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June 25th, 2011, 11:31
Call of Duty: Black Ops
Neither a World War 2 game, nor a sequel to the Modern Warfare series, but very much a Call of Duty game.

Story
You are Mason, a Black Op operative who wake up in a dark room filled with television screens that displays numbers. A voice urge you to tell them the secret of "the numbers". Your wtf response is replied by being shocked with electricity. Appearently they really want to know about those numbers. Faced with the situation, Mason begin to tell his story from the beginning to his unknown interrogators, played out by the player.

Masons story spans across a long timespan and in very different landscapes. Most of it during the 60'ies and the Cold War.

Call of Duty had some really good storylines in the past and the storytelling in Black Ops is no exception. The story is very well told and the way its told is exceptional. Characters are built up as you go along, clues about what's really going on is picked up here and there and many times the most significant events in the overarching storyline happens with a very graphic scene.

Engine: Graphics & Sound
The presentation in Call of Duty: Black Ops is exceptional. This is a game that fully utilized my x2 480 GTX. The graphics is really good, using plenty of shaders where shaders should be used. Often I just took a moment to just look at how good the game looks.

But graphics isn't everything, the game is also artistically beautiful, with plenty of flashbulb scenes that you remember after finishing the game. The game jumps seemingly between gameplay and cutscenes and cutscenes might very well contain some gameplay element that must be carried out (which aren't the quickly-push-the-right-button-that-appear-on-the-screen kind of actions thankfully).

Sound is equally good. Voice acting is great. Sometimes the game uses music that can be very fitting for the scene. One level where you control a boat is almost like a music video because you are simply riding the boat, shoot and blasts everything in the path with little danger, while listening to the song.

Gameplay
The First Person Shooter is very optimized, but almost every level contains new gameplay elements that you might not see coming. Many of these is about controlling vehicles.

There are a lot of different weapons in Black Ops. Weapons can feel very different in your hands, and an insuperior assault rifle is really insuperior. The fun part is that the weapons are different depending on which conflict you are in. This is evident in a World War 2 level where you must use World War 2 weapons. Once you are used with the firerate, accuracy and sights of the modern weapons, WW2 weapons were crap.

There are few "silent maps". Most levels are about pushing on, shooting continously until you reach the end.

One thing that annoyed me is that you really cant expect to make progress just by blasting foes. You can't stay in a convenient spot, shoot the foes and make progress when it's safe, because opponents keep pouring in without end. Sometimes you must either push on before they stop coming, or fulfill some requirement before it happens.

One level this became very appearent. After trying many times I was forced to look up a gameplay video on youtube to find out what to do. Foes was just pushing in, and if you somehow managed to get to the waypoint, nothing happened. You could stand in the turret and kill hundreds and thousands of foes, more would just come. To make progress you had to use barrels. The cue for using the barrels is told through vague radiochatter and you see a friend using one, but both cues are very easy to miss since you are preoccupied fighting the excessive amount of hostile forces.

Final Conclusion
The Call of Duty series have really been top of the crop and Black Ops is no exception. It even challenges the Modern Warfare games in story, gameplay and visuals. Someone who truly hates shooters can probably skip it, but one can enjoy a shooter just a little and enjoy a good story to keep you going should check Black Ops out. It's 16 levels can certainly be played through in an evening or two, but it is an intense and packed experience.

Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind. - John F Kennedy
An eye for an eye, and soon the whole world is blind. - Mahatma Gandhi
The world is my country. To do good is my religion. My mind is my own church. This simple creed is all we need to enjoy peace on earth. - Thomas Paine
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June 26th, 2011, 15:08
F.3.A.R.
The third game of this horror/scifi FPS.

Story
Major spoilers of earlier titles alert.

Spoiler


I can't say the story is that great. There are no major twists and turns that you didn't see coming. I earned the good ending (see gameplay).

The game is told through eight intervals that can be quite long, but the full game can be played through in a day. There is a question whether or not F.3.A.R. is a horror game or a scifi shooter. I say it's a mix that leans on a scifi shooter with horror elements. Walking around in Mech-Suits and fighting with an insane amount of weapons against an insane amount of soldiers doesn't score high on the horror scale. That said, they seem to have added some horror elements I haven't seen before such as Zombies and a dog-like foe that reminds me about the Pinky Demon from DOOM 3.

Engine: Graphics & Sound
The Graphics in F.3.A.R. is nothing spectacular. The game is somewhat dated when it comes to using technology such as shaders and prepare to see yesterday weather effects and clean textures. That doesn't mean the game looks bad so unless you are an engine freak you will probably not care. It's still artistically pleasent to look at.

The sound is spectacular. This is really a game to play with your volume up as the sound really helps to set the atmosphere. Wheather effects create a moody feeling, noise from monsters keep you on your toes and you can even rely on your enemies radiochatter to decide your next action. I found that listening to the audio really allowed me to make tactical/strategical decisions in combat.

Gameplay
Ah, gameplay. Gameplay is where F.3.A.R. shines. F.3.A.R. is simply a fun game that is fun. Earlier titles were strict first-person shooters with Bullettime as it's gimmick. To increase your bullettime you used to collect injectors scattered around the levels. Miss a couple and you had a rough time towards the end of the game. F.3.A.R. takes a different approach. Here we have a point-system that will allow you to level up and get better the more points you got. The way to earn points is to beat challenges divided into four categories; Agressive, Tactical, Aptitude and Psychic.

Aggressive simply means killing stuff with challenges like kill 20 enemies with the shotgun.

Tactical means playing smart and is more interesting. Obvious tactical challenges involve doing headshots or firing from cover, but there are also challenges like killing a foe right after slidekicking him, shooting at explosive stuff to kill foes or simply collecting items.

