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Old 07-06-2011, 10:25 PM   #1541
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Alpha Polaris

Another title that had captured my attention thanks to the somewhat obscure setting to see in an adventure game. It has instantly reminded me on a certain movie that I like, and when I've read the story synopsis, this only kindled my curiosity.

Alpha Polaris is a solid adventure, despite some flaws. Actually, it's remarkably good all things considered. If I'm not mistaken, this is a first game developed by the team (Turmoil Games). All in all, it's a pretty mature product.

Altough the story and the setting is obviously inspired by the mentioned movie (I'm guessing that most people know which one), it's fitted nicely in the game. The story is somewhat slow at times, but there is constant level of tension present. There are several scary and disturbing moments. Those are certainly more in a "clever scares" camp rather than in "cheap scares" one, though not as scary (IMO) as "Scratches", for instance.

The story and characters is also rather good. Some of the characters are a bit shallow and cliched, and the story itself is maybe a bit too short. Still, the developers IMO choose a good backdrop for their story in terms of the mythology.

Technically, the game is suprisingly polished. The visuals are a bit bland sometimes, but the design is well concieved and the team captured the real essence of the setting. Speaking of visuals, I've particulary liked the cartoon-style close-ups that occur when the two characters are conversing. They are eye-candy and a nice touch to the game.

Voice-acting is also something that stands out in the game. All of the characters sound very convincing and in sync with their appereance and profile. The music is also very good - minimalistic and with nice "chilly" ambient feel to it.

The gameplay and the puzzles are very straightforward, and something that a seasoned adventurer shouldn't have much problem with. But some of the puzzles are a bit clumsy and don't seem logical at first, so I was stuck at times. But in general, they are rather simple, like in many adventure titles that are focused on the story, characters and atmosphere.

The shortness of the game may be its biggest flaw, but I think that the team used the somewhat limited space the game is taking place at to the maximum. Maybe a bit longer gameplay could brought a bit deeper scenario and more in-depth character profiles, but maybe it's actually better this way.

Verdict: 4 / 5
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Old 07-07-2011, 02:11 PM   #1542
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Also finished Alpha Polaris :

Cons
- Too short
- repetitive puzzles (three times symbol deciphering..yawn)
- Unoriginal story (same old evil god blabla)
- Not scary at all, they could've atleast made a chase scene/event with puzzles..something to pump up the adrenalin.
- Same location with no variations whatsoever
- Curse words were not necessary and made some conversations akward
- Disappointing "bad guy"

Pro
- Polar bears, the arctic, it can feel like you're right there.
- Voice acting was great, especially Rune (sounded norwegian..i guess)
- Interesting backhistory about the Esquimaux
- The "suggest" system feels hardcore, it's def a step up from the usual point click. I liked it.

Conclusion: another disappointment! AG games are just getting worse and worse each year, why do they even bother? Sigh. I give it a 2,5/5.

Time to take a break from adventure games, a new beginning can wait.

Last edited by SamuelGordon; 07-07-2011 at 02:21 PM.
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Old 07-07-2011, 06:22 PM   #1543
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Gabriel Knight 2. Fantastic game, loved it, story, plot, characters, puzzles everything was great..well the ending wasn't great but that aside..
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Old 07-18-2011, 11:31 AM   #1544
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just finished Sam&Max season 1 and i can say with confidence, i enjoyed this waaay more than "hit the road". The puzzles were challenging enough to never be boring, but also not frustrating or illogical. The episodes are also blended together quite well; the season really does feel like one complete game. I really cant think of much to complain about. The only thing I can come up with, is maybe it would flow a little better if it wasnt episodic. But then the changes the characters go through from episode to episode (like bosco) are a big part of the charm. The 6 episodes together are a nice solid length for an adventure game. And it was entertaining the whole way through. That is why I rate sam and max save the world 10/10. Its definitely a classic and it took "hit the road" to a whole different level. Cant wait to play the other seasons.
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Old 07-18-2011, 07:50 PM   #1545
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zane View Post
just finished Sam&Max season 1 and i can say with confidence, i enjoyed this waaay more than "hit the road". The puzzles were challenging enough to never be boring, but also not frustrating or illogical. The episodes are also blended together quite well; the season really does feel like one complete game. I really cant think of much to complain about. The only thing I can come up with, is maybe it would flow a little better if it wasnt episodic. But then the changes the characters go through from episode to episode (like bosco) are a big part of the charm. The 6 episodes together are a nice solid length for an adventure game. And it was entertaining the whole way through. That is why I rate sam and max save the world 10/10. Its definitely a classic and it took "hit the road" to a whole different level. Cant wait to play the other seasons.
I love the new seasons. I loved Season One: Episode 5 Reality 2.0 so much. It was great, the music and C.O.P.S. so awesome Just wait until you get to Season 3, the production values go way up (although they made the controls way more annoying. I played it with my friend and we'd always argue about who had to be the ones controlling the characters because it was a chore holding down the mouse button to walk.)
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Old 07-19-2011, 02:54 AM   #1546
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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.
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Old 07-21-2011, 02:44 AM   #1547
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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.
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Old 07-23-2011, 05:37 AM   #1548
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A New Beginning

