Review

March 18, 2012

Dear Esther: The Chilling Review

If you’re here you probably saw this game on Steam or heard about it from a friend.  I should probably start out by saying this isn’t really a game, not in the traditional sense really, as there is little or no player interaction other than walking through the map.  The game and story are drawn out by narration of  several individuals.  The distinction between them seems to blur as the game goes on and it’s left up to the player to interpret who is actually talking to them.  Having said that I found myself very intrigued by this game and it sucked me in from beginning to end.

As mentioned above the story is driven purely by narration and the player is left to put the pieces together.  The story takes place on one the uninhabited Hebridean islands.  As you progress through the map you will see many things written on the wall, many items and objects in the environment that give clues as to what happened there.  The game actually puts you on the edge of your seat during certain sequences as things are tense even though they are calm.

While Dear Esther may not be a game in the traditional sense of the word it is easily one of the most beautiful games I have ever played.  There is a section of the game that takes place inside a cave and I can say I have never been more in awe at the detail and beauty ever rendered on a screen.  Cyan Worlds, the developers of Myst, should take notes from these guys or higher them on because I have never seen something so beautifully rendered.

The images of the game are made that much more impressive with the sound that goes with them.  Going back to the caves the sounds that accompany them just make thing ‘hauntingly beautiful’.  The sound of the water hitting the shore, fall of water into a pit in a cave, burning of fire, sounds of your foot steps, rattling of chain link fences and the music all come together to make a very engaging  and immersive atmosphere.

The only real problems with this game is that it was very short, as in 2 hours, and I would have liked to get a little more story or seen maybe a few more environments.  Some of them just brought chills to my bones.   That all being said the $9.99 price tag is worth the price of admission.  I’m curious to know what some of our readers thought of this ‘game’.  Did you guys enjoy it?  If anything I would encourage all of you to watch the slide show of the images.  They are  sight to behold.  I took them in Eyefinity 5760 x 1080.

Dear Esther

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March 18, 2012

Dear Esther: The Chilling Review

If you’re here you probably saw this game on Steam or heard about it from a friend.  I should probably start out by saying this isn’t really a game, not in the traditional sense really, as there is little or no player interaction other than walking through the map.  The game and story are drawn out by narration of  several individuals.  The distinction between them seems to blur as the game goes on and it’s left up to the player to interpret who is actually talking to them.  Having said that I found myself very intrigued by this game and it sucked me in from beginning to end.

As mentioned above the story is driven purely by narration and the player is left to put the pieces together.  The story takes place on one the uninhabited Hebridean islands.  As you progress through the map you will see many things written on the wall, many items and objects in the environment that give clues as to what happened there.  The game actually puts you on the edge of your seat during certain sequences as things are tense even though they are calm.

While Dear Esther may not be a game in the traditional sense of the word it is easily one of the most beautiful games I have ever played.  There is a section of the game that takes place inside a cave and I can say I have never been more in awe at the detail and beauty ever rendered on a screen.  Cyan Worlds, the developers of Myst, should take notes from these guys or higher them on because I have never seen something so beautifully rendered.

The images of the game are made that much more impressive with the sound that goes with them.  Going back to the caves the sounds that accompany them just make thing ‘hauntingly beautiful’.  The sound of the water hitting the shore, fall of water into a pit in a cave, burning of fire, sounds of your foot steps, rattling of chain link fences and the music all come together to make a very engaging  and immersive atmosphere.

The only real problems with this game is that it was very short, as in 2 hours, and I would have liked to get a little more story or seen maybe a few more environments.  Some of them just brought chills to my bones.   That all being said the $9.99 price tag is worth the price of admission.  I’m curious to know what some of our readers thought of this ‘game’.  Did you guys enjoy it?  If anything I would encourage all of you to watch the slide show of the images.  They are  sight to behold.  I took them in Eyefinity 5760 x 1080.

Dear Esther

[img src=http://www.thegamersblog.com/wp-content/flagallery/dear-esther/thumbs/thumbs_2012-03-18_00001.jpg]
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December 26, 2011

Command & Conquer: Red Alert– an iOS Game Done Right.