Aptitude means spending time in slomo or kill foes in slomo.

Psychic is a treasure-hunt. Scattered around the levels are hidden bodies that can be collected. There is also a rare Alma Doll somewhere on the level. When doing replays I noticed that the placement of these vary so you cannot be sure you will find theese where you found them before.

Do enough challenges and you both get stronger and it will even affect your ending. I earned the good ending by having beaten alot of challenges. I found that this system really made me try more of the game, and there is quite alot of challenges to do in the game, more than you are probably going to find on your first playthrough. Note that the singleplayer and multiplayer scores are connected, so points earned in the singleplayergame empowers you in multiplayer vice versa.

Beating a level once allows you to replay the same level with Fettel. Fettel is somewhat different since he do not use weapons, instead he takes over enemies and use them to kill opponents. I actually haven't tried this yet.

One nuisance I had though is that the game tend to lock doors behind you all the time. Imagine you see two paths out of where you are. Behind one might be a body or a doll that you want for your Psychic Challenges. Enter the other and the game will lock the door behind you and you can't go back. This can be really frustrating if you been very thorough up to that point in checking every corner for the Alma Doll.

Another nuisance I had have to do with how to setup your keyboard. I remember F.E.A.R. 2 also having this. Like all games the keyboard config blocks you from having the same key for two different things. The problem is that this also blocks you from using keys tied to Point Man for Fettel or for Vehicles. For instance, let's say you use MOUSE2 for jumping with Point Man. A Mech Suit can't jump, so why not be able to set MOUSE2 to secondary fire in the Vehicle settings? It's kinda annoying when you must find new keys you haven't used before, because you can't reuse keys set to functions which are tied to another playmode.

Verdict
For those who can forgive an engine that doesn't utilize the latest ghee-whizz stuff of DirectX 11 (or 10 for that matter) and those who can forgive the identity-conflict between a scifi shooter and a horrorgame, F.3.A.R. is in the end a good FPS. This is one of those titles that comes on top just because it delivers excess gameplay mechanics that actually works as intended.

Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind. - John F Kennedy
An eye for an eye, and soon the whole world is blind. - Mahatma Gandhi
The world is my country. To do good is my religion. My mind is my own church. This simple creed is all we need to enjoy peace on earth. - Thomas Paine
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June 29th, 2011, 17:01
Portal 2
If you haven't played Portal, do so now. Yes, do it, you fool.

The following I will only write in presumption that you have. The primary question is then whether or not Portal 2 equal or surpass Portal 1, skipping spoilers.

Story
Can the story in Portal 2 compete with the twists of Portal 1? I say it does. I actually didn't expect Portal 2 to challenge the first game but I say the new direction they have taken works and does include a couple of twists you didn't see coming. The story is good and it's fun in it's bizarre twisted humor.

Engine: Graphics & Sound
It seems the Source engine have been improved. Portal 2 have light and darkness which Half Life 2 did not. Also this is the first time I have seen fluids used in gameplay. Beyond that this is the Portal we are used to. Sure looks great.

Gameplay
Ah yes. Portal was great in it's gameplay as a first-person puzzlegame. The portal device naturally returns here, but this time around there are several new gameplay features from the first game. I did mention fluids and while there are other new gameplay features I think I will stick to explaining fluids.

The "gel" is often pumped out of pipes here and there. If you place a portal beneath it and another somewhere else you can cover surfaces with the gel, splashing it all over the place. Gels make surfaces bouncy so jumping on it makes you jump higher. Gels can make surfaces slippery so if you run on it you will run at an amazing speed. Or gels can simply allow you to place new portals wherever you splashed the gel. I found this to be a rather fun addition to the game, that yet again change the way we normally perceive the world. An impossible obstacle is suddenly doable once you splashed some gel on it. Cool.

Verdict
Well, I have been short beause if you have played Portal you have probably already played Portal 2. But if there are any reason you have hesitated in belief that it's not as good as the first one, you are wrong. Portal 2 surpasses the first one and is definitely recommended.

Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind. - John F Kennedy
An eye for an eye, and soon the whole world is blind. - Mahatma Gandhi
The world is my country. To do good is my religion. My mind is my own church. This simple creed is all we need to enjoy peace on earth. - Thomas Paine
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July 1st, 2011, 16:46
Tex Murphy: Overseer
The 5th game in the Tex Murphy series, containing some of the few good FMV games out there. Overseer fixed many of the interface related issues of Under a killing moon & Pandora directive, and the story was both good and entertaining. It suffers from a few stability issues in XP though, so if anyone else plan to play this game: Save often.

