So, I’ve been playing Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask for about 2 weeks now. Artistically speaking, this game is captivating. The attention to detail, vivid colors, and quirky characterization kept me interested. The music goes lovely with the game-play considering you are solving puzzles and not fighting some insanely large dragon with your magical chakram. This is the first Professor Layton game I’ve ever played and have not found the puzzles to be very difficult. There are, however, some oddly instructed puzzles that leave much to be desired. Developers, If you are encouraging the player to solve a puzzle do not give them overly vague instructions. It won’t be hard to figure these particular puzzles out but it’ll leave you with that “OMG THIS WAS SO EASY! I HATE MYSELF” kind of feeling. On the other hand, isn’t this what Professor Layton games are all about?
In this game, you’re attempting to solve the mystery of a powerful masked individual who seems to have a beef with the city of Monte d’Or and it’s inhabitants. It is up to you, and of course, Professor Layton, and his crew to save the day. The city of Monte d’Or’s inhabitants will provide the player an array of fun puzzles and bits of information that will lead the player to the next chapter of the story. That is pretty much how the gameplay goes about. You go from one place to another gathering bits of information that will lead you to the next area. Some people will even give you mini games!
So far, I’ve had a great time playing Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask. The visuals, voice acting, and just overall storytelling has been wonderfully done. I’ve been entertained for hours, proving that the game has officially served its purpose.
Score: 37 out of 40 Magical Masks
I played through the first Assassin’s Creed and thoroughly enjoyed it. The objectives were repetitive but fun, and the parkour-flavored platforming was fresh and exhilarating. The combat was generic, but the story was engaging and cinematic. It was new IP for the relatively new console generation. This exactly describes my experience with Uncharted 2 as well.
I later bought Assassin’s Creed 2 and Uncharted 3. After playing a few hours of each, I grew restless and bored. Man, these games are ridiculously boring. The only incentive keeping me playing was the story. If that was the case, then I might as well have watched a movie with a significantly reduced time and money investment. Why, though? These sequels were streamlined versions of their predecessors with bigger budgets for better production values. Why was I less amused by these games than by their predecessors?
The first time around, the cinematic presentation and parkour joyride were very entertaining. Playing another set of games just like them exposed me to the mindlessness of it all: I didn’t feel challenged in the slightest. Sully was being a prick and telling me how to solve puzzles if I took more than thirty seconds to look around the room. Fighting ten guards (one at a time, of course) on my way to climb church steeple after church steeple was absurd. Most insulting, what the hell was this so-called platforming. Both games’ have my character performing incredible gymnastic feats, while I casually mash the jump button and point the analog stick in the general direction of the very clearly marked path up a cathedral/enemy fortress/jungle/art museum. I was amazed I didn’t realize how mundane these mechanics were earlier.
As if that wasn’t insulting enough to a gamer’s finely tuned thumb muscles, Uncharted on PS Vita (a console I love despite its N64-like release schedule) allows the player to draw a path on the touch screen for Nathan to follow in platforming sequences. Just sit back and watch. Seriously, screw that. You know what game had amazing and challenging parkour? Mirror’s Edge. It was glorious. I’m still waiting for a sequel.
Each of these franchises is now being milked for all it’s worth. At least Sony has kept a decent pace with Uncharted, but Ubi Soft is cranking out Assassin’s Creed games so fast it feels like the next one should be subtitled 2k13 and feature a roster update. Sorry guys, but your “cinematic storytelling” paper mache Hollywood simulacrum is not enough for me to keep mindlessly mashing the A button. Hey, at least it keeps Nolan North employed, right?
I am about three hours into Gravity Rush on the PS Vita. So far I am really enjoying my time with the game. I could talk about the story, but that isn’t what prompted me to write this post. Instead, I’ll just summarize that it takes place in a city in the clouds and play as the game’s heroine, Kat. The game’s main play mechanic is the real star: Kat’s ability to control gravity.
Pressing the R trigger takes Kat into a weightless hovering mode, pressing R again shoots Kat into the direction you are aiming at with the right stick (or more annoyingly, using the Vita’s accelerometer to aim). Pressing R once more returns to hovering. Landing on a surface will set walking gravity to match it, allowing Kat to walk on walls and ceilings. Pressing L cancels all gravity control and drops Kat into a free fall towards the ground. This is all tied together by a draining gravity gauge, which will regenerate a few moments after Kat lands on proper ground.