Besides "Portal 2", this was probably the most anticipated adventure for me this year (if we count out "Last Crown" which I've thought it will be released during this year, but this clearly isn't going to happen). But "A New Beginning" was certainly well worth the wait.

Despite the fact that I've played many great titles in last few years, I've rarely came across the game which reminds me so much on my ever time favourites - "Broken Swords" (the first two games). This game has many "magic ingredients" that made BS famous - from graphic style, intriguing story, interesting characters, cinematic soundtrack, exotic locales, clever puzzles, minus the inimitable wit of George Stobbart, of course.

Ever since I've seen the first screenshots of "The Whispered World" I was drooling to play a game in the same graphic style. But the fantasy worlds and characters never quite did it for me, so I didn't played the said game so far. "A New Beginning" is just what the doctor ordered.

Besides the great looks and sound, the main star of this game is the story itself. The topic is relevant and universal and in this game it's used to the full potential. The story development may not be very fast pacing, but it has a more than enough momentum. This is also owing to the puzzles which are typical for this kind of an adventure game (dialog and inventory based with a few clever but not too frustrating logic puzzles).

Characters, even the main ones, may not be an instant likeable and charming as, say George and Nico, but they are certainly memorable and convincing. The voice acting is mostly very good, but there are few quirks in that respect here and there. But the character profiles, especially of the main characters is rather deep with enough drama and history for those who can't be without it.

Soundtrack is typical for this genre: grand-sounding but maybe a bit too bombastic. Definitively it doesn't provide an instantly recognizable atmosphere and memories as the music in "Broken Sword" games, but it works well.

Another nice feature of the game is rather long gameplay, although this may be a bit too subjective remark in my case. When playing the game that intrigues me, I usually try to "stretch" it as much as I can, despite the ocasional feeling of "can't wait to see what happens next". So, I'm definitely not an expert on estimating the exact hours of gameplay. But "A New Beginning" seems like one of the longer adventure games I've played so far.

In the end, I can certainly recommend this title to the most of the fellow adventurers, especially to the fans of "Broken Sword", "Runaway", "Secret Files" and "Black Mirror" game series. I'm sure you'll feel quite at home with "A New Beginning".

Verdict: 4,6 / 5
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Last edited by terhardp; 07-23-2011 at 05:48 AM.
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Old 07-24-2011, 01:03 AM   #1549
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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.
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Old 07-25-2011, 07:46 AM   #1550
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Just finished an oldish RTS game Stronghold Crusader...the final mission 80 "The Big One" took me about 10 hours...very challenging. Great game though, graphically dated of course but still with charm.
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Old 07-26-2011, 07:01 AM   #1551
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Dungeon Siege 3 (as Reinhart)

As far as gameplay goes, this is a mixed bag of absolute gems and confusing dung balls.

The game is rock solid stable on PC (apart from some people having weird sound glitches with cirrus logic on-board sound cards). I have a cirrus logic on-board sound card and fearing any troubles I left the game running... for 3 days straight.

72 hours and the game still runs as quick as it did on first load. When I wasn't playing I'd just leave it running in the background (alt-tab). My fans would switch off and I'd turn off the monitor.

Obsidian wrote this engine.

The game is pretty, characters are well modeled, environments are mostly pleasing to the eye and there's enough variety. The characters have varied powers and there's a lot of strategy that isn't nearly apparent enough at the start.