Overall, the puzzles were good, as was the acting, and the game is the second best part of the series (Pandora Directive is still slightly better). One thing that was annoying though was the fact that the game ended with a cliffhanger, but it never received a sequel. I guess FMV games just did not sell well enough during the late 90's.
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July 1st, 2011, 22:18
Jeff Wayne's The war of the worlds:
I finally managed to get this game to run, after not having been able to play it in a long time. It turned out that all I had to do was crack the game (the copy protection does not play nice with XP). Sadly the crack also disabled the CD-music, and this is a game based on a musical (which in turn is based on a book), so disabling the music really hurts the game.
Anyway, this game is like a primitive Total war. It came out in 98 (2 years before Shogun total war), and has a lot in common with it. It has a strategic map (this time of Great Britain minus northern Ireland), where you give build orders, move units and manage resources. Unlike total war it also has a research system, and the strategic mode is tickbased (think Europa Universalis) rather than turnbased. Once you enter combat you will take control of squads of units (again like total war, but instead of a block of 50 soldiers, you now have groups of 6 tanks or 3 tripod walkers). Unlike total war any structures built will also be on the map, and can be destroyed.
Sadly the AI is not good at all. It won't mount a good unified offense, instead it will wear you down, by simply sending unit after unit after unit. Your units pathfinding AI is also horrible, and units will often get stuck in each other, which will a tangled mess (remember, they move in groups). The balance between the two sides (Martians & Humans) is not good, but that is probably intentional. In the book/musical the martian had far superior machines, and that is also true for the game. Humanity has more resources though. The game does of course take a lot of liberties with its source material. This game is set during the last years of the 19th century, yet in this game we have tanks and self propelled artillery. Also, the torpedo ram which HG. Wells had such high thoughts of (the thunderchild was one in the book) is, much like in the musical, not present (the thunderchild in the musical was not a torpedo ram, but most likely a dreadnought, making it a bit anachronistic, the same holds true for the ships in the game).
Anyway, the game was not as fun as I remembered it. Still beats the total war games though
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July 2nd, 2011, 12:53
Trine:
A breath of fresh air. gorgeous graphics and and great use of three different characters. Trine has some really great elements and you will probably enjoy it in your playtime, but sadly, it's very forgettable after you finish it.

DeathSpank: Orphans of Justice
Most unique Diablo clone so far and also the best one for me. ( Previous one was Hellgate: London. ) Great and smooth combat system , hilarious dialogues in style of Monkey Island ( Being a carrier is OK, except for delivering the packages. ) and some very useful game mechanics like an item which instantly turns your equipment to money, auto pick-up, idea of food and potion and their different purpose in healing, blocking mechanism , etc are some of the aspects that make DS great. Although it lacks depth, enough content ,it's not a serious game and some of the side quests are very cheap and waste of time, but overall, it's a very worthy game and looks like one of those games that its creators put their heart into making it.
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July 3rd, 2011, 13:42
Just finished Witcher2. Caution possible general spoilers below




I have to say, I didnt much care for the back and forth "political intrigue" type main story - get on with it already. So overall, I didnt care for the story much. The monsters were so much more prominent in the original, here they just seemed like little contracts here and there to kill several of, or minor speedbumps on the way. I never really felt endangered by the enemies, except for a big flash mob of nekkers in the beginning. I liked the dragon fight and kayran tho, pretty fun. Still cant believe all the complaining over those fights, they were not that bad once you get the moves down. Sile was hot, I've always liked the bitchy sorceress types. Too bad I had to vaporize her, we could have been something. They also really threw together Loc Muinne, what a slapdash last minute hack job that place was. Made Flotsam and surrounding areas look pretty intruiging.

Overall, I liked Witcher 1 better. The first one emotionally moving at times, this one just wasnt. While there was political wrangling in the original Witcher's story, it wasnt the convoluted mess that part 2 was, i think the "vacation chapter" away from the main story in part 1 also helped. The first one was also more of a monster mash and cast of characters. The Beast, the werewolf captain, lady of the lake, lovelorn noonwraith, the vodyanoi, the cannibal, the druids, Wild Hunt, etc… a bunch of weird and/or mythical beings that were all memorable. Here we have the idiot trolls, meh. The succubus was pretty cool and I liked the hospital wraith, but that was a pretty small consolation in the big picture of the lack of memorable characters and creatures (and very few types altogether). Dandelion wasnt even as annoyingly fun as he was in the original. I was hoping to catch a Bruxae (or two), I even bought the book at a vendor in anticipation, but never came across one. WTF?

I just didnt care anymore by the time it was over, it was becoming boring fighting another wave of worthless humans and that awful mess that is Loc Muinne didnt help any. They really mangled fist fighting, dice poker was a losing proposition, arm wrestling was lame, and the meditate to drink potions thing sucked because you have to be fuckin clairevoyant to know when you'll need it, and the timer is ticking during the cutscene to help kill whatever remaining potion buzz you had. No storage made lugging around tons of stuff and inventory management a chore. Speaking of inventory - time and time again sitting around waiting for the description to scroll slowly upward so I could simply read the qualities of an item in inventory or components needed for a recipe or item, just to have it disappear and slowly scroll back up again was just an utterly stupid design decision. Not being able to compare items at merchants to your equipped items was quite convenient as well.

Glad it ended when it did, kicking Letho's ass couldnt have come sooner. I wont be replaying this one like I did the original.
Last edited by xSamhainx; July 3rd, 2011 at 13:54.
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July 6th, 2011, 21:29
Interesting, though I feared for this when starting The Witcher 2. Although a vast number of improvements over the first, I didn't seem to feel attached to any of the characters compared to the first Witcher, nor were they at all memorable to me. I can't say much because I've only reached chapter 2, but from what I've experienced up to this point, I've somewhat felt it a chore to finish things up. I don't seem to recall the assassin looking character's name, who spoke with me during the beginning of the game.

I'm glad I'm not the only one who found characters not-so-memorable as opposed to the first. Monsters didn't seem to have much of a presentation either. I often thought "Just another thing to hack away at.", instead of thinking "Ooh, a wyvern" (though I did have to be much more careful this time around). I'd have to agree with you as far as inventory management is concerned as well. It's nice to see so much praise for the sequel, but The Witcher 2 hasn't struck any high notes for me (yet). I just can't seem to muster up the will to finish it.
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July 11th, 2011, 22:13
A short runthrough of a few games I bought/played recently (not all finished, because they might not actually be worth finishing )
Delve deeper
Delve deeper is a game about gathering money for a greedy dwarf king. You compete with up to 3 other teams of dwarfs, who are also trying to gather as much money as possible. The game is a rather lighthearted turnbased strategy game, where you move your dwarfs through the mines, let them mine gold/gems/mithril, gather chests (which can contain valuable artifacts, which can give you money or improve your dwarf a little, or sometimes contain nasty surprises), kill monsters or try to take gold from the other teams by clobbering their dwarfs. Overall the game was lighthearted and very fun.