So, why is this so cool? Aside from allowing you to fly around like a maniac and feel amazing freedom across the open world, it is the constraints that make it rewarding. You can’t just fly around forever; you have to use your gauge wisely. Sometimes you will change surfaces and directions so quickly you will forget which way is up and be very disoriented. When pressing L to free fall, Kat doesn’t land gracefully on her feet. Rather, she crash-lands at a high speed, destroying benches and scattering pedestrians. Other times, pedestrians will get caught in your gravity field and be pulled along with you, breaking free of your field halfway through, and then careen into the distance, never to be seen again. This bumbling chaos makes it very rewarding when you finally do pull off some cool moves and feel like a badass.
To point out some flaws, I would say the combat system is a little lacking. Most fights are reduced to mashing Square to kick at the enemies’ big red weak spots or flying and then pressing Square to dive-bomb at their big red weak spots. It’s not bad, it’s just not particularly interesting. Aside from that… wait, no. That’s it for flaws. The cel-shaded art style is beautiful on the Vita’s screen, and the catchy music matches the game’s steampunk aesthetic. The story is told through neat little comic panels which you can explore with the touch screen and motion controls. I am actually a little sad I am playing this from PSN Plus. I will need to eventually buy a physical copy, as this game needs a spot in my library.
I love the holiday season. I do, and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one. The main reason why I enjoy the holidays so much is the extra time off I get to play video games. Sadly, there is a downfall to this considering that I’ve piled up a hefty collection of un-played games. But! To every action there is a reaction, and in order to catch up, I must play, play, and play!
First things first, this game is absolutely breathtaking. It is friggin’ beautiful. This action RPG starts off with you being dead. Isn’t that wonderful? (Is it just me or is every recent game developer really into the whole zombie, undead thing?) Luckily, you aren’t dead for much too long and wake up admist a mountain of corpses . You, the player, are allowed to choose from 4 different races: Almain, Varani, Ljosalfar, and Dokkalfar which are pretty much variations of humans and elves. The game’s questing is pretty intense. At first, I was a bit overwhelmed, but as soon as I got into the swing of things I was side-questing like no other! I do have to mention, being a fan of storytelling, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning has such an interesting story and alternate subplots that it will have the player completely engulfed. Prepare to have your precious time taken away by this amazing game and not even realize it.
Seriously, I sat here for a good 5 minutes trying to figure out how to adequately express my love for this game. Guild Wars 2 has officially restored my faith in MMORPG’s. The game has five playable races: Norn, Human, Charr, Asura, and Sylvari. Each race has a distinct background which results in a different starting area. In addition, the races have eight playable classes: Elementalist, Engineer, Warrior, Thief Guardian, Necromancer, Ranger, and Mesmer. Now, when it comes to the questing, I’ve never had so much fun questing in an MMORPG since, well, ever. The game encourages players to help one another since there are spontaneous group missions that requires the assistance of other players. At times, you’ll find yourself joining a mission you’ve already done in order to help out the current group. When is this every truly encouraged in a MMORPG?! And don’t get me started on the crafting! Crafting in this game is a game within itself. Last but definitely not least, the game scales your character’s level depending on the quest you’re completing. So, if you wander into a lower level area you will be downgraded to that level resulting in a fun time for all.
Well, this game was cute. It was definitely cute. If you’re a fan of the cartoon then you’ll definitely enjoy this game. If you are not, most of the references will go over your head and you won’t understand the game’s quirks. Unfortunately, I felt it to be a little too short and lacking in depth. Other than that, the game is very pretty and kept me laughing the entire time.
Earlier this week, I bought Spec Ops: The Line on Steam. This was mostly because I saw it for an absurdly low price, but also because I had heard good things about it. The game received mediocre reviews largely due to its reportedly horrible multiplayer mode (which I have not touched). Even the game’s lead designer said the multiplayer was crap (using colorful language such as “rape” and “cancerous”). Sticking to the single-player mode, I can safely say it was a pretty great game with a thought-provoking narrative.
The Line plays like every other third-person shooter: running, gunning, and taking cover. The premise might even lead you to believe you are in for yet another military shooter where your patriotic squad of American soldiers goes into the desert to shoot terrorists-communists-weapons-of-mass-destruction-hoorah. If you require a little more intellectual stimulation than that, however, you will be pleasantly surprised. Without giving much of the story away, The Line breaks the mold a little bit in that for most of the game you are an American soldier shooting other American soldiers. In a US-led evacuation of Dubai gone horribly wrong, it’s up to the protagonist to investigate what exactly happened to the city and its inhabitants.
