Thursday, 1 December 2011

Me and the League E-sports

Over the last few months I've been playing a few games of League of legends. Now if your PC gamer you've probably heard about this games and yes I'll be honest the community has its nastier sides but that's only if you play like an idiot. Kill stealing, Feeding and AFking can often lead to torrents of abuse from players who take the game just a little too seriously.Now i'm not going to do a review since that would just pointless since its and ever changing game with a meta game that changes like the tides instead I'd like talk about its growth as an E-Sport.

Quite recently Riot the developer relesed spectator mode and this has opened the game to be a real  e-sport. Now games such as Starcraft 2 already have a thriving E-sports scenes with guys such as Husky and Totalbiscuit  doing an excellent job at casting top tier games of StarCraft. for me however I don't care much for StarCraft having never played it and not having a history with the game. DOTA like games such as LoL and Hon  seem to me to be a perfect choice to the E-sports treatment due to their high skill threshold to be a top player, the team set ups affecting all and the way every match can turn out down to one or two kills at the right or wrong time. Quite recently Lol had a show at MLG and this was a joy to watch to a Lol player such as myself as it was top tier teams fighting for real money in a way I enjoyed to watch. With the intro of spectator mode I now have the option to watch a game any time I choose to do so. They're are some issues with this mode but its still only in a Beta phase so most bugs can be over looked. The mode allows you to watch a custom matched between 2 teams trying to knock the living shit out of one another and calling each other Noobish cunts to prove their big men! This mode for me as a noob is a great way to learn my own mistakes as player.

Of course like most E-sports there is a problem for people who are new to the game not getting a lot of the technical subtly that take place in a high level tiers of game play. Something that makes E-sports so different from real sports is that we can all appreciate the athletic talents of a footballer who runs around a pitch for 90 minutes but with a E-sports we can't (with out looking out for it) see all the work and skill that goes into the average high level player. Games Like LOL and Hon have a high level for the their skill ceiling.

Friday, 11 November 2011

My plans for this blog

Content I know has been a little sparse of late, that's partly due to my moving to London and a new found social life (Lynch mobs were the most common thing to happen to me in Bristol) and the arrival of Onlive which has opened my eyes to a lot more big titles of late. This being the case I'm going to start moving from doing game reviews and articles and start doing more creative works such as flash fiction or short stories. I will still be a gamer however so I will being doing reviews and articles when the mood takes me. At the moment I'm writing an article on the popularity for apoclyptic games right now which should be finished soon if my schedule allows it sleeping, failing to get with girls, drinking and of course gaming (and some studying) all take up a lot of my time and I find myself being rather burnt out of ideas for new content.

O who am I kidding no one reads this I can say anything I like: George Osborne shot and sodomised my dog. He didn't but hey no ones going to read it and UK libel reform should be coming soon (or is it defamation since I wrote it?) any way hope you enjoy reading and that your sexual prowess peaks while reading my stuff........... I'll write literally anything.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Onlive is frankly brillant.

The title honestly says it all frankly, if you've been on youtube and before you watch the dancing child or annoying tween singers you may have seen adverts for "Onlive" a new cloud gaming services that honestly blows my mind with how futuristic, here's a quick sum up of what Onlive actually is and does:

Onlive is a free service that allows the user to buy games and play games, that's the normal part that we can all relate to with steam and such like. The mental part of this is you never download the game and once you've bought it you can play it instantly! how is the possible you ask? well from what I can gather Onlive streams the game via a video stream straight to your screen and then lets you play. I know that explanation is a little crap but that's beside the point since I'm not a tech guy and all I know is that it works.

When you launch Onlive after signing up at at the website (Link in the notes) you can instantly play loads of free 30 minute trails of quite a few triple A titles such as Mafia 2 and Assassins Creed 2. games are add to the system quite often with various Pre-order options for new games such as Batman Arkham City, Saints Row 3 and L.A. Noire that reserve your place to play them. with most pre-orders you can get a 30% discount if you are a PlayPack subscriber (more on the playpack later) and also a free £5 code off to use on any future purchases.