Eternity's child
At 1€ I really did not risk much by buying this game. The artistic style looked great when I looked at the screenshots, and the bullet points also boasted about its soundtrack. Plus, I like 2d platformers, so whats not to like?
Not everything turned out to well thought. The soundtrack was indeed good, but the animations were odd and the characters looked a bit out of place, as if you tried to photoshop a bright thing into a dark image, and the animations looked incomplete. Enemies could take far too much damage, but were no real threat, all they did was make sure that you had to stop all the time in order to take care of them. The jumping controls were nearly broken, the main character did not move naturally, everything felt a bit "floaty" and on top of that the collision detection with platforms was poor. The level design felt like it was good in theory, but in practice, it did not work. Overall, the game was not very fun.

The graveyard
This is interactive art, not a game. You walk across a graveyard, sit on a bench, and then some things happens. After that you walk back. It was beautiful though, and so cheap that it might as well have been free.

Guardians of graxia
I'm still playing this one. This is another turnbased strategy game, that works like a boar game (apparently a boardgame of the same name was released at the same time. I suspect that the boardgame works slightly better). You place a hero, then you draw cards representing different creatures and abilities. You spend mana to use these cards, and you get more mana by taking regions on the map. This might sound like magic the gathering, and while there are some slight similarities, this game does its own thing. Two rather major issues with this game are the facts that everything moves very slowly on the map (as in slow animations), and the computers turns takes far too long. If it were not for these issues, this would have been a really nice game. I still find it enjoyable though, well worth the 1½€ I spent on it.

Guns of Icarus
You are the only person on a zeppelin, which gets attacked by pirates. Your job is to shoot them down with your guns (which can be placed on 6 different locations) and to repair your zeppelin when it takes damage. The game is a 3rd person game (apart from when you use your turrets, then you play in a first person mode), and you need to run between each location on foot. The game is all about knowing what to prioritize. A fun little diversion, with a nice steampunk style.

Mount & Blade: With fire & Sword
Another entry in the mount & blade family, this time with guns, and a real world setting. If you have played the earlier entries in the series, you know what it is all about. This one has a slightly stronger narrative side, and I thought that the gunpowder weapons made the game better. Overall, a fun game, but I suspect that most people who are interested in these kinds of games have tried another part of the series, so I won't have to explain what you do in it.

The path
Another artsy game, by the same company that made The graveyard. This game is slightly more complete, form a game point of view. You play as a young girl who is sent to visit her grandmother. Your orders is to stay on the path. If you do, you will reach your grandmother, and the game will end. This game is more about exploration, and the creepy atmosphere though. Unsure if this can really be called a game, or if it counts as interactive art.

Steel storm: Burning retribution
A free roaming top down shooter (well, free roaming might not be exactly what it is, but it plays a bit like some older free roaming top down shooters, but in a maze, unlike most top down shooters which are auto scrolling, like Ikaruga, Touhou or Raiden). For an indie game, this game looks really nice, the sound effects are good and the action is fast paced and rather satisfying. A simple game, but for what it is, it is quite good.

Fatale
Another short Tale of tales game (The path & The graveyard). This is, again, more art than game. It is a short story based on the bible. I don't think it can be properly explained with words, it has to be experienced.
Last edited by Fnord; July 12th, 2011 at 02:09.
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July 17th, 2011, 21:20
Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days
Kane & Lynch: Dead Men was one of the games that I found to be underrated and one of those cult-favorite kinds of games. It was a very flawed game, but there was something in the game that made me to like it. Maybe it was its dark atmosphere and depiction of a gangster's life and how bleak and hopeless it can become. So I was interested in its sequel too.
The main problem with K&L 2 is that it ties to be realistic with its camera system, cut-scenes that look like they are taken from a documentary and lack of musical score during game-play ( except when its played by an in-game source ), but in the other side, many of the events that happen during the game are very illogical and unrealistic. Like the famous level which K&L fight naked ( At least they could take the pants of the enemies they kill in the place they were kidnapped. ) in the streets of Shanghai with hordes of special forces and cops shortly after they were tormented so bad that they were near death or the ending which I don't spoil. Also the game is short and easy even on hard difficulty settings. ( Although the highest difficulty " Extreme " is another story, but I didn't find it worthy of the effort it needed ), but with all of the things said, it does things right that its predecessor did (IMO) . Atmosphere and character development of Kane & Lynch. The level I mentioned, although its illogical and unbelievable, but still, its very effective and depressing and the game kinda made me feel sorry and sad for the main characters. ( and all of the people in the real world who have the same situation. )
I only recommend this game to people who liked the first game and also for people who find the online mode interesting. Other than that, don't bother. Its a like it or hate it kind of a game and the chance to dislike is higher.

Deathspank: Thongs of Virtue
Its a longer version of Deathspank: OoJ that continues the interesting story with new locations, quests and equipment which is a good thing for anyone who liked the idea of the franchise. The two endings of the game were pretty good too and surprisingly thought-provoking for a humor-based game like this. If you finished and liked the first DS, you definitely need to beat ToV too and also wait wait for " The Baconing ", next installment in the series.
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July 19th, 2011, 12:54
Fallout: New Vegas DLC1 Dead Money
The first DLC for Fallout New Vegas brings Survival Horror to the Mojave Wastelands.