Hardcore games are not hard to find on any smartphone platform, Apple’s iOS included. With most of these titles, the hardcore gamer demographic generally has a universal complaint: controls. Shooters, platformers, action games and RPGs all prove to be substantially more challenging and off-putting because of the lack of tactile feedback from a touchscreen interface. One game genre, however, doesn’t have this hangup: Real Time Strategy. As a matter of fact, RTS games seem tailor-made for a touchscreen interface. That being said, I was skeptical when I first saw an official Command and Conquer franchise port to iOS– and got even more nervous when it turned out to be an extension of one of my favorite C&C series: Red Alert. Thank God I gave it a shot.

Not often will I pay for an app of any kind, but after trying the free demo, I bought the full version of Red Alert the very same day, and then later bought it for a friend so we could play together. I not only bought this game, I bought it twice, and it was worth every penny. The fact of the matter is that RTS is perhaps the only style of hardcore game that will ever be perfectly executed on a touchscreen, which is an insane bargain for its $.99 price tag.

The first concern for many gamers when looking at a hardcore mobile game is controls. Rest assured, the controls for this game, while they have a small learning curve, are completely sensible. Even with grouping different units together for an attack force, the onscreen controls are fast and intuitive. One draw back, however, is that you only get 3 hotkey slots for these groups. As seen on the right, the Apocalypse Tanks are back. In this screenshot, they are collectively following attack orders as group 1– hence the top group slot being highlighted in red. While at first the idea of only 3 unit groups is off-putting, it really doesn’t present much of a tactical issue. This sort of scaling back is fairly common throughout all aspects of the game, but sort of makes sense for the smaller nature of the iOS platform. One would hope, though, that the game would have a much larger unit cap with better hardware on later iDevices. Perhaps if there is a subsequent Command & Conquer title for iOS, we could even hope to see larger multiplayer functionality. In a perfect world, this would include support for more than two participants in any given skirmish or multiplayer match, and support for online play. Though all in all, it’s hard to complain too loudly about the first attempt at an official iOS C&C.

Now, the game is good as is when you download it from the App Store, and well worth a buck. I will say, however, that I also bought both available expansions, which were also worth every last penny (twice). The first is the map pack. Even if you’re content with only two factions, two stock skirmish maps is a little harder to defend. For an additional dollar, you get all the maps seen on the right in addition to the two the game comes with. This is a massive improvement for only costing a buck. And if you really wanna make the game seem bigger, The Empire of the Rising Sun expansion adds a complete third playable faction, and its own campaign– all for $2.99. While the compounded cost may scare away a few players, this is a lot of game for your money, and one with a nearly indestructible replay value. Besides, all that said, and you’re still only in it for $3.98. That’s a ridiculously low price for a quality game. Don’t believe me? Try the free demo. If you’re a fellow C&C fan, you’ll probably buy it just like I did.

December 26, 2011

Command & Conquer: Red Alert– an iOS Game Done Right.

Hardcore games are not hard to find on any smartphone platform, Apple’s iOS included. With most of these titles, the hardcore gamer demographic generally has a universal complaint: controls. Shooters, platformers, action games and RPGs all prove to be substantially more challenging and off-putting because of the lack of tactile feedback from a touchscreen interface. One game genre, however, doesn’t have this hangup: Real Time Strategy. As a matter of fact, RTS games seem tailor-made for a touchscreen interface. That being said, I was skeptical when I first saw an official Command and Conquer franchise port to iOS– and got even more nervous when it turned out to be an extension of one of my favorite C&C series: Red Alert. Thank God I gave it a shot.

Not often will I pay for an app of any kind, but after trying the free demo, I bought the full version of Red Alert the very same day, and then later bought it for a friend so we could play together. I not only bought this game, I bought it twice, and it was worth every penny. The fact of the matter is that RTS is perhaps the only style of hardcore game that will ever be perfectly executed on a touchscreen, which is an insane bargain for its $.99 price tag.

