Friday, September 21, 2012

DarkSpore PC Review

I came across this game while looking for a co-op RPG for me and a friend to play that wasn't a fantasy or middle ages type genre. We were mainly looking for scifi so this kind of filled the slot.
How did it fare? Well I will get to that.

Over all it was enjoyable to play though it was the demo version. I think it could be quite a bit more fun with a buddy hacking away with me but not much different over all. It felt like most other dungeon crawler Hack-N-Slash RPG games I have played in the past. Nothing besides the fact that my character was a monster and the environment reminded me that it was a scifi setting. The only thing that stood out a little bit to me was that it wasn't just one hero I brought into combat, it was a team of 3 that were hot swap-able at any time during play with a cool down of a couple seconds. Besides that it was the typical fare of special powers that were usable from an action bar after being gained from leveling up. Kill your way through the map to the end point, picking up DNA(experience) and loot along the way from dead enemies, chests and the randomly placed and seemingly useless destructible structures. Enemy types were quite varied, though besides the actual models, nothing drastically set them apart from run of the mill monsters.

So besides being quite meh in most other areas, the game controlled fantastically well! The smooth flow of combat and control tightness was really the only thing that kept me playing as long as I did in the demo. Though I will probably return to see which monsters I unlock next, I got enough of a feel for the game to write about it. Obviously the love of loot collecting was there but it wasn't a super special affair.

The story is really non-existent. You are a super scientist woken from millenia of cryo sleep to find that your genetic experiment that wiped out most of the universe has finally evolved into usefulness. These useful creations (your heroes) must be tracked down and unlocked in order to purge the galaxy of the mutated menace side effects of your experiments. That's about it, in the load screens the game tacks on some back story and history to each location but seeing as there aren't any NPCs that you converse with, it is mostly forgettable.

The main cool feature of the game is the crazy amount of customization you can do with the loot you pick up and equip on your characters. Each piece as usual goes on a specific slot, but the look and feel of that item on your monster and be custom sized, colored, and placed. I can see endless amounts of fun and combinations involved with this as long as the equipment is varied.

All in all it is a fun game and fairly entertaining, it would be more so with friends. Having found this on steam for $15 I've decided that I am going to wait for the price of the game to drop. Can't honestly say that I would be willing to spend more than $10 on this game.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Windows 8 and the new PS3

Windows 8

Well when I first started seeing screens and news of the new windows 8 I can honestly say I was less than thrilled. Good windows builds tend to skip generations, this one is looking to continue the trend.

I do not have a computer that I am willing to mess up then rebuild with a good OS so I have not spent any time with this versions beta. But honestly my reason for not liking the system actually has little to do with the OS itself as much as it has to do with what Microsoft is pushing along with the system.

This will be MSs flag ship for their new "App Store" which will be a closed platform exactly like Apples app store. What this means is that any application looking to get support on the new OS will have to get approval from MS to launch through the store or build for the OS as a whole. Meaning there will be far fewer reasons to run a windows system in the coming future. Having a closed system is not only a tool to cut out or leech off the competition but also a way to entirely squash the little guys.

I think this move will further push Googles power in the OS scene. They already have enormous power in the mobile arena, it is only a matter of time before their "Chrome Books" catch on.
Personally I hope this push for a closed platform flops entirely.

New PS3 Slim

PS3 Mini perhaps?? Either way I am pretty excited about it! It means PS3 is finally pushing towards more and more out of the box space! There will be two versions at launch, 250gb and 500gb. 
Though this is a move in the right direction, Sony still hasn't learned the lessons that Microsoft and Nintendo have as far as sales and getting market share.
Sony for years has been a leader in all things technology, they still haven't got software figured out yet I think. 

It is the games that sell the systems, they need to focus on their core franchises, they have only just started doing just that with bundles. Uncharted and God of War are reasons to own a PS3. Those should have been selling points and launch titles, not the albeit impressive list of capabilities that the PS3 had at launch.