Story
Dead Money follow the formula "Boxed-In Sidestory". The Courier recieves a broadcast from the Sierra Madre casino, a huge skyscraper resort built on a mountain far away from New Vegas. Of course, things aren't as they seem and following this call turns into a horrible nightmare that you can't leave until you are done with the story.

Without giving too many spoilers, Dead Money contains some of the darkest moments of the entire game and the creepiest and deadliest place in the entire Fallout-series. In fact, Dead Money feels like a Survival Horror game with plenty of similarities with Silent Hill. The entire experience is distressful and creepy. Sierra Madre is covered in deadly mist, it's streets are filled with zombies, the sound of radios means you are in danger, you have very little inventory to begin with so you have to go by with what you can scavenge. You have no way to leave.

You are going to meet characters you heard about or seen throughout the regular game if you been listening. The companions you meet are all very dark. Even if they might be very rude to you, you must cooperate as your fates are linked in more ways than one.

Gameplay
Like I said, Dead Money is Boxed-In. As soon as you enter the DLC, you will stay there until you are done. When done, you cannot return to Sierra Madre again. You go in without companions and inventory. Everything you do in Dead Money relies on what you do within the DLC's own landscape.

The landscape consists of two major areas. Moving from the first to the second area locks you in and you can't go back. I found the second area somewhat better than the first. The first suffers from the "every wall looks the same" syndrome as well as feeling "empty" thanks to few unique areas and little in terms of unique loot. You also often get lost because of the confusing look-alike streets and the in-game map is almost useless since you can't see what floor passages you see in the map are in (what seems to be a straight path on the map often isn't). I could often run around for 15 minutes at one street to find something. There are also lots of running back and forth in quests, especially in the first area. The streetsigns aren't enough. Greater variation and more landmarks would have improved this quite a bit. There aren't much of unique loot either so trying to explore and scavenge like I did was a complete waste of time.

With it's really nasty environment and very limited equipment, Dead Money plays like a Survival Horror game with outspoken emphasis on Scavenging. I kinda like that idea. Fallout 3 had plenty of opportunities to make scavenging important but quickly gave you too much stuff making it meaningless to bother. Fallout NV improved this with a hardcore mode and lots of customization, but still end up giving you more than you need. However, I might have entered at too high level (37, 20 is recommended) because I had no problems going by with tons of food and water. I do play with 4 endurance though and I almost ran out of stimpacks once but only thanks to going to areas filled with mist (drains HP). I guess I also have to thank the fact that I got the best Energy Weapon I have seen in the game right away, which my character is focused on.

Dead Money has it's own economy, it's casino chips can be found everywhere can be used in the casino or in special vendor machines. You can access one of these when you leave so you can still purchase this stuff after leaving, you can even get more tokens if you like. However you can't go back to find the "unlock codes" for more stuff. You can also not go back playing at the Casino so if you leave as soon as the story is over without breaking the casino you can't do so at a later time.

Once you leave, it's over. Stuff you didn't take with you are lost forever, unlock-codes you didn't found are lost forever, achievements you didn't do is lost forever and if you didn't play at the casino you can't go back to do so.

Final Verdict
Compared to other DLC's I played, I still rate Dead Money above average. It's not great, in fact it can sometimes be rather tedious, especially the first area that could have been fleshed out more. But it's still above average among DLC's, much thanks to it's advanced storyline with tons of unique skill/perkchecks in dialogue, moral depth and multiple endings.

I do not like the fact that you can't go back and explore the DLC areas after finishing the storyline. First the vendor-codes you haven't found are lost to you forever. Second you cannot go back later to play at the casino. There are mods that make it possible to go back but you shouldn't have to. As a boxed-in experience you won't get much out from the DLC once you are done. Except for the tiny starting-area of the mod, there is only one thing that affects the regular Fallout game involving one of your companions, but that's it. You do get a +5 level cap and more perks however.

Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind. - John F Kennedy
An eye for an eye, and soon the whole world is blind. - Mahatma Gandhi
The world is my country. To do good is my religion. My mind is my own church. This simple creed is all we need to enjoy peace on earth. - Thomas Paine
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July 21st, 2011, 12:44
Fallout: New Vegas DLC2 Honest Hearts
The second DLC for Fallout New Vegas allows the player to explore the Valley of Zion among tribals.

Story
Mild spoilers for the first 15 minutes of gameplay may follow.

The Courier accept a call to join the Happy Trails Caravan into The Valley of Zion (Zion National Park). Right from the start the caravan is lost, attacked by tribals and leaving only the courier as survivor. The Courier is met up by Follow-Chalk of the Dead Horse Tribe who lead the way to their camp. Here the Courier meets Joshua Graham, better known as the Burned Man. If you engaged with the Legion in Fallout New Vegas you have already heard of this legend. What follows is a series of quests related to dealing with the tribe who attacked your caravan, the White Legs.

The entire story is within the Valley of Zion and once you are done you CAN go back from Mojave to Zion (unlike Dead Money). Just like Dead Money or the main game, how you fulfill your quests will affect the ending you get once you are done.

Gameplay
When I wrote my review on Dead Money, I spent most of my review speaking about the gameplay since Dead Money had plenty of unique features that created a very different game from the Mojave. For Honest Hearts, this isn't so. In fact, gameplay in Honest Hearts boiled down to it, is little more than what you can expect from a Massive Multiplayer Online RPG. You spend most of the time fetching X of that, or killing Y of this. The entire Zion is actually a quite empty place with little unique loot and few unique discoveries to be made. There are some interesting quests such as a "spiritual journey" on drugs, and finding the whole story about the Survivor, but in terms of pure content, Honest Hearts have alot less filling than Dead Money.