The first concern for many gamers when looking at a hardcore mobile game is controls. Rest assured, the controls for this game, while they have a small learning curve, are completely sensible. Even with grouping different units together for an attack force, the onscreen controls are fast and intuitive. One draw back, however, is that you only get 3 hotkey slots for these groups. As seen on the right, the Apocalypse Tanks are back. In this screenshot, they are collectively following attack orders as group 1– hence the top group slot being highlighted in red. While at first the idea of only 3 unit groups is off-putting, it really doesn’t present much of a tactical issue. This sort of scaling back is fairly common throughout all aspects of the game, but sort of makes sense for the smaller nature of the iOS platform. One would hope, though, that the game would have a much larger unit cap with better hardware on later iDevices. Perhaps if there is a subsequent Command & Conquer title for iOS, we could even hope to see larger multiplayer functionality. In a perfect world, this would include support for more than two participants in any given skirmish or multiplayer match, and support for online play. Though all in all, it’s hard to complain too loudly about the first attempt at an official iOS C&C.

Now, the game is good as is when you download it from the App Store, and well worth a buck. I will say, however, that I also bought both available expansions, which were also worth every last penny (twice). The first is the map pack. Even if you’re content with only two factions, two stock skirmish maps is a little harder to defend. For an additional dollar, you get all the maps seen on the right in addition to the two the game comes with. This is a massive improvement for only costing a buck. And if you really wanna make the game seem bigger, The Empire of the Rising Sun expansion adds a complete third playable faction, and its own campaign– all for $2.99. While the compounded cost may scare away a few players, this is a lot of game for your money, and one with a nearly indestructible replay value. Besides, all that said, and you’re still only in it for $3.98. That’s a ridiculously low price for a quality game. Don’t believe me? Try the free demo. If you’re a fellow C&C fan, you’ll probably buy it just like I did.

September 4, 2011

Crysis 2: The Review

You all have probably read my initial impressions of Crysis 2 and it’s Multi Player demo and I was very harsh on it.  My initial complaints were the consolization of the title and the lack of effort showed within the demo. Against what I thought was my better judgement I decided to pick up the game from Intkeys.   I made the assumption that the final product would be just as bad.  If there is one thing I’ve learned from working in the IT industry for the last 6 years its to NEVER assume things.  That being I am forced to take back what I said about the demo.  Is Crysis 2 a consolized title?  In a way yes… it has been heavily streamlined to appeal to console audiences but that doesn’t make it a bad game.

Crysis to PC gamers is what Halo is to Xbox.  PC gamers wanted a new graphics benchmark and what they got wasn’t necessarily what they expected.  I’m going to call this out now before anyone starts complaining about this game not tearing up their system.  Crysis was one of the most horribly optimized games in history which is why it took systems so many years to finally be able to play it at max settings.  This isn’t to say Crysis wasn’t graphically demanding but that combined with the lack of optimization made it hard to run on the systems of the day.  Crysis 2 on the other hand is incredibly optimized… everything from the controls to the coding behind the scenes.  I’m running Phenom II X 965, 8GB DDR3, with an Radeon 5870 and I could max the game fully with the release settings on extreme.

Graphically Crysis 2 is just as gorgeous as it’s predecessor but in a completely different way. The original Crysis took place in a vast jungle teaming full of gorgeous wildlife where in contrast Crysis 2 takes place in a city.  One could say Crysis was a prettier game and they would be right.  That’s because a tropical paradise is going to be prettier then any major city, hands down, ever time.  You can’t even compare the two.  Could Crysis 2 of been better in the graphics department? Certainly.  Crysis 2 was touted to feature Direct X11 which is supposed to take PC graphics into the future.  However near release Direct X11 was removed from the product.   It was then announced that Direct X11 would be added at a later date.  The interesting thing is Nvidia was sure it was a done deal the DX11 would be released in tandem with their GTX  590.  However they recently stated that they aren’t sure if Direct X11 will be released at all for Crysis 2.  Regardless, even without Direct X11 Crysis 2 awes you with it’s visuals.  Massive buildings collapsing, bridges falling, explosions, and very realistic burning fires really add to the eerie atmosphere which is Crysis 2.

Crysis 2 single player is where the game really shines.  While the game starts off slow it really picks up near the middle and takes off from there.  Crysis 2 has streamlined how you handle your suit powers and it really lets you focus on the game instead of the radial menus that you had to mess with in the original.  The one thing that really stood out to me with Crysis 2 was the length of the campaign.  Needless to say I was expecting a 4 hour adventure that has become common in today’s FPS market place.  The most recent releases of COD:BO, MW2, BC2 and Homefront all follow this and then shove you into the multiplayer.  Crysis 2’s campaign rings in about 12 hours depending on how you play it.  I tend to take a little longer to play as I like to wipe out the enemy instead of sneaking around them and as such… I die alot.  That being said Crysis 2 can be played in multiple ways all of which will be enjoyable to different types of people.  Additionally you can upgrade your suit as your progress through the game.  Suit upgrades can be purchased by using Nano Catalysts dropped by dead enemies.