They also need to do more special editions linked to their key franchises and bring more of them outside of Japan. They had GoW and MGS versions of the PSP 1k 2k and 3k, why not PS3??? I know I would shell out my gas money for the month for a GoW trimmed PS3!! Microsoft has this sales trick down to a science. I can't even count how many times friends have gone out and bought a new 360 simply because it had Halo plastered all over it and a few extra bells than the standard version. That is the reason why the 360 has a huge sales lead on the PS3, not to mention that few of them fail so there is much less need to go buy a new one.

Lets hope with that with the new generation of consoles on the horizon that Sony will not only have learned their lesson on software over hardware, but will be willing to spend a little money on fan service. I wouldn't mind having a few extra PS3s or PS4s around the house if they were a limited edition type build.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

LittleBigPlanet PSVita Beta - Impressions

When I got the email that I had been selected as a tester for LBP PSVita beta I was pretty excited. Even though I was never very skilled at creating levels, I enjoyed trying to make some of my own ideas come to life. Most of the time they ended up limping out the gate though. Some of the levels created by the community could easily be considered full fledged expansions to most other games though.
When the download and install completed there was an immediate update to the build I had downloaded. This tells me they are still constantly working on the systems that we know and love from the PS3 LBP games. The first thing I was impressed by was how great the game looked graphically. Besides the small screen, the game could have easily been mistaken for its console predecessors. All the controls were the same, as were all the animations. Everything we have come to know and love from the console versions was there.

There was of course added functionality for the equipment that the Vita boasts. Specifically the touch screen and rear touch pad. There were four developer made levels to play on when I logged on to play the game. All played brilliantly until I had to use the touch features. When something required me to drag/pull on it with the front touch screen obviously my hands had to leave the controls I would normally be occupied with.

The rear touch pad didn't seem to get as much use, at least with the levels that were present at the time. One of the levels is however controlled entirely by touch. It is interesting but doesn't feel like the LBP I grew to love.
The other thing that really bugged me was the completely broken nature of the net code. Now obviously this is a beta, but the game is built around playing with others and community involvement. I was honestly hoping that I could enjoy slapping other players while I was waiting around at the airport or wherever non-productive waiting is done. Sadly this is not the case as of yet with the beta anyways.
All the advanced level building features we saw added with LBP2 are still present. Thankfully the touch screen controls shine like a diamond when used here. No more slowly moving the sack boy around the screen or constantly pressing directional buttons for menus. Everything can be done with a simple and quick swipe or touch.

Overall I completely enjoyed my time with LBP-V beta. Lets just hope they have everything ironed out before launch. One thing that might become a problem though would be user generated content using up a lot of space on the vita storage card. There's a lot of user generated content already which means the community is already alive and kicking for plenty of new and interesting ways to play.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Dragon's Dogma: Review

Dragon's Dogma is an Action RPG that takes place in a land full of monstrous creatures, magic, and many adventures. The game offers up several renditions of many types of monsters and bad guys, which lend to an every changing enjoyable experience in the game. Dragon's Dogma serves up lots of loot, beautiful scenery, story filled side quests, generic hunting side quests, and a good, yet somewhat confusing, story.

In Dragon's Dogma you play as the Arisen, a character who has had their heart stolen by The Dragon. You soon get to make a secondary character, called your Main Pawn, who you mold into any support role you see fit.  You can also hire two support pawns to round out your party.  This allows you to have a customized party to fit whatever style of playing you want to do.

The game offers a nice job class system that can be utilized to customize your specific style of game play even further.  You and your pawn can take on three normal vocations, Fighter, Strider, and Mage, and three advanced vocations, Warrior, Ranger, and Sorcerer. There are also three hybrid vocations, Mystic Knight, Assassin, and Magick Archer, which only your main character can use.  The normal and advanced vocations are nice, but the hybrid vocations really allow you to become a powerhouse by mixing up the weapons and armors you can use with your character. All of the classes are properly evened out for the most part to allow great gameplay no matter what you want to be.