In Dead Money each companion had a specific role in dealing with the challenges you had to face in DLC1. Honest Hearts have a couple of companions as well, but this time they do not really do much improvement on gameplay. In fact, I found two of the companions to be completely meaningless and the third just helps you to find all places on the map (which usually means generic caves and vista-points).

There are a couple of new items, but nothing I found to be important. Mostly you can use plants in Zion to do what regular aid-stuff can do in Mojave such as curing hitpoints and recover limbs (in hardcore).

There are a couple of new weapons, but I believe that Honest Hearts actually do a mistake when it let you keep your inventory (even if you have to reduce your weight to 75 when entering). The modded-out Holorifle from Dead Money do short work with pretty much everything that Zion had to offer and it doesn't decay.

If anything positive can be said about the gameplay it's the feel and atmosphere. Zion is a beautiful place and very relaxing compared to Dead Money. Climbing all the way up to the vistas and having a pair of binoculars in your inventory is nice. Honest Hearts will allow you to get plenty of use of a sniper rifle (or the Holorifle) if you bring them with you. The nightly missions might also be nice, if you brought some cateye with you that is which you are definitely going to need in some quests.

Final Verdict
I am sad to say it, but Honest Hearts is a rather weak DLC. Honest Hearts actually make me like Dead Money even more because when you compare them Dead Money stand out. It offers some brief hours of gameplay but nothing you really remember once you are done. Fans can probably grab it anyway for the +5 levelcap and finding out the story about the Burned Man and some more background info on the 4th DLC. It does offer a change in pace as well for those who wish to relax a bit. But that's it.

Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind. - John F Kennedy
An eye for an eye, and soon the whole world is blind. - Mahatma Gandhi
The world is my country. To do good is my religion. My mind is my own church. This simple creed is all we need to enjoy peace on earth. - Thomas Paine
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July 22nd, 2011, 07:40
There are two, because I played both to complete them earlier.

Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands

Story
Prince just arrived to his hometown, but what he sees is an invasion from an unknown enemy. His brother, Malik, in struggle to save his hometown, is forced to enter King Solomon's Vault to release an ancient curse, which lets loose Solomon's army. Prince warned him not to open it, which his prediction was true. At a parallel dimension, a lady Djinn told him about this curse and the ancient Fire Djinn and the reasons it remained sealed for eternity. This also involves King Solomon's story to this curse. Now Prince must save his brother, Malik, and seal this demon back in this medallion. Literally, it's more Sands' curse.

Gameplay
Before I tell you about it, I have to tell you that I grew since 8-years-old with this particular game and I'd love to meet up with Jordan Mechner, his father.

The Battle system is a combination of the old battle system of Prince of Persia 3D and the first footsteps of the trilogy. This is something I didn't like. What was different was the Icicle Time Magic, which was a magic power, which had the power to freeze the water at will. You can freeze the water, but not the whole game. There were new powers given from Lady Djinn, which you'll find out, if you play this game to the end. The Parkour moves were a bit improved and faster that the trilogy and it was something good, but they were from the first PoP of the trilogy involved, which means that the moves' speed wasn't included to PoP 2 and 3.

In this particular game there's an Arena Mode with Time Attack, Survival Mode and Wave Attack. You guys should try it out.

Graphics
At this game the graphic details were very much improved than PoP 1, but not so improved than PoP 2 and 3. If they gave it more details, it'd be an amazing game. The disadvantage is the frame-down, the so-called Lag, so I suggest you guys upgrade your RAM to 4GB to fix it.

Conclusions
I still miss the PoP trilogy and I'd love to see its prequel. This game is worth your time, BUT… It is NOT related to the PoP trilogy, as the creators said. You can have it as an offset story. If they didn't scrap the parkour ninja moves at this game, it'd be an amazing game. Worth a try…

Risen

You guys know this game and I'll tell you some advantageous and disadvantageous opinions.

Advantageous
The amazing and phantasmagoric environment. It's worth a try to go for a walk outside with your girlfriend.
The good storyline.
The various battle systems.

Disadvantageous
The characters were poorly created, as if they got stuck in 2000.
The bugs, as if Bethesda was behind it. They were very lazy to fix them.
Part of the control panel was shit. Everything was good, but the controls in PC for the magic spells was shit and uncomfortable for the left hand. For that I had to go away from the enemy and prepare my left hand for a complex "hit and run" tactic, which means I had to hit it and go away to a safe place by levitation to save my ass and continue there the "hit and run" strategy to kill this enemy off.

Conclusions
If they ought to fix the bugs and improve the control system, it'd be an enjoyable game for everyone. And as the sites graded it, so do I. 7.0.
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July 22nd, 2011, 23:39
Finished Dead Space 2 yesterday.

It was pretty good, certainly a very competently made game and almost zero bugs that I noticed. However I did feel several deja vu moments which detracted quite strongly from the horror atmosphere (probably exacerbated by the fact that I recently played through the FEAR trilogy).
Spoiler


On the good side, the graphics seemed more polished and certainly there was much more variety in environments on show. The feeling of being on a space station was pretty much nailed I felt, and this was enhanced by much improved gravity-free mechanics than in the first game. And, well, shooting off limbs remained as much fun as it was first time around. Sound was excellent with the ambience of whispers, growls and grunts in the distance. Difficulty-wise, I felt (playing on normal as I had in Dead Space 1) it was about the same; certainly the operation of the rig, the augmentation of equipment, save, shop and bench points was more or less identical to the first game and that familiarity probably made the learning curve much more shallow.