Early on you could mistake the game for a mindless slasher, but eventually you run into mobs that actually require blocking, dodging, clever power use and good old fashioned running away.

Stonebridge (the city) is awesome. It looks great, and its got the interesting bits of the whole story. All of the humor too, sadly. Stonebridge got all the love.

The control scheme is really hit and miss on the PC. Moving about is great and swinging a melee weapon isn't too shabby either... the trouble comes when you need to use ranged or placed abilities (area effect) or just switch targets.

I would hazard a guess that I misplaced my area effect abilities 70% of the time. Being sure where they'll land is wildly unpredictable. Switching targets also sucks, if a bad guy gets too close you'd think putting your mouse over the new guy would switch target... no.

Instead you're locked onto an existing target until it dies...or you walk a couple of steps to break target lock. Walking towards the cursor is flawless but refocusing your attack is so cumbersome!

While the early areas are fine-to-pretty, towards the end is the Glitterdelve mines. They're a monotonous chore, the very definition of boring padding. I don't understand why they would try to set a new record in backtracking drudgery in such a dull-ugly environment, but they do.

The equipment drops are a complete mystery to me. End game gear prioritises Stamina and Armor at the expense of Agility and Will... Agility and Will are like gold to every character because they equate to critical hit chance and power-of-special-abilities... Its like the game is saying "here, put on this gear and live longer... but take a bloody long time to kill anything". Even the rare gear does this.

Overall, the game is worth playing, and I will play it again. I've already tried all the characters but I've only finished with Reinhart. I'll probably finish it once or twice more and am looking forward to what Obsidian can do with DLC/Expansions.

Its unashamedly a Diablo clone with fun (flawed) gameplay and an interesting enough story that suffers through an occasional dull zone. This isn't the stiff shirt Dungeon Siege successor some where looking for, its hands on from start to finish and not the sim-heroes gameplay of its predecessors.
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Old 07-28-2011, 08:47 AM   #1552
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F.E.A.R. 3

Positives:

+ Though nothing special by today's standards, the graphics are very good and appropriately detailed; the cinematics look equally great and smooth, too. Even the frame rates hold up very nicely throughout - very smooth for a recent FPS.
+ Audio effects sound great as does the music. The end credits song is very fitting - Mother by Danzig
+ Online co-op is especially good fun during the story campaign. You'll have one person playing as Point Man (the FPS guy), whilst the other plays as Paxton Fettel (a spirit, and Point Man's undead brother). As Fettel, you can suspend enemies for Point Man to shoot or take possession of them to become another 'gun'. However, possession only lasts for a certain period of time, so you must collect souls from slain enemies. There are certain areas that Fettel will be able to access that Point Man can't, but these occasions are incredibly rare and underused.
Cooperative multiplayer is just as equally good, especially Contractions which is like Gears of War's Horde mode. There's even the option to play cooperatively offline via split-screen
+ There are plenty of additional challenges to complete throughout each level (solo or cooperatively), which gives the game some re-playability if you're after leveling up or 'achievement hunting'. Collectibles will usually spawn in different places each time you play, which encourages you to explore
+ Gunplay/gameplay/cover based shooting is generally good and satisfying with slow-mo making another come back. Again, there are the occasional mech fights that help mix things up a bit
+ Some nice creepy environments

Negatives:

- The story is 'meh' - it's uninteresting and not very cohesive
- At only 8 'Intervals', the campaign feels very short and linear. The last interval is incredibly short and the boss fight is a complete joke - it's way too easy! It's baffling really, considering some early segments are quite tricky (especially on the harder difficulties). Even in co-op!!
- You can only carry two weapons at a time! What is it about FPS nowadays only allowing you to carry two weapons!? Not only that, but the weapons feel ridiculously underpowered! Close quarters combat, especially with a shotgun to the face, won't kill enemies! Even when fighting against unarmored cultists it takes about 2-3 shots! BUT! If you take possession of a cultist as Fettel and throw a knife at them it will usually kill them with one hit. Hell, even using the 'zoom-in' and shooting soldiers in the head with say, a rifle, won't always kill them!
- I don't know if it's just me being thick, but I couldn't even find/see the option to play the 'Fu**ing Run!' or 'Soul Survivor' multiplayer modes. It was like they weren't even available to play in my copy.
- The game isn't particularly scary. This is the least frightening F.E.A.R. game in the series!