I started out with a fighter, made my pawn a strider, and hired a mage and another pawn to round out whatever type of team I needed at the time.  I have to say I didn't care for being a mage myself, because it seemed slow to level. However, upon starting NG+ with a mage I like it more.  My complaint is that the mage takes a longer time to do any attack especially skill attacks. The mage does auto target enemies which really helps out though.  Bow users must always aim, and sometimes make adjustments for distance or movement. Straight malee users will have an extremely hard time with some enemies, because a lot require you to have ranged attacks of some sort.  So far my personal favorite vocation is the assassin, which mixes a fighter and strider, and allows you to use either a sword or daggers and bow or sheild. You get all of the good stuff at once.

There's loot, which we all know makes a game ever more addictive. The armor and weapons in the game can be upgraded up to 4 higher levels to make it even better. Upgrading from level 0 to level 1, 2, or 3 costs gold, and materials you've found or purchased.  Upgrading to level 4, or Dragon Forged, requires you to fight one of the 5 types of dragons in the game. The story's big boss, "The Dragon," will Dragon Forge all of your armor and weapons. However, the other 4 types of dragons randomly Dragon Forge your level 1 or higher gear. As for materials, you can usually use or craft better items out of whatever you find. There are plenty of curatives found in the world if you scavenge for them so you don't have to run to a shop before to buy them before you set out every time. You can even upgrade low level curatives to be more powerful.

The story is great, but does have some crazy aspects. Some parts are just twisted.  After You've beaten the game some major changes take place, and you are able to grind with harder monsters or move on and finish a post story part of the game.  After the post story has been completed you start NG+, which is the whole adventure over again. However, NG+ adds some new quest board quests, which give some major gold.

A few other great features include a built in screen shot system that allows you to upload to the official pawn community, a decently extensive character / pawn editor, an in game currency purchase for a anytime character editor (White Knight Chronicles I'm looking at you and your $5 re-customizing pass), a post game dungeon full of extreme challenges, and infinite NG+ Playthroughs.

That's about all I can really say without going into major spoiler territory. If you enjoy Western RPGs, Action RPGs, or all RPGs, like me, then you will probably love this game. I'm well on my way to 200 hours, and have no plans of putting it down any time soon.

Rating: 9.7/10

Monday, June 4, 2012

Demon's Souls Review

   Demon's Souls is a very challenging, yet rewarding game. Before you master the first level, you will already have around 30 deaths on your save. If you do not cheat, by the end of the game your death count will surely be around 500.

   I really like RPG's, because of the amazing story. For some reason, this game did not satisfy my needs when it comes to story. I didnt get it at all, it was either too complicated, or too simple, forcing me to think about it. Obviously the more I think about it, the more my brain makes it complicated so it goes above human understanding. You are simply thrown right into action as the game starts, since you are in something that seems to be a castle dungeon, and you get attacked by a boss right away. Obviously, you die and are taken to a place called the Nexus where all of the NPC's are waiting just to rip you off. Right after the tutorial (yes, being killed by a boss is part of the tutorial) you go to the first of the five worlds, to regain your body by killing a demon. Getting to the demon, though, is no easy task! You must first prove your worth by opening the demon's gate, which is opened by penetrating two towers and cutting the chains. I assure you, you will get around 20 deaths opening the gate in the first level. Once you defeat the first demon, you will be taken back to the Nexus, where the black maiden tells you to see the monumental, who you would expect to be a huge statue, but no its a little girl sitting with other dead "monumentals". The monumental tells you the story and why you must defeat all the demon's, and then the story simply stops being told after that point. Now you have access to all five worlds to complete at your will. But this game is not for the weak, I rage quit in the second stage of the first world after getting 50 deaths and wasting 7 hours at a single checkpoint. I did go back to the game eventually though, and finished it.