Finally, the PC patch for the game is terribly lazy and I recommend you not install it (if you are playing on Steam, tough tits). The patch (which is a simple executable to replace the original exe file) stuffs the first shop full of free DLC items which make the game easier. As the patch doesn't do a huge amount of other things, I recommend playing unpatched, at least for the first playthrough. As noted above, I found it a pretty bugfree experience anyway.
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July 24th, 2011, 11:03
Fallout: New Vegas DLC3 Old World Blues
The third DLC for Fallout New Vegas is about doing science, and I am still alive.

Story
Let me put it up front, the story in OWB is over the edge silly. Despite my initial "oh no, what the f have they done" I found the humor hillarious. If you can't stand silly stuff though, this isn't for you. But don't skip until you reached gameplay below. The story is also obviously inspired by Portal.

The Courier visits the Mojave Drive-In and finds a strange satellite. Upon investigation, a blue light sweeps down and all goes dark. When waking up, the Courier have lost the spine, the heart and the brain, now replaced with electronics (removal of spine and brain does put forth some interesting philosophical and psychological questions, but I guess we should disable our judgement when playing this one). A group of ex-human cyborg scientists (hovering droids with brains floating in a jar) urge the Courier to go on a trip around the Big Mountain crater to find equipment to take on the evil Dr. Mobius, one of them who fell to the dark side of Science.

From then on, the Courier will freely run around in the new area, Big Mountain. Nice places to go to include a couple of testing labs for upgraded equipment where the Courier will have to do tests like infiltrating an office (like a Chinese communist) and blasting through a highschool (to find who among the students have been seduced by communism). The Courier will also get a new home called "The Sink" that can be upgraded a bunch of times. Each machine in The Sink (about ten of them) have an A.I. personality (they even have an ending). OWB contains some of the best voice acting you have heard. Really. These personalities will likely make you laugh out loud in front of the screen, being memorable in the way Minsc with his space hamster was. For example we have a testosterone-filled murdereous over-the-top evil Toaster who murder and cut "smaller appliances" to pieces. We have a small-droid who is programmed with a strong addiction to clean empty dishes who scream at you to PLEASE, PLEASE GIVE HIM YOUR COFFEE MUGS!

Gameplay
If it hadn't been for the gameplay in OWB, I might have smacked down hard on OWB thanks to the silly story that completely throws out all seriousness and grittiness of the Fallout series out of the window. Let me put it up front (again); in pure gameplay OWB might be the best DLC for the fallout series yet. This is probably one of the most packed DLC's I played for any game. It's also the one that brings in a couple of game-mechanics that I had wanted as early as vanilla Fallout 3.

Let's see. I already mentioned that Old World Blues is free-roaming. You get a load of quests at once and you take them in any order you like. There are loads of places to visit and unlike earlier expansions, each place is unique, often with important loot inside or large bosses or other surprises. No matter where you go, in what direction, you will always run into something new and unique.

There are a plenty (yes plenty) of unique stuff to find, several new (and good) weapons and armors. There is a soundwave gun that can be upgraded with other soundwaves. There is also an advanced stealthsuit which is actually talking, inject you with stimpacks and give you useful information. I optioned to wear this despite the loss of DT. The DLC also makes good use of the crafting system. For example; instead of giving you skillbooks you now find recipes that can make a skill book, if you have the neccessary spare parts.

Upgrading the Sink gives you a home that is really beneficial to you, in a way no previous home have been. There is a sink where you can refill empty bottles with purified water. There is a botanic garden with plants regrowing over time. There is an Auto-Doc who can change your face, your starting traits and upgrade you with implants (that finally made all those caps I collected through Mojave useful). There are several machines that can convert useless items to useful ones to be used in crafting, including books, mugs and notepads. All of theese must be upgraded by finding notes hidden around the mountain.

I found OWB to be definitely harder than earlier DLC's, probably because there are no lasting companions in this one. Monsters respawn all the time and they can be quite tough if you run the game on Very Hard like I do, despite being level 45 with the best energy weapon in the game. I do not remember there being special boss-like monsters in the previous game, here you can go up against giant monsters with like 2000 hp.

I saw the gameoverscreen and got crippled beyond belief more times during this DLC than I can count, and it was initially hard to keep my stuff in good condition. I even had to resort to crafting Doctor's Bags at one point, which I never had to do before. I later realized though that the respawns around the home gives you more than plenty of expensive loot that pays well for repairs (a computer in your home can repair for you).

Final Verdict
If you can lower your bar and accept it's silliness, OWB is the largest and most packed DLC up to date, and I think I am not exaggerating if I include every Fallout and Bioware DLC on that toplist. It also drop some hints for DLC4 that made me really excited about it. I hope OWB increase the bar on how DLC's should be done.

Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind. - John F Kennedy
An eye for an eye, and soon the whole world is blind. - Mahatma Gandhi
The world is my country. To do good is my religion. My mind is my own church. This simple creed is all we need to enjoy peace on earth. - Thomas Paine
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July 27th, 2011, 22:21
FlatOut

I played Flatout 2 a couple of years ago and I was deeply impressed with it. So I was interested to see how this franchise got started.
Flatout, simply put , is one of the best racing game I have ever played. Challenging, addictive, entertaining, engaging and unique. Unlike most of the arcade racers, you have to keep your speed down in FO. Because most of the time, you hit something and the driver gets thrown out of the car and that gives a great opportunity to the competitors to gain the upper hand. That gives a good amount of depth to races and always make you to be careful about how you drive. One of the unique parts about the game is the " Bonus " section where you can play some sports like Bowling , Dart , etc with your car and driver or participate in destruction derbies. ( which is obvious from their name what kind of events they are. ) to gain money for car upgrades.
To make it short, I have to say if you have any interest in arcade racing, you really should play FlatOut. It's already on GOG for 5.99$.

