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Lucien21 Gaming Journal 2012

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Walking Dead - Episode 3

As an interactive experience set in this world, it hits all the right notes. The world feels authentic, the characters interesting, the art stlye adds to the comic feel and you spend most of the time talking to other characters.

As an actual game…it’s too short and waaaaaay too easy.

That was my opinion on Episode 1 and 2 and it’s has carried over to episode 3.

It’s still way too easy to complete the game and way too short. However I am starting to think that 2 hours at a time is probably enough for this type of game.

It is emotionally draining playing these episodes. Each one is turning the screws on you and your characters. Making life or death decisions watching characters die and get into scrapes. It’s heartbreaking at times and especially in this episode.

This is definitly turning out to be one of the best things Telltale has ever done and I really hope that they keep it up and stick the landing. The atmosphere is superb and it tackles real adult issues in a pretty decent way.

You start the game holed up in the motel, running out of food. Suspicions of a traitor in the mix. Paranoia and distrust abound soon things go to hell and you end up making a break for it.

I think this is an innovative adventure game that is pushing the boundaries in it’s story and execution. The 3 episodes so far have mounted to 7 hours so with two more to go it will total 10-11 hours. However as I have said before i’m not sure that this is they type of game that will play better once it is all complete. The episodic structure seems to favour it better. In the same way that the monthly comic schedule favours the book.

I’m terrified to play the next one. I don’t think I have been this connected to any adventure game character in a long time. I really feel for the main character and having him take care of a little girl is a stroke of genius that really makes you involved in the story. If anything happens to my Clemantine Telltale are in for a reckoning.

4.5/5

     

An adventure game is nothing more than a good story set with engaging puzzles that fit seamlessly in with the story and the characters, and looks and sounds beautiful.
Roberta Williams

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Walking Dead - Episode 4

As an interactive experience set in this world, it hits all the right notes. The world feels authentic, the characters interesting, the art stlye adds to the comic feel and you spend most of the time talking to other characters.

As an actual game…it’s too short and waaaaaay too easy.

Episode 4 picks up from the end of the previous ep. You have now reached Savannah on the train and get holed up in a large empty house.

What sh** are the Telltale developers going to ask me to do this time. They turned the screws emotionally in Ep 3 so could they sustain it for another 2 episodes.

Luckily they decided to make this episode more personal, more about the characters and while there are still big emotional moments, it’s a calm before the storm.

It introduces a couple of new characters and has running around town trying to find a way to get you and Clem to safety and keep the rest of your rag-tag group alive.

Another strong episode in this series that has me on the edge of my seat.

4/5

     

An adventure game is nothing more than a good story set with engaging puzzles that fit seamlessly in with the story and the characters, and looks and sounds beautiful.
Roberta Williams

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Lucien21 - 25 August 2012 10:03 AM

Dead Island

At E3 2006 a small Polish developer announced an open world Zombie RPG and everyone shrugged and promptly forgot all about it. Five years later and completely out of nowhere they released this…

  and history was made.

In probably the most successful advertising campaign of this generation. Dead Island went from a nobody to the most talked about game on the internet.

Of course a fantastic trailer aside could it ever live up to that promise and actually be a good game. Well no and yet yes.

There was no way it would live up to the hype however beneath it’s slightly janky exterior lies a very good game that is a hoot to play.

I started this ages ago and put it aside for various reasons. This week I finally decided to finish it off.

You play as one of 4 survivors of the virus that turned everyone into undead zombies. You start on a tropical resort in the island of Banoi. Each has their own skills so it depends if you want to specialise in sharp weapons, guns, hand to hand or blunt weapons. I picked the sharp weapon specialist mainly because this is a melee focused game and there is very little ammo for guns and slicing zombies into little chunks seemed like the way to go.

It is a fairly open world RPG so the tropes of the genre stand out. You collect items as you go around, upgrade them at workbenches, gain XP to upgrade you character by defeating zombies or doing the myrid of quests that other survivors give to you. There are the main quest that further the story and a hat load of side quests.