Overall Crysis 2 is a success especially in the single player department.  Crysis 2 campaign is better than Crysis in about every way.  It’s more focused, intense and moving then its predecessor and you actually feel for the character unlike the original.  I actually found myself comparing him to Shadow of the Colossus in the sense of as you progress through the story the main characters body is getting slowly destroyed.  Several scenes within Crysis 2 point to pain and agony the games is probably going through much like SOTC’s protagonist is slowly dying throughout the game.

Overall I loved Crysis 2 which is a complete surprise to me.  I started the game and couldn’t put it down until I finished and I actually found myself wanting to play it again once I beat it.  In my opinion Crytec should of used Crysis 2 to showcase what Direct X11 could really do.  While Crysis 2 is a great game in many aspects it’s held back from being a landmark title by a few issues.  One of which is the lack of Direct X11 but in addition to that there are several small issues such as texture blurring and AI problems.  I can recall several occasions where enemy and friendly AI were sitting right next to each other… neither one shooting at me or each other.  It was like they were best buds from high school.  While this is amusing it is distracting and can be really annoying at times.  There were also several times where you would be shooting an enemy AI and his buddy would just stand there like nothing was happening.  Crysis 2 is a great game even though it is held back by several issues.  I would suggest that you pick up a copy if for nothing other than the single player.

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May 24, 2011

The Witcher 2: The Review

Back in October 2007 relatively unknown developer, CD Projekt with Atari released The Witcher.   The original provided one of the most authentic, original and captivating RPG experiences ever to land on the PC or any platform for that matter.  The game was not without its problems however as it contained many graphical glitches, extremely long loading times between sequences and a censored version released in North America.  The company responded to these issues by not only releasing an updated version of the game but adding in new quests, graphical enhancements and reduced loading times but providing it free to customers who had already purchased the game.  In fact CD Projekt spent over 1 million dollars resolving the issues its customers presented to them.   Ever since The Witcher was released fans have been anxiously awaiting a continuation of the epic story which was The Witcher. 

The wait is finally over and The Witcher 2 has arrived and the question on everyones mind is “is it worth the wait”.  The answer to that is most definitely yes.  The Witcher 2 picks up immediately where the first left off and we take up our role as Geralt of Rivia as he travels the lands attempting to clear his name after he is wrongly accused for the assassination of King Foltest. 

Before we begin let’s get the bad, and yes there is some, out of the way.  The biggest issue this game suffers from is the ability to break quests.   You can do things in such a way that you will actually break key part of the quest to where you will have to reload the game and start over.  Remember the gamers montra “save often and love it”.  This can be incredibly aggravating when you have spent 45 minutes doing things around the world only to find out that you have to repeat them.  I actually found myself having to do this.   The difficulty in the game seems to be… off.  Even on normal I found myself getting trashed early on in the game to the point where I had to switch the difficulty to easy just to pass a certain stage.  We also have the problem that ATI/AMD owners have run into where there are numerous graphics problems abound.  Most of these issues, assuming the company follows its trend, should be fixed shortly in an upcoming patch this week. 

Sorry Crysis 2, step aside, you are not the graphics king on the PC.  With the possible exception of Metro 2033, The Witcher 2 is probably the best looking game on the PC or any other platform for that matter.  Some of the long distance visuals you encounter during your travels will leave you breathless.  The sun filtering through the forest tree tops will make you stop and admire the visuals.  The burning fires you will see while you move through the game looks freakishly like the real thing.  The Witcher 2 steps up the graphics across the board.  PC enthusiasts will be in for a treat as The Witcher 2 offers a wide range of graphical settings that you can tweak and set to your heart’s content. 