Overall:

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Old 07-28-2011, 06:01 PM   #1553
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Just finished back to the future: the game. It sure is full of "movie magic" wonder. Definitely a great homage to the series and an overall fun romp. The voice-acting was pretty much perfect and the music was very well placed. Unfortunately, the puzzles were quite far from perfect. They were frequently way too easy and simple. Particularly in the later episodes i often felt like theyd put you in a room with the solution 3 inches away from your nose, and all you had to do was click on it. To make matters worse, the game suffers from poor path mapping and camera angles. Theres a variety of invisible walls placed in random places, making movement feel disjointed and awkward. The story is still enjoyable though, and not all of the puzzles were bad. I would call it a fun game with a good deal of room for improvement. I'd rate the season overall 7.5/10
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Old 08-06-2011, 11:59 AM   #1554
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Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Scariest game ever?

Story
"Don't Forget... some things mustn't be forgotten. The shadow hunting me... I must hurry. My name is Daniel, I live in London at... at... Mayfair... What have I done? This is crazy. Don't forget, don't forget. I must stop him. Focus! My name is... is... I am Daniel."

With those words, and brief glimpses of a dark environment, you collapse on the floor. When you wake up and focus, you grasp that you are inside a dark castle, no clue where or when. All you got are those rose petals scattered on the floor, that seems to create a path for you to follow.

A few spooks and some major drops of insanity later you find yourself with the task of stopping him while escaping the shadow hunting you...

Engine: Graphics & Sound
Amnesia is a first-person physics-based adventuregame. As a such it have a very modern 3d engine that is very pleasent to look at, although one could have wished for more when it came to what is meant to look like human beings that looks like something from 1999. Pushed to max, it made my OC i7 [email protected] and SLI480GTX to crawl. However, this is only when you set SSAO Samples to 128 which is completely meaningless. You can't see the difference between 32 and 128 and 32 ran just fine.

The audio is awesome. It will most definitely assist in creeping you out. Not only that but the voiceacting is extraordinary. Even if there are very few voices in the game, especially the main characters voices will stick in your head and you will probably remember them after finished the game.

Gameplay
Amnesia is a first-person physics-based adventuregame. It's puzzles often rely on you to pick up items and use them in the environment. That said, the actual puzzles aren't that many throughout the game. The main challenge really is to navigate the often pitch-black corridors with your nerves intact.

Have you ever played games like Undying, in which you begin really scared, only to find your first weapon and then it's a breeze? Amnesia is not that game. Amnesia is a first-person Survival Horror-game in which there simply are no weapons and no way to kill the awful monsters scattered around the castle. Even looking at the enemies makes your sanity drop and when your sanity drops too much you collapse to the floor. Then you have to struggle to get up again, which often means game over if a monster see you. All you can do when a monster is onto you, is to run and try to hide in the shadows. Did I tell you that darkness drops your sanity as well?

I do not wish to boast, but I tend to have nerves of steel. I rarely get scared by a computergame and I have played most of them. I have long considered Condemned the only game that could get to me. Then came Penumbra, the first trilogy made by the developer who now made Amnesia and yeah, those three were quite creepy. But not even them compare to Amnesia, which is a really evil game. Once you are done with the main story, have a look at youtube and check out some of the "amnesia reaction" videos. They are often hillarious.

Final Verdict
Amnesia isn't so much of a game as it is an experience meant to make you terrified. As a such, this is THE best horror-game ever. If you are a horror fan, nothing should stop you from checking this game out. If you aren't, well, I hope you have some nerves left if you dare to try.
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Old 08-06-2011, 12:12 PM   #1555
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Amnesia: Justine (DLC)
A DLC which is automatically added to the game from patch v1.2 and higher.

Story
You wake up in a cell with a phonograph next to you, by a monster banging on the door. Next to you is a phonograph with a womans voice telling you that you are now part of a test. Who you are and who this "Justine" is, seems to be the mystery you need to solve, if you survive that is.

Justine is very loosely tied to the story of Dark Descent and is mostly a short sidestory.