Metro 2033

I said most of the things I had to say about Metro in this post
But now that I have finished the game, I probably have a bit more to say.
I think the game's biggest fault is the fact that there isn't enough combat in it. Most of the time, you see yourself in a long cut-scene ( and in some of them, nothing happens. just a elevator going down or a wagon moving for example ) or walking around with someone else while hearing him explain stuff. Even sometimes when you have the opportunity to fight, you are escorted by a nearly invincible companion or companions who kill most of the enemies without the need for your involvement or when you're alone, you can easily run away. Of course those are not necessarily bad things and I like the fact that developers dedicated lots of the game's time to story and the explanation of the world, but that makes the game-play feel boring and empty sometimes.
Also, the game wasn't as atmospheric or scary as I thought it's going to be. ( Especially compared to S.T.A.L.K.E.R. )
But with all of the things said, Merto 2033 is very entertaining ,sometimes delightful and stands proudly between all of the shooters of its time. Highly recommended.
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July 28th, 2011, 12:53
Rimelands - Hammer of Thor (iPhone)
http://www.rimelands.com/

Ultimately teally dissapointing. This is a turn-base role playing game, set in a sorta post-apocalyptic fantasy world. It actually initially inttrigues with a nice old-school vibe and good production values. The dice-based combat system itself is nice. There is tons of loot and even a crafting system. The engine looks pretty good. The setting is rather unique and interesting. So there was a lot of potential in place here. However the game ends up rather dull.
- Balancing - my assassin character was so overpowered that I don't think I ever died after the first few levels.
- Level design - you mostly trudge through very samey looking vaults
- You never need the crafting system because you find much better loot all the time
- Writing - oh god. It's really bad on all levels. The actual dialogue. The near 100% linear plot. The super cliché Nazi adversaries. The lame attempts at humor…
- Very few types of adversaries - fight the same few opponents, over and over…

Oh well, I hope they use that system and engine and make an actual game out of it next time.
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August 1st, 2011, 07:08
I just finished Drakensang: River of Time with the Phileasson's Secret add-on. This is the English version and it should be noted that I haven't played the original yet (though I did buy it off Steam).

This is very much and old school game with updated graphics. While it uses live action with the ability to pause at any time, it's VERY much turn based. The add-on is a bit different in that it doesn't add to the end of the game. Instead, it adds adventures throughout the game so you'll want to get that added in soon after you start playing, not after you've already completed the game.

Story-wise, the game was so-so. I found it fairly difficult to keep track of who was who (it would have been nice to have the game keep track and let me look up people I knew about) and the main quest is largely forgotten through much of the game. The story in Phileasson's Secret was pushing incomprehensible until Alrik cleared some things up for me. The stories with the side quests were pretty unimpressive, too.

The quests were pretty mundane much of the time. It was refreshing to have several quests that didn't involve simply going into caves and slaughtering everything within but it wasn't so refreshing to run into fetch quests even late in the game. There were some very memorable quests but there was a heck of a lot of filler.

One thing that really got on my bad side was forced party members. I had my gang of four all worked out. Then all of the sudden the game says I have to kick one out so I can bring some other guy along? A guy that hasn't been getting the gear and doesn't fit into the party so well? That's going to be a bother. I can handle games doing this to me mid-way through to make sure I actually try all the characters out but this happened for the final battle of the main game and for P's Secret!

Voice acting was mixed. The main actors were fine but some of the supporting roles were really horrible.

The combat was good stuff. It took a bit of figuring out but it worked well once I did. I played as a mage and found a lot of my spells taking an eon to cast then doing weak damage but the buffs/debuffs worked OK and my summoned skeletons were very handy. The final battles for both the main game and the add-on were downright epic and definite high points.

The art was pretty. VERY pretty. I think playing this game has double the number of sun ray shafts I've seen in my life. Little butterflies and birds fly around in ideal forest settings. Soothing music plays in the background. It's no Cryengine but it sure is gorgeous! (I've got a bunch of 3D screenshots uploaded. Anyone can view them in 2D just by selecting the L or R image. There could be some spoilers on other pages but the link goes to the very first images I uploaded, which should be just fine.)

Overall, I consider this a "pizza buffet" game. It's not particularly great but it isn't bad, either. Plus it's cheap and there's a whole lot of it. If you've got a craving for old school games that let you see the die rolls, this will do nicely. I'm less impressed with the add-on. The final couple of hours were excellent but the rest of it just didn't seem worth it.
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August 1st, 2011, 13:05
Wow, this 3D screenshots is an interesting thing ! How do you do that ?

I played as a mage and found a lot of my spells taking an eon to cast then doing weak damage
I'm sorry, but that's so in the rules set. Except for MODs, you cannot change it.
They become better the more points you put into them, though.

“ Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.“ (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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August 2nd, 2011, 03:46
Yeah, that's pretty much what I found. A certain item making my ball lightnings do more damage helped a lot, too. And that summoned skeleton really did work well from start to finish.

3D Vision did the 3D. It works quite well with this game. NVIDIA's drivers are translating the 3D world into a 2D picture anyway so they are in a perfect position to render one view per eye. Well… almost perfect. Some things are rendered after the drivers have worked their magic, like shadows, which is why you don't see any in my screenshots. The mist makes for craziness, too, and the sky sometimes looks odd. No biggy there, though, one quick hotkey and I'm back to normal "flatland 3D".
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