The story as with the original is top notch and the decisions you make are just as important as they were in the first game if not more so.  The story is so captivating that you will find that you have been playing for 5 hours and not even realize it.  The game has multiple beginnings, ways to progress and over 16 different endings depending on how you play the game.  The Witcher 2 does not have good or bad choices like your standard RPG and it can make some of the decisions that you make incredibly difficult and in some cases you may regret them *remember the gamers montra*.  The decisions you make not only affect the immediate situation but changes the way the entire game plays out.  RPG fans will not be disappointed with this. 

You are able to import your previous save game, however if you are like me you probably don’t have it anymore since you’ve probably upgraded or changed computers since them. 

The biggest standout in this game for me was the voice acting.  It’s top notch all the way through the game.  From the passer by comments you hear while walking down the street to the scream on the battlefield the voice acting is superb and that combined with the superior graphics and top notch story The Witcher 2 offers a really captivating and immersive world for you to get lost in and trust me you will get lost in it. 

The Witcher 2 improves upon everything that made The Witcher 2 and in my opinion is a better game than the original in many ways.  Anyone who is on the edge about buying The Witcher or The Witcher 2 I would urge you to do yourself a favor and pick them both up as you will not be disappointed.  The Witcher 2 is a fantastic game that should not be missed and it is one of the best games on the PC platform.  I should also note that this is a PC exclusive release and that is rare these days.  If you are looking for an excuse to build a new computer then The Witcher 2 is that excuse.  So tell your girlfriend goodbye, drop out of your classes and say goodbye to your social life as The Witcher 2 whisks you away to another world.

I should note that this is NOT a kid friendly game.  If you are a parent and considering to get this for your child I would urge you to not  as this game is brutal and violent and has several sexually explicit scenes throughout the game. 

The Witcher 2

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May 20, 2011

L.A. Noire

Ok so L.A. Noire came out last Tuesday and I dove right into it. Now I am sure people see the Rockstar Games and go “Ok, more GTA and Mafia type games.” Well here is what I say to that person…Shut up. Yes Rockstar published the game but L.A. Noire only borrows driving and combat from GTA, after that it is a completely different game. Noire goes back in time to L.A. in the 1940’s (1947 to be exact).  The premise is pretty easy to grasp. You’re a cop and you’re solving crimes. The best thing about this game is the story telling. As you play you feel like a detective and you start to run the outcomes through your head trying to solve the case. You start as an average patrolman and work your way up the ranks to traffic cop, homicide, etc. A neat feature is as you progress you have a partner who helps out with giving you directions, driving, or giving an opinion on the current case.

The gameplay works like this: you and your partner get assigned a case. You go to the crime scene, look for clues, and question witnesses or suspects and that will then turn into other leads to continue the investigation. Each case plays like an episode, but as you go you will start to see a bigger story ark. The attention to detail in this game is something you would only think t0 find in a great rpg. When your collecting clues you can look all over the crime scene finding things useful and finding things not so useful. Whether examining the body or looking in the bushes for more evidence there is always something interesting to find.

After you have collecting all the clues (or what you think is all of them) you can interview a witness or other P.O.I.’s (person of intrest). This is a really fun and new feature to the game. As you ask questions you really need to pay attention to how the person reacts and talks. Everything from eye movements, facial movements (yes they can show expressions) to body language needs to be considered. They really did a great job and making the faces look real and have the lips matched up with the words they are saying. After they give you an answer you can select three options: Truth, Doubt, or Lie. Truth is simple. You think they are telling you the truth. Doubt is the option you pick if you think they aren’t telling you the whole truth. Then my favorite, you can call them out on a lie. However if you pick this you must back up your claim with a piece of evidence you have found. Now if you pick the wrong option you will not revieve xp points and I will reduce the points you can get at the end of the case. As I have found out, calling out people on a lie and being wrong makes them very, very angry.

At this point in the investigation, after clues are collected and people are questioned, is usually when the action kicks in and let me tell you I have seen it all. Running perps down on foot, car chases, and good ol’ fashion shoot outs are usually how cases get solved. Besides the main story, as you play you can respond to dispatch calls and go do little side missions which can consist of a shooter or a bank robbery. You can also commandeer vehicles incase you for some reason ramped a curb into traffic and destroyed yours…….you know, in case. You also unlock outfits along the way to change up your normal look.