Gameplay
Justine plays just like the first game, although you can't save, so you need to solve the whole thing in one sitting which can be quite annoying (takes about 30min). There are also some annoying tasks you need to solve like stacking crates to get up high.

Final Verdict
If you are an amnesia fan you can check it out. You already got the DLC afterall.
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Old 08-22-2011, 03:15 AM   #1556
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Ultima VII: Part Two - Serpent Isle

One of the best RPGs I played for sure. Dialogues are quite rich and enjoy to read them, gameplay is about 20+ hours and the audiovisual qualities for its age are amazing too. I recommend it for everyone who is looking for top rpg. Of course with free software reimplementation of Ultima VII engine called Exult.

9/10
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Old 08-30-2011, 02:22 AM   #1557
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Arcania: Gothic 4
Were a higher budget enough for Spellbound to redeem Gothic from its previous title Forsaken Gods?

A quick history lesson
Gothic 1-3 was developed by Piranha Software and managed to get some success with their unusual non-linear and free-roaming titles in which you could go in any direction as you please, with few physical barriers. When it was released Gothic 3 was a very ambitious title, but released too soon an extremely buggy. The fanpatched version is still one of the better RPG’s out there though. In the aftermath Piranha Bytes and the publisher JoWood parted ways. Piranha Bytes went on to make Risen that share many similarities with their Gothic trilogy. JoWood kept the Gothic franchise and got Spellbound Software to make the next title; a standalone expansion called Gothic 3: Forsaken Gods. If you visit Gamerankings and search for worst RPG on PC with at least 1 review, Forsaken Gods is about 12 from the bottom. For my comments on that game, search this thread. Unlike Forsaken Gods, Arcania is a serious title, with much higher budget, built from scratch up by Spellbound.

Story
Spoilers of earlier titles will follow.

The protagonist from the first titles are now a king gone mad, conquering the nations around Myrtana. The new hero in Gothic 4 is a young man from a small village on an island. He is just about to get married when his village is attacked and everyone but him killed. With help by his friend Diego he begins his quest for revenge. Eventually he learns that the attack was not random but done for very specific reasons; he was supposed to die as well.

The story of Arcania builds slowly through cut scenes and dialogue. You spend about 2/3 of the map without really knowing what’s going on, moving from place to place in a linear fashion. Many of the known NPC's from earlier titles reappear to assist you and there are also a couple of reoccurring characters. That said, for some reason I found that Arcania couldn’t absorb me.

Stories in fantasygames are often cliché, but a good story isn’t about how it’s written but how it’s told. In Arcania, there’ just not much happening throughout most of the game. First half you move slowly through wolfs and goblins and meet NPC’s who are often either satirically rude, overdemanding or mad. Even the sensible people you meet were often presented in a such fashion I couldn’t connect. I felt no emotional attachment to anyone, just ticked off. Then there’s a trek through a section which is just a lot of combat until you reach a large city where the game briefly got more interesting to me, thanks to having many of your old friends present at once who rely on you to do pressing matters throughout the city. Had the entire game been made in that fashion, Arcania would have been a much better game for me.

Satirically rude, overdemanding or mad, yes. Much of the time, Arcania feels like satire or parody of RPG clichés. Very few NPC’s you meet feel agreeable and warm. Many quests are delivered with complete bluntness and the player character even comments on this later on “just tell me what monster I need to kill or item I need to find for you and I’ll be going”. The “mad person” quickly became an old cliché in Forsaken Gods and it’s also carried over to Arcania. Most people are crazy in some fashion which might be funny if you think so but to me it was too overused. An even stronger issue with NPC’s were that faces are often reused and voices are often poor (sometimes disturbingly poor). Without looking at the name of people you can barely distinguish them. Later on when a lot of names were dropped in dialogue I found it very hard to remember who were who. All of this made me even more disencouraged to care for NPC’s beyond those who I learned to like in earlier titles.

Without spoiling too much I might also mention that the ending was a lackluster. Gothic 3 had a very powerful ending and really could have been seen as the end of the series, Forsaken Gods teared that ending apart, Arcanias ending made me forced to google it up to verify I got the actual ending which I did.

