine out of ten.

Nov
11
2008

Silent Hill: Homecoming (X360) Review

With Resident Evil straying away from the confines of the survival horror genre that it helped to create; there are still some that decide to embrace and then strangle these confines.  This is the best way to describe Silent Hill: Homecoming.

Story:

Alex Shepard a recently discharged soldier comes home only to find his hometown in a shattered state.  Pretty much every inhabitant has either disappeared or went psychotic and in the middle of all of this he has to track down his little brother.  As we tag along with Alex you meet the people he used to know, a woman he has some kind of feelings for, and get to know his family.  To be honest if I had a mother that switches erratically between despondent and Nurse Ratched, and a brother so irritating that he makes Arnie from What’s Eating Gilbert Grape seem cool I would only have two options.  I’d leave on the first semi truck, Volkswagen Bus filled with homicidal lunatics, or pick up truck being driven by the Ku Klux Klan I see or murder them.  But of course Alex being the good man that he is helps out.

The main concern with the story is that it takes forever to unfold.  You seem to spend the first half of the game looking for your little brother.  The moments where you actually interact with people and try to figure out what in the name of God happened to the town are nice.  And it’s also nice to know more about Alex’s past when he was growing up.  But moments such as these are too far and few between and you spend most of your time walking around darkly lit environments.  So the story of Homecoming takes a lot of patience to get into.
Rating:  7.5

Gameplay:

Pretty much every staple in the Silent Hill franchise makes a return.  Everything from the occasional mind numbing puzzles to being freaked out by the creatures exists in Homecoming.  The most notable change is the revamped combat system and camera angle.  Homecoming uses the now standard over the shoulder perspective, which gives you a front row seat to your descent into the macabre.  Since Alex Shepard used to be in the military he knows how to handle himself.  In fact this makes him the most formidable of the Silent Hill protagonists.  You’re no longer confined to pipe swings that look like they couldn’t kill a cockroach and blind shots with your pistol.

The melee system is leaps and bounds better than what it used to be.  You’re able to combo using heavy and fast attacks, plus you can dodge.  When you time a dodge properly and avoid an attack you can perform a counterattack.  This does more damage to the enemy, but you can’t combo again until after a brief pause.  While this is nice because there is a huge emphasis on melee combat it all doesn’t work well.  The part with the most problems seems to be the dodging.  There were many times when I tried to dodge either left or right and I just stood there.  Fighting really doesn’t work well in narrow corridors.  This is because you will just get caught up on a wall and get diced to pieces.  Another key problem is how ineffective the light is.  It’s like the flashlight is running on batteries that Alex found in a sock draw with the expiration date of 1985.

Another problem seems to be with weapon balancing.  For the most part I can accept fighting something fast with my weaker, but faster knife, but the axe really feels underpowered.  With an axe you shouldn’t be wailing on something for almost a minute while dodging and attacking.  The axe should kill something with 2-3 combos max.  While discussing the weapons it seems like Homecoming took a page out of Condemned: Criminal Origins book.  Weapons also have a purpose in exploration.  You won’t be able to open certain doors or pry something open unless you have a pipe or an axe.  This really just gets irritating when you actually try to apply some kind of logic to the situation. 

Just like with every survival horror game ammo is kept to a minimum, so if you use it you better not miss because you don’t know when you’ll find it again.  The same also goes for health items.  You’ll have to unearth the whole game to find stuff (especially in the middle) because there aren’t many.  It seems like you can find 3 health drinks per stage and if you have to fight a lot of things you just might use all of them if you’re not careful.

While this adds to the suspense and punishes mistakes it also becomes a headache.  One thing I noticed is that some enemies (for the most part Smog’s) are dangerous at close range and need to be shot.  And if you try to melee them you’re going to go through a potion or two.  A lot of the conflicts you can’t avoid because you will get chased.  It’s amazing the amount of persistence these creatures have.  They will follow you to different rooms, hop over obstacles and really just force you to kill them. It actually feels like they did this to make up for the lack of puzzles in the game.  I played a good portion of the original Silent Hill and I think there’s more combat in the first quarter of Homecoming than 50% of the original.

While the combat just gets tiresome you can at least get sucked into the atmosphere.  Homecoming does it’s best to be scary and in some points it is.  When you begin in the hospital and make your way through it you realize that the environment is cold and sterile and it just makes your stay there eerily creepy.  Other environments such as the abandoned hotel and Alex’s hometown look desolate and depraved.  This facet of the game is the only thing that makes it feel like a Silent Hill game.

I would actually have enjoyed Silent Hill: Homecoming a lot more if save points weren’t so sparse, but it really turns Homecoming into a chore.  This is because there tend to be a lot of fetch quests and if you die you might have to recollect all of those items and do all of those conversation scenes again.  What could’ve been “I’ll play for five more minutes” and then after that another 45 minutes elapse.  Turns into “After I hit that save point I’ll finish” and then save and quit.  There’s still the monotony of jiggling anonymous doorknobs and nothing seems to have eclipsed what was mastered in Silent Hill 2.  So while it does make an enjoyable game for a person that is a die-hard fan of Silent Hill it just doesn’t make an enjoyable experience for other players.  It doesn’t even do much to make strides in the genre; it just does what the franchise pretty much did when it first started.  The only thing different is the amount of graphical sheen that Homecoming contains.
Rating:  7.5

Graphics:

Homecoming
isn’t much to write home about.  The textures on a lot of objects are bland, the character models aren’t mind blowing and anything human oriented isn’t remotely appealing.  For some odd reason Homecoming comes to life in regards to creature design.  Everything you fight looks like it crawled out of Satan’s bunghole and looks like it can easily kill you.  Since American developers Double Helix made Homecoming they decided to use the visual style of the Silent Hill movie.  When you seem to get transported to the demon portion of an environment you would see the scenery turning gray and the environment starts to peel away.  Also on top of this the environment is more sepia toned and has the scratchy appearance of a bad 8mm home movie.  While you won’t be impressed by the humans or even the human environments; everything with it’s toes dipped in evil is pretty interesting looking.
Rating:  7.5

Sound:

The voice work is pretty good, but the only thing that really sticks out is the musical score from Composer Akira Yamaoka.  It strikes the right blend of ethereal melody and haunting.  It really just lets you relax, yet keeps you on edge at the same time. 
Rating:  8.0

Replay:

There are multiple endings that you can unlock and there are hidden weapons to unlock as well so it warrants a play through or two.  But this all depends on how much you liked the game in the first place.
Rating:  6.0

Overall:

What starts off as something that you slowly get engrossed into quickly becomes infuriating.  With it’s sloppy and forced combat, minimal health items and ammunition.  While this used to be the crux of the survival horror genre they now become detrimental factors.  Instead of finding new ways to innovate within the genre Double Helix just stays within the confines of it.  While there is some enjoyment to be had, but in order to find it you have to be a die-hard of the clichés of the genre.
Rating:  7.5

Nov
06
2008


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