Typical RPG.

Enemies range from the slow moving walkers to the hard thugs, explosive suidide zombies and a range of others. They are all modelled fairly realisticaly and suffer damage depending on where you hit them. Breaking bones or Slicing off limbs and heads are effective ways of killing them, but you can also modify your weapons to do electicity, poison or flame damage.

The story is a bit pants and is barely servicable in getting you from A-B, but the real draw of this game is the georgous surroundings that the first part of the game provides. The Resort you start in is beautiful and from the main hotel to the surrounding beach huts and villas it is a shame you are covering it all in red. They completely get the setting right.

Unfortunatly when you leave the first area it is a bit of a let down, the city is drab and dull and you spend a lot of time in the sewers annoyingly. The Jungle area is fine with lush plants and dirt track roads etc before you finally end up in a drab prison.

The combat does start to get repetitive, but never boring. I managed to push through towards the end by stopping doing the side quests and focusing on the main storyline.

I’m glad I played it, but maybe it was a bit too ambitious for it’s own good.

4/5

http://www.giantbomb.com/quick-look-dead-island/17-4837/  <—- Gameplay

Spot on review! You captured my thoughts more or less to the letter - a rarity!  Grin

The only thing I’d like to add when it comes to my own frustrations with the game is the fact that leveling up almost seems like a waste and it only makes the game harder. The more you level up the harder the zombies get, but seemingly not 100 % proportionate to yourself, so the zombies keep getting harder and harder to kill. Once I figured this out I simply stopped doing sidequests and stopped killing zombies whenever possible.

     
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The Testament of Sherlock Holmes (PS3)

Frogwares have been making these games for a while now. Slowly they have been trying to change it up, innovate slowly. Awakened added a 1st person view, Jack the Ripper had a 360 port but this is the first game to come to all the consoles.

Personally I went for the PS3 version and never regretted it.

The game is controlled in either 1st or 3rd person view by the analogue sticks, with the buttons free for interaction and inventory manipulation. It is a straight forward system that work extremely well. My only issue with the controls was the slow movement of the main character, who when changing direction rotated round before walking in the direction you want.

This promised to be Holmes Darkest hour, the trailers making a huge deal at E3 about how Holmes dies in this one etc. While this certainly is more Holmes centric than the previous games the whole death thing was a bit of a damp squid. He was dead for all of about 5 mins of game time Apart from that the story is extremely well told as what starts off a simple investigation spirals out to murder, prison breaks and holmes being hunted.

It’s a more personal story told through Dr Watson’s narration for most of the game. One that will have people playing more than once. There are some nice nods to the history of the franchise with mentions of the prior cases etc.

The graphics are an improvement on the prior games, but not LA Noire standard. The animations can be slow and plodding, the lip synch off, the cutscene graphics were dramatically different from the ingame engine so were jarring at best and there was a main character that seems to float down stairs instead of tilting to the correct angle.

That being said it is a step up from before, the larger open worlds are great and a treat to walk around,it is probably the best looking Sherlock game so far.

My favourite part of the new game was the puzzles. They were a very good mix of investigation, inventory and logic puzzles. Typically get to a scene, do a lot of walking around and investigating, interact with some things, pick up some stuff, do some straight forward inentory puzzles, but like the final boss of a level you end up with some harder logic type puzzles. It works well and I never felt lost or stuck. That’s not to say that the puzzles were easy, there were certainly some stinkers in there, but thye were clearly laid out what you had to do and it was never the fault of the game. (There was also a skip puzzle option for the brain addled who have no patience that kicked in after a period of unsuccessful attempts. This could be ignored easily. Finally there were the Deduction boards where you pull together all the evidence to come to the correct deduction.(they were fun)

My least favourite part of the game was the fecking odd level with new character that you control, the one that floats down stairs at odd angles. It seemed out of place in the storyline and was incredibly annoying.


Overall, though I had a great time playing this game. The story was top notch and the puzzles were enjoyable.

