Thursday, 25 July 2013

Review: Wargame: AirLand Battle (PC)

I'll be first in line to toss praise toward developer Eugen Systems for the technical prowess they've coded into Wargame: AirLand Battle. It's the only real-time strategy game that has really nailed the ability to zoom up to the clouds for a view that feels a lot like looking at a map on a table then fly to ground level to follow infantry units running through open fields.

It's all so technically brilliant and complex that I'd compare it to sitting in a cockpit of an F-14 with absolutely no knowledge of how the plane works or, hey, what does this button do? Or possibly more apt, suddenly finding yourself in the cockpit of an F-14 at 50,000 feet. What information you can glean from the cockpit is your sole source of not ploughing into the ground at Mach 2. This one's labelled "eject"; this one "chaff." Okay, no idea what the rest of this stuff does.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Gear: Bloody Ultra Gaming Gear - V7MA Ultra Core3 Gaming Mouse

A4Tech's Bloody Ultra Gaming Gear - V7MA Ultra Core3 Gaming Mouse -- even if it says "Bloody Headshot" on the unit itself -- is a mouthful to the point where I actually needed to consult the company rep to get the name right.

But what's in a name?

Friday, 12 July 2013

Review: Resident Evil: Revelations (360)

If there's one thing that the Resident Evil series brings to the table every single time, it's this: Crazy.

Storywise the game is positioned between Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 5 -- and bounces around quite a bit in flashbacks -- but control wise it's a giant leap back to a more plodding experience, especially compared to the most recent actiony bang-run-dodge then stab-stab-duck of Resident Evil 6.

Resident Evil: Revelations is also the first game I can think of that has gone from a handheld experience -- released on the 3DS at the start of 2012 -- and was re-drawn and brought forward to a console. In my brain, these games are supposed to go the other way: large console or PC experiences that are pared down and modified to cram into a handheld. They did it with Max Payne, didn't they? But this kind of boggles my mind.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Review: The Last of Us (PS3)

Few games have been as anticipated as The Last Of Us.  Officially announced December 10, 2011 on the Spike TV Video Game Awards, it's been a long wait for players and an even longer development cycle as a second team at Naughty Dog started working on this game in 2009 just after Uncharted 2 shipped.

The Last of Us tells the tale of Joel and Ellie as they journey through a bleak world that has been infected by some apparently unstoppable contagion (transmitted by bite). Their ultimate goal may be to find a cure, but it won't be without a high cost to both of them.

There are various stages and terrifying forms of infection: a "runner" to a blind "clicker", and eventually a bullet-absorbing "bloater." There are also human enemies in the game. The military is out to "protect" everyone, which in this case, won't work (I don't want to spoil the story completely for you). There are also marauders in various places that will try and take you down as well. Although overall there isn't a great deal of variety in the enemies, they do all react differently and require different tactics to defeat.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Review: Remember Me (360)


There are memories we'd all like to forget. For me, a big one I'd love erased from my head was Mitch Williams of the Philadelphia Phillies delivering a big, fat gopher ball, a World Series-losing gopher ball, to Joe bleeping Carter of the Toronto Blue Jays in 1993. Yeah, that's one I could do without.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Review: The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing (PC)

Say the name “Van Helsing” and you think of a scholarly looking monster hunter out to slay vampires with his intellect, his faith, and a great big gnarly stake.  Alternatively, you may think of B-movies with Hugh Jackman.  Nonetheless, the name is almost archetypal by this point.  Say it and you know you're dealing with a character with a burning desire to put down the things that go bump in the night and a nearly reckless disregard for their own safety, all dressed up in the finest of Victorian fashions.  Neocore Games decided to move away from the classic Van Helsing of Bram Stoker and go with a more steampunkish version that borrows elements of the 2004 movie and casts the player as the elder Van Helsing's son on a trip to the fictional country of Borgova for plenty of monster slaying and fiendish plot thwarting.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Review: Grid 2 (360)

The competition for the driving fan's gaming dollar continues to be a fierce battle. With the Forzas and Grand Turisimos of the world there are a few games that are doing their best to cater to a wider audience. In that vein, Grid 2 tries to take the middle ground between enthusiast and the more casual racing fan.

The story revolves around you helping Patrick Callahan, a multimillionaire gearhead who wants to create "World Series Racing" which will feature all of the best racers from each part of the world. In order to help grow the business, you are going to be his main feature competing in all the different racing genres and become a huge draw for the league. In effect, the currency of your success is the fans that you draw to the business. Success draws fans, which in turn will lead to better equipment, which then leads to higher profile competition (and the vicious cycle of success breeding success). As such, the game features multiple locales for you to battle in and the usual insane variety of cars to race.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Hands-on Preview: Saints Row IV (PC)

 There seems to be no limit to what developer Volition won't explore and there's no piece of the "familiar" that isn't somehow warped and given a distinctive "Saints" bent. This is the hallmark of Saints Row and the series has made the most of it by carving out its own open world niche.

At the same time, the first couple of hours was enough to make me wonder how Volition will keep up the pace and deliver action insanity at that same level for an entire game. At least during the story sections, Saints Row IV doesn't waste any opportunity to poke fun at itself, other games, and a myriad of other topics. The dialogue is as sharp (and self-aware) as ever and in the span of couple of hours it took to play through the preview version I laughed more than few times.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Review: Knights of Pen and Paper +1 Edition (PC)

fighting some monsters

Sometimes tablet games translate well to the PC, other times not so much. Even if the game was fun and well received on the former, the way games are consumed on each of these platforms can be quite different so that what may be enjoyable on a tablet may not be so elsewhere. This is exactly what we have with the PC version of Knights of Pen and Paper. I can totally see how people would enjoy this game on a tablet, bonking some monsters on the head while on the train for 20 minutes. Even the above average level of control that players have over battles can seem intriguing in short bursts. However, most people who play RPGs on their home computers, myself included, tend to do so for fairly prolonged sessions. What was once a nice time waster here and there becomes a tedious slog. Even the once charming retro aesthetic begins to wear its welcome after half an hour or so.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Review: Leisure Suit Larry Reloaded (PC)

larry at the bar

Al Lowe and Josh Mandel are directly responsible for helping shape my formative years in gaming, and any time I get an "official" excuse to play one of their games is time well wasted.

For those unfamiliar, Al and Josh were designers for Sierra On-Line. While Josh worked on pretty much every major property at Sierra behind the scenes, Al was the creator of the Leisure Suit Larry franchise and Freddy Pharkus Frontier Pharmacist (my personal favorite game from Sierra). As Al's creative genius was absent from the last 2 Larry games that came out (some would say fell dead from the sky), it is refreshing to see him involved with the restoration of his first major work.