The game is very, very dark in its path. Instead of glorifying the killing the player enacts, it casts a dubious eye on it. The player is given the chance to look inward and think about the morality of war and the protagonist’s actions. I genuinely felt conflicted and guilty for the kind of things the game makes you do in order to progress, and that’s the point. Whereas a war film or novel might inspire sorrow and reflection in the watcher/reader, the nature of the video game form means that the player is the one taking these actions, allowing for an even deeper connection to the story being told.
In the service of keeping spoilers to a minimum and because I want to get back to playing Hotline Miami, I will just say fans of shooters should play this game, if only to compare and contrast what a good campaign mode looks like. The gamer who is normally put off by shooters might also want to give it a shot (heh), given its departure from the usual narrative. Also, Nolan North voice acting = win.
How and where do you spend your free time? Heck, if I had a penny every time I used my computer to chill out, well, I’ll have lots of penny’s… a penny-aire maybe? As it may be, you can find some happiness while you catch a movie on your tablet’s “Super Ultra HD” gorgeous screen. Maybe you spend long hours on your game console playing your most recent addiction, but at the end of the day you’ll surely stare at your dazzling, burning computer screen. If you had to choose one device to produce and consume (or entertain yourself) there is no surprise in saying that a computer might do the trick. So, what better place to play a game than on the same device that you consolidate most your free and productive time. All those people who use Facebook for long hours every day, what are their needs in entertainment? “Hey! I thought you where going to write about games, what’s up with Facebook?” I know, I know, just keep reading…
So for any reason, after a hard and long day, you are simply tired of (insert game here). Today you got home and didn’t turn on your game console. Maybe you don’t own one or you think that’s just for kids. Today, you just went directly to your computer and logged on to Facebook (or any other social network, maybe Ping?) Finally, we get to our question, what are people who use Facebook for hours every day looking for? They are looking for an effortless, simple way to entertain themselves by scrolling, reading, then scrolling some more. Why do you think Farmville had so many users, apart from being so damn accessible? It’s on your computer, the place you spent most of your free time, it’s built directly into your social network, and it has gameplay so simple that you can compare it to scrolling, reading and scrolling. Your mind makes no effort into switching from your news feed, to the game, it feels natural. Nature’s perfect way of accomplishing things is getting the most by doing the least. We want to get the most entertainment by doing the least work.
So, we first got onto the same gunship by stating that we all use computers as a mean of entertainment in many cases. Now, we stated that most of those cases, we are looking for simple ways of entertainment. So, where does all that leaves us…? How can we sum things up…? How can we find an answer to our quest for effortless and convenient entertainment…? Two words and an exclamation point my friend, Indie Games! These are video games created by individuals or small teams without video game publisher financial support (Wikipedia!). Here we find an extensive amount of games of all sorts of types of play. But there is one thing in common that a lot of Indie games have: their simple and convenient approach to having smooth and uncomplicated gameplay. As opposed to the realistic graphics in mainstream games, their visual appeal in every art style you could imagine will have you devoted to the screen. Who could have thought that after all these years, 8-bit looks as amazing and beautiful as 3D. I’m not saying that there aren’t any complex Indie games available. There are a many out there and more are made all the time, but I’m appealing to the most casual games you can play on your computer. Since the majority of Indie games are made by a small group of people, the result is straight-forward games, created by a community with the purpose of giving you the best time of your life.
I’m not saying that there is no room for games like Mass Effect, but as you may have noticed, I’m not thinking about games that need an ultrasonic video card or a nuclear processor so it can run perfectly on your computer. It wouldn’t be fair to compare these two types of games (or maybe it takes more cognitive knowledge than I posses), and not everyone has the hardware to play them. At the end of the day what matters is how much fun you had, especially if it happens literally at the end of the day, when you are tired and looking for a quick play. Games like Super Crate Box are the best example there is. Simple, fun, addictive and on your computer, making it accessible. People with kids know that getting some “me time” on your home game console can be difficult some times, so that’s where some Indie games on your computer come in handy. It shouldn’t be long ’til your kids come and be amazed on how original and distinctive the game looks.
Games like Super Meat Boy, Super Crate Box, and FTL have a more genuine “game” feel, than Farmville or any other game you may find on your social network. They feel like they were made for you to have fun (instead of drain your wallet with micro-transactions) and you appreciate and fall in love with that idea. Unlike that zombie-like feeling you get while playing Farmville… I know, I went trough that. These Indie games are equally accessible and cheap. They offer more variety, occasional challenges, and frustrations (FTL I’m looking at you!). So go ahead and get one of these Indie titles and have a great time on the same comfortable spot you read your news, check your emails, and watch your movies. “But hey!”, you might say, “I use my tablet more when I get home than any other device, you know, laid back with the T.V. on, you didn’t mention my needs”. Well, I’ll get back to you soon.