4/5

     

An adventure game is nothing more than a good story set with engaging puzzles that fit seamlessly in with the story and the characters, and looks and sounds beautiful.
Roberta Williams

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Joined 2004-01-18

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Call of Duty: Black Ops II

Intro

COD:BLOP2 is the latest in the worlds biggest gaming franchise. Brought to us this year by Treyarch the makers of CDO:BLOP and COD:WAW.

Similar to previous games it is a highly scripted corridor shooter where killing bad guys involves pushing left trigger to lock onto and right trigger to kill over and over again as you walk through some georgous graphical levels of madness.

Story this time around places you in 2025 as the son of Mason from the first BLOP game, drone technology has taken over warfare, but a terrorist with links to your dad is trying to take over the world (or something to do with revenge and redistributing the worlds wealth…who knows I wasn’t paying much attention to the nutty story)

You jump between missions in 2025 and flashbacks to the 80’s as your dad when he first meets the terrorist (Afghanistan, Noriega, Ollie North et al).

Choice

The biggest plus for the campaign is that they really have went out their way this time to introduce choice into the game. Previous games have been very narrow corridor shooters where you were essentiall running from one set piece to another. This one is more or less the same, but the levels are more spread out with choices of what route to take.

Most of the other choices in the game are fairly well hidden and without realising it you are effecting the ending of the game. There are about 6 different endings depending on how you do some of the missions. Chase a kidnapper and his hostage, take too long and they get away, accidently kill the hostage or kill the kidnapper it only on of the branching points in the game.

Choices also appear before each mission as you can customise your weapon load out before heading out, you can also do a bunch of optional Strike Force missions. The strike force missions take place on a multiplayer type level and can be either player tactically or as a FPS. Pull out to a map view you can control you soldiers and drones individually or in groups and give them way points, orders etc to attack or defend. At any time you can jump into any of the units and control them directly. Each mission has a 7 min time limit and you only have 6 strike teams so fail the missions more than that and you can’t do anymore of the strike missions. I found most of them apart from the last one to be fairly easy so it wasn’t an issue.

Summary

So it’s Call of Duty, but with some freedom and choice thrown in. Not exactly GTA freedom, but for a COD game it’s refreshing. The story is bonkers as normal, big huge set pieces strung together by paper thin bad guy motives.

For the most part the future missions are the most fun, you get all the cool toys. Steath Camo, personal drones, flying fighter jets etc.

It’s a polished game that is fun to play, but it’s not groundbreaking.

3.5/5

There is also a huge multiplayer and Zombie wave based survival modes, but i’ve dipped into them, but not enough to really say much about. The new pick 10 class perk system seems to work and the game is as well balanced and fun as always. There are plenty of match types and party games can be customised to stupid level (18 player knife fight anyone). The zombie mode is similar to the last one, but only played it once.

     

An adventure game is nothing more than a good story set with engaging puzzles that fit seamlessly in with the story and the characters, and looks and sounds beautiful.
Roberta Williams

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Joined 2004-01-18

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Walking Dead - Episode 5

As an interactive experience set in this world, it hits all the right notes. The world feels authentic, the characters interesting, the art stlye adds to the comic feel and you spend most of the time talking to other characters.

As an actual game…it’s too short and waaaaaay too easy.

After the cliffhanger at the end of Ep 4 I was desperate to see if Telltale could nail the ending. After a slight snafu with the save file not importing my choices into episode 5 I was glad to get it sorted and on with the story.

The episode starts out with another gut wrenching choice, one that is both gruesome and sent a chill up my back and it ends on an emotional rollercoaster Cry Cry . Seriously nobody thought this series was gong to end on a happy note.

I will miss these episodes.

While taken individually the episodes are short and easy, the entire 5 episodes will take a good 12 -14 hours to complete. There is a bunch of replayability, but i’m not sure I want to go through and make new decisions. The outcome is my journey how I wanted to play the game and although I could go back and make different choices it would be a bit like dissecting the game and looking behind the curtain. I stand by my choices good or bad.