Engine: Graphics & Sound
The Engine in Arcania is top notch. Arcania simply looks and sounds amazing. The vegitation looks great, monsters look gruesome, boss monsters are unusually large and horrifying, faces look very realistic with realistic looking skin, clothes and weapons are well designed, the landscape is well crafted and the weather system works. Sure, I did have a lot of glaring errors, like NPC's having visual polygon holes right through their bodies and very odd lightning on teeth and in mouths. I just want to mention that this is an example of how excellent graphics can’t replace poor storytelling. Kinda like Oblivion.

But again I have to mention voice acting which is often rather bad. Also many NPC's share similar faces with other NPC's which made it often confusing to remember who's who once the plot begins to wrap up towards the end of the game.

Gameplay
I will not spend too much time complaining over how simplified Arcania is to earlier parts of the series, but I will instead consider how Arcania plays out compared to other traditional designs.

As a whole, combat is solid. The character moves fluid and controls generally works great. I had no issues controlling my character and pull off some great moves.

As a mage I focused on spellcasting and was quickly good enough to hurl fire around me. However, there are only three direct spells you can level up (fireball, icebolts, lightning) and five special runes with special spells in them. Compared to Risen I say that at least the spells are better balanced. The three offensive spells do different things and are useful for different characterbuilds. Personally I prefer to have access to multiple weak spells than one strong through. Had you got access to weaker versions of all three you might have been able to be more varied and strategical in your spellcasting. As it is now you are likely to spend the entire game hurling the same spell over and over again.

Unlike previous titles, Arcania is linear. You follow the plot into a new area that opens up when you make a quest or two, there are no good way to get back except for running long distances. Once in a new area you are likely to talk to all NPC's to get all quests, run around in circles and kill all the monsters, loot all the chests and pick all the flowers, then move on again. Having spent days doing this carefully I cannot say it was worth the extra hassle to chase for the loot. You find ten times more loot that you need and I ended up buying almost nothing and crafting almost nothing since I did not need to.

Most of the quests are delivered in an absurd fashion, almost like the writers tried to insult you for normally enjoying NPC quests, or make a parody out of the traditional "fetch me x items" or "kill x monsters" in other RPG's. Very rarely a quest made me care for its outcome. One interesting thing though is that the game realizes when you did a quest before you get it. When you get your quest your character will automatically say he already did the task awhile back and you still get the XP for doing so. Good stuff.

Now there is something I wanted to mention about the simplification they did. In previous games you had access to lecterns that permanently increased your magic and potions that permanently increase your stats. In many areas this was a reward for exploring. In Arcania you get four quests that spans the entire game. If you find 30 ancient relics, 30 statues, 30 goatskulls or 30 graves you get some really powerful items near the end of the game. This doesn’t make sense to me because the game still have treasure hunting like before, finding the hidden stuff is just as hard as finding the old lecterns and special plants you needed for permanent potions, the only real difference is that here YOU HAVE TO FIND THEM ALL, each and every single one of them, else you get no reward! This is awful gamedesign. It doesn’t make the game more accessible, rather it makes it inaccessible. It exploits people with OCD, it demands a tremendous effort with little reward and high risk of getting no reward. I personally used a map so I would be able to see these special items towards the end of the game, but without the map I wouldn’t even had tried. Imagine putting in the effort for a week just to get cheated on your reward for missing a single hidden item? It’s something about “gotta find them all” quests and achievements that ticks me off and have to stop. I guess it’s a sideeffect of the introduction of Acheivements and Trophies on consoles which developers try to implement without knowing how to make it fun. One better way would be to at least give partial rewards on the road (which is how former games in the series were designed actually), or scatter 60 items when you just need 30. Then you can still enjoy searching for them and still have a chance of reward for being into it. Now if you find a single item and move to the next area you can’t finish the quest. Awful.

Final Conclusion
I believe Gothic is effectively dead and that people who play the series should simply ignore everything beyond Gothic 3 even happened. Spellbound Software just can’t make interesting games or stories. It’s not a question of oversimplification, I could live with that, my problem with Arcania is about the emotional disattachment to the game, a product of bad writing and bad storytelling. Do not make the graphics fool you. New or old, if you care for a good story, npc’s that makes you care, rewarding exploration etc, Arcania isn’t worth your time.
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Old 08-30-2011, 02:39 AM   #1558
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You know the rights of Gothic have been given back to Piranha Bites now right? After Risen 2, they will be making another Gothic game.
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Old 08-30-2011, 10:51 PM   #1559
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Broken Sword - The Shadow of the Templars: The Director's Cut

The ones that read my posts probably know that the first two "Broken Sword" games are still my favorite adventures. I've started playing adventure games on PC with "Broken Sword: The Smoking Mirror" in 1997, which is another reason why I'm so attached to the saga. I've once read that someone called "Broken Sword" games "bastion of adventure games" or something like that. I must agree.

