Game Review



Wildstar [Review]

Game Review, Reviews, Showcase

June 3, 2014

cover.wildstar.761x1080.2014-03-12.403Not much impresses me in an MMO these days. I’ve been around the block a few times. So why am I writing about Wildstar, from newly formed Carbine Studios? I’m doing it because it has done the unthinkable, it’s surprised me.

Wildstar doesn’t set out to reinvent the wheel; nor should it. Other games have tried and have not been successful. (I’m looking at you, ESO) Just like WoW did with Everquest, it takes what works well and simply polishes it for us. It uses the old “exclamation marks for quests” and a similar kind of quest hub system, but refines it to allow to you to turn in less important quests remotely. You can also easily find out where you need to be without using the map, not even the mini-map: just click on the quest name and a floating arrow will point you in the direction you need to go. (more…)

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Watch_Dogs [Review]

Game Review, Reviews, Showcase

June 3, 2014

originalRemember when there was the rumor going around about Assassin’s Creed heading to the modern (or future) era? The concept of Assassin’s Creed in the 21st or 22nd century, being all bad-ass and high-tech? Well, what if you took that concept and merged it with GTA… does that sound like something you might be into? If so, Watch_Dogs is EXACTLY what you’re looking for.

For some, that endorsement is probably enough to run out and purchase the game if they haven’t done so already.

Quite honestly, I would have fallen into that category myself. When I started following along with the production of Watch_Dogs, I had no idea where it was going. I figured some third-person action title with the ability to manipulate the world around the character, but I didn’t really grasp the scope that Ubisoft was going for. (more…)

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Wolfenstein: The New Order [Review]

Game Review, Reviews, Showcase

May 26, 2014

So, last week saw the return of the Third Reich and the Wolfenstein license for the first time since 2009, and ever since I’ve been playing and replaying the game to try and work out exactly how I feel about the return of the franchise, and moreover the first major release from Machine Games.
On the one hand, it’s awesome to see a new studio given a shot on a popular (or once popular) license like Wolfenstein. They had an opportunity to test themselves, carve out a name for their little studio, and break new ground with a familiar face masked over top.

On the other hand, we’re dealing with a franchise with what I would regard as a somewhat checkered past. For some of us, it was bigger than Doom back in the day (I’m referring to myself personally; I definitely spent more time with the original Wolfenstein then I did Doom). But in more recent adaptations it’s gone the route of discount bin knock-off titles. It’s a once glorious franchise that’s relegated itself to sub-par shooters that most will ignore and the rest will quickly forget.

In a similar conflict, I wanted to give these guys the benefit of the doubt. For a first outing, and a new-ish studio, this game should be considered a great success. It doesn’t have any major bugs, it plays solidly, the story is interesting enough, and the game’s pacing and level design are interesting enough to consider this a fully fleshed out game.

But instead of taking a new approach to gaming, developing something entirely new (or at least tweaking the formula of the title to make it their own), at the end of the day it feels a lot more like a mod for Dishonored.

wolftnofinalboxflatpcboxWolfenstein’s gameplay offers a customizable character that you can ‘upgrade’ throughout the game by playing in one of their four core game styles: Stealth, Assault, Demolitions, or Tactical. Each provides a ‘unique’ take on FPS action by letting you make your way through 1960s German-run Europe via sneaking and stabbing, running and gunning, or just lobbing a f*ckton of grenades.

Personally I will always head down the stealth route given the option, thanks to my Metal Gear upbringing, which is why I referenced earlier that this feels a lot like Dishonored.

Sure, there’s no magic abilities that allow you to teleport around, or possess animals … but the way the character moves, the need to be constantly crouching to be in ‘stealth mode’, the way the idle animations deal with holding a blade (or two), all feel exactly like Dishonored. It was a feeling I was never able to shake, try as I might, over several play sessions last week and again this weekend.