Telltale have given us a game that was a complete emotional rollercoaster. People died, people lived, some bad shit happened to those characters againt the backdrop of a zombie apocalypse.

It is quite possibly candidate for best game of the year and not just best adventure game of the year.

I put this down to one thing, one thing that made this game the way it was, that without it, this game may not have had the emotional punch that it did.

CLEMENTINE. I believe that this character made the game. By placing you in charge of a small girl in the middle of all the shit and having her there reacting and watching virtually everything you did in the game was genius. It played on the paternal or maternal instinct to protect kids, one disapproving glance from Clem had me guilty as hell about the bad choice I may have just made. It made me change how I probably would have played the game. I had to protect her, I had to make sure she was safe and I had to make her like me.

Fantastic.
5/5

     

An adventure game is nothing more than a good story set with engaging puzzles that fit seamlessly in with the story and the characters, and looks and sounds beautiful.
Roberta Williams

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Total Posts: 2648

Joined 2004-01-18

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Dishonored

You are Corvo, bodyguard to the Empress, you are returning to Dunwall after a mission to gain allies in the fight against a rat plague.

On meeting the Empress and her daughter Emily you get caught in the middle of an assassination coup. The Empress is killed and you are blamed for her death and imprisioned.

Now, with some help you have to escape, prove your innocence, resuce Emily and place her on the throne as the new Empress.

Gameplay

Dishonored is geared heavily towards being a stealth game. It’s an open world game with multiple objectives to each level and multiple ways to play it.

Each mission has a main target to assasinate and tasks you to get into their location, kill or disable them and get out undetected. Of course you can try the kill everything in sight enroute, but most of the fun comes from the alternatives.

You are given a bunch of supernatural powers to help you out, these include:

Blink: This allows you teleport short distances both horizontally and vertically.
Dark Vision: See through walls.
Possession: Allows you to take control of living things like rats or fish.
Bend Time: Slows down time for a short period.
Devouring Swarm: Summons a pack of rats to attack the nearest living thing.
Windblast: Summons of gust of wind that will knock over enemies.
Shadow Kill: Turns stealth killed enemies to dust to prevent detection.
Blood Thirsty: Allows blocks and kills to build adrenaline.
Agility: Enables you to jump higher and run faster.
Vitality: Increases maximum health.

Combat also provides the usual swords, crossbow (Sleep or kill darts), guns or grenades as well as hacking tools and trip mines.

I played the game the stealthy way so spent the whole game avoiding using the swords and guns etc. So combat for me was sneaking up behind the enemy and choking them into submission and hiding the bodies or shooting them with the sleep dart.

However combat is best avoided by being a sneaky ninja, hiding in the shadows and using blink to access rooftops and pipes etc to go unseen.

It’s basically Deus Ex meets Bioshock in a steampunk fantasy setting.

The multiple ways to complete the missions are what makes up most of the fun in the game. Need to get into a building do you enter the building across the street and “blink” across to a ledge and shimmy round to an open window or do you possess a rat or fish and enter through an air duct or underwater pipe or do you just walk in the front door blasting. Mostly it is up to you as each mission has multiple paths.

There are also multiple ways to take out the target as well. The obvious one is wait until they are alone and stick a sword in them, but every mission has a non lethal option that might include setting them up for something or handing them over to a creepy stalker who will secretly keep them as a love slave.

Overall

I loved this game. The freedom and variety to the missions makes me want to go back and try a different option. Each mission has a breakdown of how many times you were spotted, how many people did you kill etc so going back to try and get the ghost and no deaths (I think I nearly got the Clean Sheet no deaths achievment, but I accidently tossed someone over a cliff instead of placing them down in one of the later levels and had one death).

The painterly art style and steampunk asthetics were cool, the characters and levels were interesting and exploring each level was just so damn fun.

Brilliant.

5/5

http://www.giantbomb.com/quick-look-dishonored/17-6654/

     

An adventure game is nothing more than a good story set with engaging puzzles that fit seamlessly in with the story and the characters, and looks and sounds beautiful.
Roberta Williams

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Joined 2004-01-18

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Resonance

I finally got round to playing a Wadjet game, or at least one that they published. I may even finish Gemini Rue one day.