So yea, L.A. Noire is a slower moving game. Not to the point of boring you but to the point of great storytelling. You mean I can’t just shoot everything and kill hookers?? Go back to playing Call of Duty please….this review is for big kids. I am not a kid! Ok then take your simple mind back to GTA and spam more rockets because that doesn’t make you have to use your brain and we know how bad it hurts you to use it. L.A. Noire is a fantastic game all around. I  am already willing to call this at least one of the top 5 games of this year. The stength of this game is the story and I hope that other games will see this and take note. L.A. Noire could be the beginning of a new way to play video games.

February 4, 2011

Two Worlds II Review

The Two Worlds universe has been some what of a hot topic when it comes to RPG fans.  You either absolutely love the game or you absolutely hate it.  Many people compare it to the likes of Oblivion and some tout it as the Oblivion killer. 

I’ve had Two Worlds II for almost a month now and I purposefully waited to do my review until now because I wanted to see what the major game sites out there such as IGN, Gamespot, and so forth would say about it.  The original Two Worlds got a bad rap because of alot of bugs, poor graphics, etc.  Two Worlds II seems to be getting similar flak from those game sites.  IGN giving it a 6.0 and Gamespot a 7.5. 

On a side note I’ve been under the impression for years that money buys you the best reviews and IGN and Gamespot seem to do this alot.  I cannot prove that they are paid to say good things about games.  However I find it strange that when a no name company releases a game they will constantly tag the title for being unoriginal, poor graphics, bad acting, etc if it is in competition with a game such as Call of Duty and give them a bad score.  However, when a new COD game comes out and it’s an exact clone of it’s predecessor like COD: BO they give it high praise while it’s competitor such Medal of Honor gets a bad score for the exact same reasons.  That being said lets get on with the review. 

Let me start by saying that when I started Two Worlds II I had very low expectations for the exact reasons listed above.  Reviews from popular game sites had given it bad marks and thus set my expectations extremely low.  However, and thankfully, my expectations have been blown away. 

I want to start off with talking about the graphics in this game and I’m going to have to bash Oblivion here.  The graphics in Two Worlds II are amazing.  There are some stunning “set pieces” within the game.  Everything from the wide open fields of anteloor too the bustling cities of Hatmandor and New Ashos have been well done and it appears that a great amount of time has gone into making them feel like real cities and the buildings inside of them all feel unique.  One of the biggest complaints I had about Oblivion was how empty the game felt.  You would walk into a city with huge cathedrals, massive homes, towers etc and you would only see 10 people in the entire city.  Two Worlds II has dozens if not hundreds of people walking the streets, hanging out at shops, living in homes, and it helps add to the atmosphere of the game.  The only complaint I really have about the overall look of the game is at times the glare from the sun can blind you and make it really hard to see where your going or the landscape looks so bright it can hurt your eyes and when fighting you can occasionally get caught in a spot where you can’t see yourself and your weapons stop dealing damage… this can be frustrating  but aside from that I was quite impressed with the game. 

Character models and animations are another standout against Oblivion.  The movement, fighting and facial expressions are far better in Two Worlds II.  I enjoyed the battles in the game and when you landed a hit on your target it actually felt like you were hitting them. 

The sounds and voice acting are a bit of a mix.  There are times when the sound quality of the game is fantastic such as with ambient noises, fighting and the talking of vendors on the street.  However, with voice acting,  there are times when the story’s protagonist is talking that it is extremely monotone but then at other times he’s completely bad ass and then goes entirely emotional.   It would of been nice if they would of just given it one personality and not made his voice acting so… schizophrenic.

Many reviews of the game tag the games story as being dull and unoriginal.  I found that I rather enjoy the story and I like the pace at which the story progresses.  I’m a fan of RPG’s such as KOTOR, KOTOR II and Mass Effect that follow the man quest takes you to location A and at point a you do tons of side quests and when you finish you move to location B and do the same and Two Worlds II does just this.   I think this model of game play you can play though the main quest at a balanced pace AND it allows you to complete alot of the game at the same time and not just blast through it and miss 3/4 of what the game has to offer.  I was quite disappointed with Oblivion when I beat the game in under 10 hours and had done only a couple of side quests.  The side quests within Two Worlds II are enjoyable and refreshing.  Aside from having to go kill “killer beavers” that didn’t even fight back I found that I enjoyed every side quest so far. 