   The gameplay of the game is where it's at, the gameplay is simply awesome. Demon's Souls is an action RPG game, with very unique online. Let me take a moment to explain the online. This game's online does not have lobbies, or even voice chat. if you are connected to the internet, you are forced to play the game online, you cant say no. Players help eachother out by placing signs on the ground, either telling you something is a trap, warning you about a boss and telling you his weakness, or even simply trolling you by telling you there is a hidden path but in reality you are simply going to fall. Players can also place a sign to be summoned, and help other players with the game. If you successfully help someone, you get to keep all the souls (currency) and are reverted back to human form. Being in human form grants you more health, and you are able to summon others to help you. That is not always a good thing though, since you can be attacked by black phantoms, who are bloodthirsty players just waiting to rob you of your precious souls and humanity.

   Souls are the game's everything. They are both money, and XP. You can either chose to buy nice armor and a good sword, or level yourself up, tough choice. Oh, did I mention every time you die, you lose all your souls? yeah, that happens. It feels awful when you are carrying 100,000 hard earned souls and out of nowhere you die and cant get back to your body to reclaim them.

   Personally, I would only recommend this game to the HARDCORE PS3 gamers, those who are willing to go through a lot of mental suffering and broken controllers just to get the awesome feeling of satisfaction when you defeat a boss for the first time. It is a great game, but half of the people that play it will rage quit on the second level like I did. Don't get me wrong, I did eventually go back to the game two years after my rage quit and finished it, and it was really rewarding. I wish I could go back in time and experience Demon's Souls again for the first time. There is still Dark Souls, but that game is not as good as Demon's Souls, and it is a LOT harder! I've been stuck on the same level for 2 months now... I think im just gonna rage quit that and go back to playing Demon's Souls

Rating: 8/10

Zelda: Link's Awakening DX Review

Zelda: Link's Awakening DX

   Zelda Link's Awakening DX is a remake for the Gameboy Color of a game originally released for the original Gameboy. I have honestly never played the original version, but from what I heard, DX includes a secret dungeon, and of course, it is in color. 


   The game starts with Link waking up in a house on an island, and he doesn't know how he got there. He is given his shield, and you are put right into the action.. the only problem is that you do not have a sword yet. Link goes to the beach, where he finds his super awesome sword which he uses to slay all enemies. Although you may think you are alone, unlike in the new Zelda games, there is no fairy to accompany you. There is however a friendly owl that tells you where to go next during the key events of the game, such as getting a key to enter a dungeon, and when leaving the dungeon. There are also owl statues that are placed around dungeons to help you out on your quest, but sadly they speak in riddles and are often hard to understand. About half way through the game I just stopped reading what the owl statues had to say, since they often made no sense at all. Other than the owl, there is also a man who likes to chat on the phone. There are many "houses" with a telephone sign on them spread around the island, and they only have a telephone in them. You use the telephone to call the old man, who tells you where to go next, and really helps you on your adventure. The man is located in the first village where you start, but if you go to his house he is very shy and asks you to leave. 
   As I stated above, there is a secret dungeon that is called, the "Color Dungeon". The reason it's called that, is because you can only complete it on a Gameboy Color. The dungeon mostly consists of color based puzzles. Sadly, the challenge was not too great and I was able to complete that dungeon in around 30 minutes. The dungeon does have 3 bosses, but I only found one of them to be challenging. The reward for completing that dungeon is far to great for the difficulty, since you get either Red clothes, which double your strength, or Blue clothes, which double your defense. 

   The game is very big, especially considering it's a gameboy/color game. The map is also huge, and takes some time to complete. This Zelda title is very fun, and has a lot of Mario references, such as a Yoshi doll, or even after completing a side quest, you get to see a picture of Princess Peach doing the "duckface" which is very strange for the early years. The dungeons are pretty difficult, and so are the bosses. Some bosses require a lot of strategy to defeat. 

   I picked this game up for 6$ on the 3DS store, and I am really glad I made the purchase. The game is very fun, very challenging, and of course, pretty long to complete! If you have the money and a 3DS, get this game from the store. If you dont have a 3DS, the game should be pretty cheap on ebay for the gameboy considering you still have one. 