You start the game as Ed, a maths geek who works in a lab with a Dr Morales developing the Resonance device. When an “accident” happens in the lab it causes a series of events that pull together 4 disparate characters into an investigation of the event and a global conspiracy behind it.

The setting and storyline are well thought out and the snappy dialogue and story points keep you interested in the game from start to finish. (At least for the most part, I HATED the twist and ending)

Graphically the game is very 1990’s, in glorious 640x480, the retro style is functional, but I wonder if the game would have the same appeal with more modern graphics or if part of it’s appeal is the 90’s throwback look.

Voice works and sound are top notch.

Gameplay

For the most part it is your typical P&C game, left/right click mechanics seen in other games, but there are two fundamental differences from most games that make it stand out.

Characters - You start off with 4 sperated characters, but they quickly come together and you can switch between them, exchange items and use each of them seperatly or together to solve puzzles. The multi-character puzzles in the game are some of the most rewarding.

Memories - As well as the normal inventory items you can collect long and short term memories for each character and use them in conversations etc to solve puzzles. Any hotspot in the environment can be dragged into the interface for potential use.

Puzzles vary from simple inventory puzzle to a 3 person multi stage puzzle. Most of them are well signposted with help and clues when required. However there are a couple of stinkers.

There was also the dreaded mazes which popped up in a dream sequence that was fairly annoying.

Overall

Overall it is a fantastic throwback to an earlier age. I loved the multi-character aspect of the game, the puzzles were generally fantastic (with a couple of exceptions) and the voice work and music was top notch.

My main issue with the game and the reason it’s not this years game of the year was the ending to the story. I don’t like what happened to one of the characters and I didn’t fully believe in the justifications towards the end.

Overall though it was an excellent game.

4/5

     

An adventure game is nothing more than a good story set with engaging puzzles that fit seamlessly in with the story and the characters, and looks and sounds beautiful.
Roberta Williams

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Total Posts: 2648

Joined 2004-01-18

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Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask

Another year, another Layton game.

This is the 5th game in the series, but the first one to be in 3D on the 3DS. Professor Layton and crew are called to the city of Monte d’Or by an old friend. The city is being terrorised by a man in a mask, one who is carrying out spectacular miracles.

Layton must confront a tragedy from his past as well as friends and foes in the present to solve the many puzzles and mini-games spread throughout the city.

Gameplay

Ok if you have played one of these games in the past you know how this goes. Search each screen for clues, hint coins and other collectibles. Talk to every character you come across and solve the multitude of logic puzzles they just happen to have lying around. “Yes I will tell you how to get to the racecourse, my dear sir, but first could you tell me how many rabbits need to be jumped on this chessboard to turn them all brown.”

The interface is slightly different in this one because of the 3D top screen. Use the bottom screen to move the cursor across the scene and tap to interact. The screen will pan lef tand right giving you the ability to look round items in 3D. It’s faily impressive tech without the glasses, but it gives me a headache so I more or less turned it off.

The whole game is made up of these rooms which you search, find clues , move on, discover new areas etc etc. Find lots and lots of puzzles.

Puzzles are varied and always fun, from number teasers to chess puzzles to logic teasers to box puzzles. There is a puzzle for everyone. Weirdly enough towards the end of the game there is one long level in the past where the game turns into a Zelda dungeon crawler with lots of pushing boulder puzzles. The controls switched to the analogue stick and seemed out of place.

Of course it wouldn’t be a Layton game if it didn’t also thow a multitude of collectibles and minigames. In this one they range from training a circus rabbit to a robot minigame and a strange get people to buy everything in your shop Tetris game.

Summary

It’s certainly a value package with about 20 hours in the main game and with all the extra bonus puzzles and mini games it will take you a few hours over that.

Storyline is the usual bunkum for these games and the identity of the masked man is so obvious from the beginning of the game that I wondered how the great Professor Layton didn’t also see it straight away.