To be clear, plenty of people enjoyed Dishonored. It was a well-received game, and it’s not that I’m trying to imply that developers shouldn’t be taking notes on its design to create their own titles … to some level. It’s just that when a new studio comes crashing out of the gate, storied license in hand, you expect something either entirely unique, or utter trash (like the movie tie-in games for example).

A middling example of a game that already exists, and already published by the same label (Bethesda), feels like a massive let down.

Overall, I enjoyed Wolfenstein … but in the same way that I enjoy watching Sylvester Stallone movies these days. There’s a morbid curiosity wrapped in a desire to just muddle through something you don’t need to think too much about.

I will say this for the game’s Dishonored-esque gameplay style though: it feels like it offers a little more variety in how things are approached. In Dishonored it was extremely easy to break the game; leveling up the right stats made you a God by the second level. In Wolfenstein you’ll become better equipped to handle the madness of the Nazi global threat, but you’re still always relying on your own skill at the end of the day.

If you’re looking for a game with an interesting enough B-movie plot line about an alternate history where the Nazis win and carry their victory (via ancient technologies, mechs, and robot dogs), that offers variance in game play ranging from dual-wielding assault rifles, hosing down hallways of ‘ze Germans’, to speedy stealth that will having you tossing out knives from the shadows à la Bullseye, then this is definitely a title worth checking out… I’d probably just wait until it drops another $20.

This review is based on a retail download code provided by the publisher, Bethesda, for the Xbox One.


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The Amazing Spider-Man 2 [Game Review]

Game Review, Reviews, Showcase

May 5, 2014

TASM2BoxArtHQ_miniAdmittedly I haven’t been the biggest fan of the series reboot. Spider-Man was my first real comic book love, and it’s been a hard thing to see the film franchises leave out so much of the personality of Peter Parker that I fell in love with all those years ago (and continue to over and over again to this day).

The one bright shining star for us Spider-fans has, on occasion, been the video games that were turned out. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is easily one of the best superhero games ever made, and I’m sure that you’d see Ultimate Spider-Man appear somewhere on that list as well (if you’re doing it right).

However, like most other film properties with a video game tie-in, there’s always plenty of room for things to go wrong, and most often (when rushing a game to time with the release of a movie) they do.

So it’s no surprise that, while there are some brief flashes of genius in the new Spider-Man game (for virtually every gaming platform currently in existence), The Amazing Spider-Man 2: The Game winds up feeling pretty middling. (more…)

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Ogre Plays Games: South Park – The Stick of Truth

Game Review, Reviews, Showcase

March 18, 2014

2436997-imageAs a huge South Park fan, I’ve been looking forward to this game for a few years now. Since its announcement at E3 2012, I have been waiting by my PC to play it. It was set to be published by THQ, so when they went bankrupt I feared the worst. But it rose from the dead like the mighty phoenix and now I get to try it out. I’ll try and keep it mostly spoiler free.

The game centers on you being the new kid in South Park. Your starting goal is to make friends on Facebook, and there are over 100 people in South Park you can add as a friend. As you start meeting some of the characters like Butters and Cartman, you get wrapped up in their make believe game of endless war between Humans and Elves over the fabled Stick of Truth. Cartman is the Grand Wizard of the Kingdom of Kupa Keep. (KKK… yeah I know) and Kyle leads the elves. You can pick between four classes, Fighter, Mage, Thief, and Jew. As always in South Park fashion, it gets ridiculously out of hand, involving aliens, the government, Goth Kids, Underwear Gnomes, and even…The Girls.

The game plays like a JRPG (“Japanese Role Playing Game” for those who don’t know) in the fact that the combat is turn based. The game makes a wonderful excuse for that so it doesn’t seem out of place. It’s very reminiscent of Super Mario RPG in this playing style. There are also a ton of weapons armor and add-ons for them as well that give you a lot of choices in customization. Speaking of customization, there are hundreds of costume pieces you can find or buy in the game to make yourself look like pretty much anything you would want. (more…)

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