Enough babbling. You may have guessed that I didn't need much pushing to get the "remastered" versions of the first two "Broken Sword" games. But I must say I was very skeptical about them, even though I was blown away by the quality of the SE versions of "Monkey Island".

Now, after I've played it, I can't say that this version of "Broken Sword" thrilled me as much as the said version of MI. Still, there are things to love about it. I can't believe I'm going to say this, but I was mostly impressed by some of the puzzles that were added in the DC version and weren't present in the original game.

What has disappointed me the most about the game is the graphic. Not that I have anything against the original artwork of the first two BS games: I absolutely LOVE IT. The thing here is that DC version didn't brought the re-rendered good old BS look that we all know and love. Instead, there is some pretty serious clashing of styles going on. We have the graphic from the original, some almost photo-realistic close-ups, cut-scenes that looks like they belong to the much more modern cartoon-style games such as "Runaway 3", and of course, the infamous mini-portraits during the conversations. Yes, and don't forget the balloon-type subtitles. At the end, I must say that the mini-portraits fit the most with the timeless graphic of the original.

The another thing that I've found rather cumbersome is the navigation system in the DC version. I simply hated the drag-and-drop method when using inventory items. Since I always play non-widescreen titles on my laptop, the said method caused a lot of the frustrations in conjunction with the touchpad. I also think that the design of the navigation system doesn't fit with the original graphic.

Apart from the few newly-added puzzles, the biggest new feature of the game is adding Nico as playable character and her own little quest to solve. While this part of the story is somewhat intriguing, the big story of BS can certainly do without it.

While the DC version of "Broken Sword" is not what I was expected, it was a pleasurable experience for me. It certainly won't cast a shadow on the original in my book, but original or not, one doesn't need much pushing to dive back into the world of "Broken Sword".

Verdict:

4,5 / 5

Original version: 5 / 5
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Old 09-06-2011, 01:51 AM   #1560
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Infamous 2

It's been about 2 years since I killed my future self and saved Empire City.

As he/you is dying he prophesised that the Beast was coming..

He was right. Infamous 2 starts with you facing off against a HUMUNGOUS red giant who is destroying Empire City.

You get your ass kicked and barely escape to New Marais a New Orleans style town in the deep south.

The local militia don't take kindly to you presence, Monsters are roaming the streets and the Beast is slowly making it's way south towards you.

Time to roam the open world killing bad guys, collecting blast shards to increase your health, doing tricks to gain powers and doing story and up to 60 side missions to gain as much power to fight the beast.

Gameplay

While there has not been a huge amount of changes to the gameplay it has given you enough new powers and a whole new setting in which to go mental.

Infamous 2 remains one of the best open world action games on the market the movement is fluid and exciting as you clamber up buildings, surf along electic wires and fly through the air. The combat has remained tight with new melee options and a range of new weapons from the standard electic shock to cluster grenades and sticky rockets.

You are mostly stuck to the electric man powers of the first game, but you can transfer the powers of one of the two new sidekicks to gain ice or fire powers later in the game depoending on your morale choice.

It also throws in new ionic powers that have to be seen to be believed. Sending a giant tornado down a street seeing it pick up all the cars and throw them at the enemies is always fun.

Verdict

Initially I thought this got off to a slow start as the game starts with a huge battle and then dumps you in a quiet new city with limited powers. However once I started to explore the game got addictive as hell. Searching the city for every last blast shard, message drop and completing all the side missions became so much fun.

The powers are a blast to use, the bigger titan monsters take some beatings and it's a loooong game. I think I must have put about 30 hours into it.

I collected all the collectibles and all the PS3 trophies with the exception of the evil missions as I was playing as a good guy. Now I need to go back and kill some street performers and get my evil on.

Brilliant.

9/10

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOeX4ia8-7c
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