It is basically a puzzle game and you enjoyment comes completely from the weird nature of these worlds where everything and everyone holds a puzzle for you to solve. (At least there was no tea making this time)

As a range of puzzles it is a lot of fun, but i’m wondering if the formula of these games is finally wearing thin. I did enjoy it, but found myself rushing past the dialogue to get to the next puzzle as there was nothing narrativly keeping my interest.

3.5/5

     

An adventure game is nothing more than a good story set with engaging puzzles that fit seamlessly in with the story and the characters, and looks and sounds beautiful.
Roberta Williams

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Total Posts: 2648

Joined 2004-01-18

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Far Cry 3

I was never a big fan of the first 2 FarCry games. 1 was too open and 2 was just badly designed.

So when I started hearing a lot of positive buzz round this new game I was surprised and decided to give it a go.

Turned out it is possibly the best game i’ve played this year.

Story

You are Jason Brody, overprivilage rich git, who with his two brothers and friends like to party hard. Travelling the world doing extreme sports they sky dive over the twin Rook islands and get captured by local pirate bad-ass, Vaas.

You escape the camp and end up with the local resistance. Now you must help the locals, thwart the pirates and rescue your friends and family.

The story starts out extremely well with Vaas being the best and creepiest bad guy to come out of video games for a while. He makes for a decent villian and the local resistance make for reasonable allies.

Unfortunatly it jumps the shark about half way through the story when the local priestess Citra gets involverd and then it just becomes bonkers.

Gameplay

Rook Island is you typical open world environment and in reality two islands (North and South) and you start on North Island and have access to all of it from the start. However the map is blank and there are enemies everywhere. From the map screen you can see some enemy camps and radio towers.

The first mission sends you to climb the nearest tower and flick the switch at the top. This sets off a panoramic view of that area and uncovers the map in that area.

It’s a mechanic borrowed from Assassins Creed, but it doesn’t seem out of place. There are 18 towers to climb and each have a different route up making them little climbing puzzles.

I then got sucked into the next main gameplay system which was the hunting and crafting system. You start off the game only able to carry a limited amount of weapons, money, ingrediants and ammo. To upgrade your wallet, backpack and weapon slings you need to hunt the animals that wander the island and craft them into larger more sturdy packs.

Your map will show the general area that the animals roam (Anything from pigs and dog to Sharks, Bears and Tigers). Sneaking through the jungle with you bow or gun trying to get a bead on a deer is just fun, esp if at the last minute they scatter because a predator tries to steal your kill.

You can also forage the jungle for a variety of plants that can be crafted into special arrows, health syringes or potions to help you hunt.

Once I did a bit of hunting it was onto the next main part of the gameplay. Enemy bases. There are 34 of them on the map and each of them can be handled in a few ways.  Like the stealthy approach then cirle the base undetected, tagging all the enemy with you camera or gunsight then pick them off one at a time either by using a suppressed sniper rifle (Most guns can be upgraded to include suppression or red spot scopes etc) or by sneaking up behind them and doing a takedown with your knife. Otherwise you can just run in guns blazzing and shoot it out, however if they set off the alarms before you disable them then reinforcements come pretty quick. The other way to do it is to either lure a predator into the camp or release on that they have cages up and sit back and watch the bear/tiger maul the bad guys.

Liberated bases become part of the resistance and a safe spot for yourself to fast travel to, buy weapons and health and generally clean up the map to your side.

The open world and side quests was just fantastic world to play in with a wealth of options to fudge about with.

The main quest was just a bonus.

Overall

Probably one of the best games of the year. It was 28 hours of fun that never got old. Although the story started out fantastic and petered out to a overblown nonsense it didn’t deflect from the fantastic amount of enjoyment I got from it.

5/5

http://www.giantbomb.com/quick-look-far-cry-3/17-6839/

     

An adventure game is nothing more than a good story set with engaging puzzles that fit seamlessly in with the story and the characters, and looks and sounds beautiful.
Roberta Williams

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