 Rating: 9/10

Budget Co-op Fun!

Multiplayer gaming is all the rage these days! I remember when split screen was the only way it was possible. Now split screen is a rarity, but online co-op is still around. There are still a few gems out there, if you are willing to look past the less than blockbuster development budget. This time I will be focusing on disc based PS3 games. I will add videos for these games as soon as I can so be sure to check here for updates or keep an eye on the youtube channel!

So without further ado! Great bargain bin co-op action!

Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 2

Personally I have never played any other Dynasty Warrior games, but I have been told they all play fairly similar. It is pure mindless hack and slash action game. The game play is pretty basic but, there are combos for each Gundam that can be learned to maximize you kill count. There are several reasons I picked this game up, for one it was cheap. Also I always like games with big robots, even though I never really knew but about the Gundam universe. The amount of bots/mechs/gundams you can choose from to fight with is enormous.
The game supports split screen co-op and online PvP. Although most of the missions in the game can be played split screen, there are a few that can only be played solo. The online PvP supports up to 4 players in free for all shootout. Playing split screen farming for better parts for your favorite gundam is where the bread and butter of this game becomes addictive. The PvP is fun for a while but overall it is pretty dry.

Co-op Fun Score 8.5/10

Army of TWO: 40th Day

This game got a lot of bad press due it its semi homoerotic nature. There does seem to be an excessive amount butt slapping and high fiving. Lame 90s “bro” one liners aside though, the game play is fun as long as you bring along a friend. It is your typical cover based 3rd person shooter. Local split screen as well as online split screen is supported. Standard online multiplayer options are also present. There is a decent amount of customization for weapons and your face mask armor.
The enemy AI is pretty standard across all difficulties, only thing that really changes is damage taken and given. Personally for pure enjoyment normal difficulty is the best choice. Having a human partner not only makes the game much more enjoyable but it can significantly up your chances of survival in this game as an AI partner is next to useless.

Co-op Fun Score 7/10

Disney Universe

Great game to play with the family as supports 4 player co-op local. The screen can get pretty hectic though. It’s basically a Disney themed “beat um up” adventure game. The puzzles are light and if you have kids playing, or people who never play games; you can turn on the in game hints. Though calling them hints is an understatement as the game tells you exactly what you need to do every step of the way. Even though the game over all has an extremely low difficulty there’s enough cuteness and fun here for everyone. Each world has items you must collect to unlock other worlds or costumes.  Each world and of course costume is a Disney theme of some kind. The costumes each have a unique weapon that can be leveled up which in turn dishes out more damage and changes the weapon entirely.  The DLC support for the game is also surprisingly strong. Shortly after launch several costumes were available for download for free.

Co-op Fun Score 9/10

Fear 3

Great game great story line! Though not exactly fear inducing like the last 2 titles in the series, it is still a very twisted for mature gamers only story. That being said, the co-op play for this game is fantastic! Sadly there is no split screen, but the community is still thriving for this game so no worries really. This co-op however works a little different than most games. Instead of each player choosing the character that they want to play the host of the session always plays “Front Man”, the main protagonist for the story. Whoever joins their session becomes Fetel, the psychic younger brother of front man. The cool thing is that you don’t have to start a session and sit there waiting for someone to join before playing. Drop-in drop-out is supported regardless of what point in the story either player is at normally. Plenty of replayability thanks to the rank system which gives each of your characters new skills and strengths.

Co-op Fun Score 9/10

Sacred 2: Fallen Angel

This game is basically Diablo for consoles! Top down view HacknSlash dungeon crawling loot fest! For me personally I think the best part is that you can host a game and let people drop in and out of the game world you have been playing in, but not have to stay within a certain distance of each other.  Up to 4 people can play together online like I just described or you can play local one screen with one other person and 2 can join online. There are tons of hidden quests, easter eggs and, dungeons to be found. The max level you can reach is 250 and there are 4 classes to choose from. All of that together makes a great game to play with friends for hours and hours!!

Co-op Fun Score 10/10