The leveling and potion systems are fantastic and the ability to create potions of almost any use is extremely useful.  We’ve all been there… we are low on health, stranded with now way to restore it.  Normally you would be dead right?  In Two Worlds II  you just hop into your potions tab and sift through the ingredients you have collected throughout the game and construct a health potion.  You can even make variants of the same potion that have different levels of potency and then save them to create them again at a later date.  I found throughout the entire game I was constantly changing the way I made potions and as I leveled up and my overall amount of health increased I found it easier just to  make potions on the fly instead of just creating a standard potion that I used all the time. 

In Two Worlds II you aren’t stuck with the character  attributes you have chosen.  If you progress through the game and decide that you no longer wish to be a Mage and wish to go slaughter the landscape with an axe you can do something called “regression” which will allow you to reassign your attribute points to another class.  This can allow you to mix things up if you are getting bored with your current skill set. 

Overall Two Worlds II is a great game… it isn’t a Dragon Age: Origins or Witcher slayer but it is a great game none the less.  Again I’m going to state that Two Worlds II is one of those games that you will either love or you will hate.  Two Worlds II has it’s flaws and if you can overlook those you are in for a fun and exciting RPG adventure.  If you can’t deal with those then I suggest waiting for The Witcher II.

 

August 5, 2010

Starcraft II Review

The time is finally upon us, after ten long years Starcraft II is now in stores and in our hands.  Starcraft II may well be one of the most anticipated games ever in the fact that it had almost 1 million preorders and it’s the fastest selling RTS in history.   There has been a lot of criticism about Starcraft II and the removal of several key features that were in the original such LAN support, and the separating of the title into three separate games and to ice the cake charging $60 which is $10 more than your average PC admission price.  Do these things really hold back the game? 

Having played through the single player campaign I can honestly say Starcraft II is one of the best single player RTS to date.  In addition to everything you’d expect from a classic RTS like Starcraft it adds several pleasing additions to the single player game such as being able to roam aboard the Hyperion (your command ship), the ability to interact with characters within the ship and to purchase upgrades for your units.  These additions help to create a much more in depth and personal universe and also allow you to add another layer of customization into how you approach the battlefield.  The original Starcraft was about 30 missions in length and this spread across 3 races so approximately 10 missions a piece.  In Starcraft II you play across about 30 missions almost all Terran and a couple of Protoss missions for good measure.  The campaign is good for about 12 – 15 hours and there are achievements even after you’ve beaten it.  Those worried about getting skimped on the single player campaign can put their fears at rest.

Starcraft II is a beauty to behold and while the game doesn’t take advantage of DX10/11 it still looks gorgeous and a lot of attention has gone into details.  The battles are pretty and if you have ADD you will be staring at them while your base falls apart around you.  There are simple details from the armor suits to the effects of lasers bouncing off the shields of Protoss carriers that really help enhance the universe of Starcraft.  Unlike its predecessor Starcraft II does a much better job in immersing you.  While the Starcraft did have cutscenes it didn’t really do much in progressing the story.  Starcraft II’s cutscenes really do help make a story for you to follow and enjoy.

Multiplayer is just what you’d expect from Starcraft and in all honesty it’s very similar to the original in many respects.  There are some units missing from multiplayer that are in the single player campaign and while this is disappointing in some respects it definitely isn’t a deal breaker.  The addition of difficulty settings in Starcraft II is a welcome surprise as in the original you had a once size fits all approach which was ok but didn’t really help once you got down the computer tactics.  Starcraft II will have you playing with and screaming at your friends until late hours of the morning. 

To summarize I’ve had a blast playing the newest edition of the Starcraft franchise.  There are some would tell you to hold out on the game until LAN play is returned, Real ID is removed and Starcraft II is made into one title.  I’m here to say if you’re holding on because of those small problems then you an idiot.  Starcraft II is a excellent game that improves on almost every aspect of the original and then throws in a crisp, exciting and well done campaign to boot.   Having said all this, my only grip will come with the expansions.  If the expansions bear a $60 admission price I will be quite disappointed.  I suspect that they will only be about $30, add another 15 hour campaign and some new multiplayer units.

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