Today, I’ll be informing my fellow geeks about the unimaginable mysteries contained within the Loot Crate box. First things first, Loot Crate is an exciting new service providing gamers with gamer gear and accessories. This business venture is pretty neat considering there hasn’t been anything like this around (at least to my knowledge) and so far, they’re doing a pretty good job. Initially, I had bought the three month subscription but decided to extend it an additional three months. Luckily, the kind geeks at Loot Crate give these wonderful little promotional gimmicks to all of the subscribers who are either enrolling for the first time or extending their previous membership. In my case, I’ll be getting a pretty nifty Adventure Time lanyard. However, these promotions vary from a percentage off to an exclusive item like a key chain or lanyard. Oh, and before I forget, Loot Crate also gives out a Mega Crate which contains an ultimate gaming surprise that is gifted to a random subscriber every month. Now, the October crate was pretty nice. It was zombie themed and contained all of the objects on the image below:
I, although enthused by the creators of Loot Crate products and ideas, am glad to see that they’re working towards perfecting their services. I’m looking forward to seeing (and using) their finished website (which will allow the subscriber to provide valuable information such as, sizes, interests, billing information, and gender). For a fairly new company, they’ve done a lovely job in catering to their select audience.
Rating: 40.5 out of 50 Zombie Tails
There are a couple of new releases for the Nintendo 3DS that I am really excited about this year. Let’s start with a game series after my own heart: Harvest Moon. The new title is Harvest Moon: A New Beginning, and from what I can tell, the developers have taken the series in a somewhat new direction by making the game more customizable. As a faithful fan of the series, I am absolutely enthralled by the new changes. If you’re a player of these types of role-playing games, the idea of making the game more personal is a smart move. I love being able to customize my character but what? Wait, you mean I can customize my property?! Holy mother of cod, this customizable game will obviously result in hours spent finding the perfect spot for EVERYTHING. To top it all off, the game looks beautiful with it’s quirky round-shaped animals and cute looking characters. But, what caught my eye, was the couple of new additions to the farm in regards to new crops and animals.
Well guys, this title should be released by November 6, 2012. However, Natsume has been releasing the game early to some of their customers (which has me kicking myself in the rear for not pre-ordering with them), and you can still preorder online with them and get a cute stuffed yak as a preorder bonus. You can find an awesome trailer below.
All Hail the mighty Battlemech!
Yes folks, Mechwarrior is back in a very big way as a Free2play Online experience. Now that the NDA has been dropped I can finally reveal what I have been testing for the past 5 months. First things first, Mechwarrior Online is a return to the old formula in which you strap yourself in the cockpit of a walking battletank and wreak havoc against the enemy on a slew of battlefields. But now the difference is the online component. No single-player here friends, everything plays online. As of this writing the battles are 8vs8 with plans to increase to 12vs12 very soon. There are 16 battlemechs to choose from, each with at least 4 variants. Customization comes in the form of weapon, engines, armor, internal components such as sensor, and modules (you can even add a dancing hula girl in the cockpit).
Now, you may remember that a problem with these games was that in order to win you would have to scale up to the biggest, heaviest mechs. Not in this game. The use of the different types of mechs can determine the side that wins. Light mechs are fast and are great for scouting and hit and run tactics. Mediums are the soldiers of the field, with good speed and armaments. Heavies are slow with heavy weapons and armor great for support roles. Finally Assaults are bristling with weapons and heavy armor but are the slowest of the bunch. So while it may seem like a full group of 8 Atlasi (the heaviest assault mech at 100 tons) will win you the day, it isn’t always so. From my playtests, a light mech can take out an assault mech with sheer speed and maneuverability.
While you fight these battles, you get C-bills to use for buying more mechs and upgrading your current machine of destruction. Also, you can buy MechCash which are real money transactions like Xbox Live Microsoft Points for buying exclusive mechs and upgrades. You also earn experience points to improve your pilots skills on whichever mech you are piloting. So if you like a particular model, you can master it. While the learning curve is not very steep, it takes a while to learn to control the metal beasts, and its slow pace might put off CoD and FPS fans. However, do give it a try, especially if you have a group of friends to play with. Team play is very important, and when the faction war is added as you fight for control of the Inner Sphere, it will be more so.
If you liked the old Mechwarrior games you will feel right at home. If you are new, welcome to what driving a machine of war that can squash your car in a single step and blast your house to tinder in a single shot would feel like.
You can play MWO starting this Monday as it rolls into open beta at http://mwomercs.com/