The PlayPack is one of Onlive introductory offers that allows you to play a large range of games that vary between Indie and big budget games such Batman AA, Borderlands, Just Cause 2, Saints Row 2, F.E.A.R 2 and way more than I can list. The playpack requires a £6.99 per month subscription fee that with so many games really makes the the money worth it really.

The social aspects of Onlive vary right now. you have a friends list that you can add and view what your friends are playing but right now there is now way of joining or inviting friends to games right now. another aspect of the social scene of Onlive is the Arena which allows you to view random peoples games and then choose to give people a Thumbs up or down. So far when people watch my gameplay I kinda of get quite nervous about what their thinking since i'm terribly shy and I don't need my gaming critiqued as well. I've found when people are viewing your play they fall into to two categories the 1st will be quiet maybe give you a thumbs up if you pull off something cool and then leave after a few minutes and the 2nd will go nuts with the thumb options, yell down their microphone that your a useless C*** which if just lovely.

I'll be honest if you've got a Xbox or PS3 Onlive may not be for you, but if your running a slightly older PC or Netbook at you miss being unable to play top tier games I'd say give it a go and like me you may be pleasantly surprised.

Looking Back Through the scope: Borderlands.

Ok first things first: this retro review is possible due to the service ONlive which in my view is the best thing since the blowjob. I could write a entire article on how good onlive is and never do it justice so i'll just leave a link at the bottom and you can check it out for yourself, add "Cynical hunter" if you fancy a game some time.

Borderlands has to go down as one of my favourite games of the last generation: its a great shooter with the best parts of the RPG genre with a great art style and a sense of humour that has me crying some times. That's it *walks away from screen.... returns to screen at the command of man with pump action shotgun pointed at my head* fine I'll write more.

Lets start with the shooting shall we: Borderlands was released with the boast that it had over a bazillion guns to use to rain down death on the inhabitants of Pandora and you know what? THEY WERE RIGHT. The only time i've seen the same gun twice is when they are drops from certain bosses such as Sledges Shotgun which at the level of attainment can be stupidly over powered. Every gun has its own maker and specs which makes choosing a weapon not just which one does the most damage but which ones handle right for you. one gun may have loads of recoil, high fire rate and a large clip while a other will have no recoil, slow fire rate and small clip making choosing a gun for you if a case of trail and error honestly, which some may like while others don't. Guns sadly can't be modded which was a fact that surprised me but with so much choice already isn't a big deal. The shooting it self is great fun as any class and with any weapon, be it a automatic pistol to acidic rocket launch.

On the RPG side of things; there are 4 different character classes to choose from: The soldier who leads the fights with turret ability, the siren who can phase through different dimensions, the hunter who acts as sniper and commands a hawk to attack the enemy and the berserker who smashes foes with his fists. All of the classes have there distinctive strengths and weaknesses, that said I've honestly find the soldier to be the most well rounded for both team and solo play due to his turret pet just being overpowered in certain cases. As you go through the game you can customize your skills by choosing from a variety of different skill trees, meaning that in teams of 4 of the soldiers there will be some difference in play styles between each of them, which can be handy but I'll explain during the multiplayer section. All characters can equip grenade mods that change the way grenades act for example a transfusion mod will steal health from the enemy and give it to you, this combined with class mods can make each character different in how they approach the situations at hand.

Multiplayer is the surely the main piece of the Borderlands ensemble with up to four people blasting their way through changing environments, picking up loot, killing midgets (there are a lot of them), driving across the wasteland, killing more midgets and getting your ass handed to you by Crawmax the secret last boss. Each member of the group scales the difficulty up so it doesn't become too easy, this scaling of difficulty becomes more noticeable when you have people who aren't similar level; For instance I was playing with a group of 3 mates all around level 17 when a level 47 entered the server, this made the enemies stupidly hard and the three of us quickly wiped while the new guy just griefed us before we learned we could kick him and make the server private. There is a slight bug I've noticed on the steam version of borderlands that makes on of the first quests of the game always appear on the quest log as incomplete which quickly becomes annoying when it becomes apparent that the quest is almost viral in its nature and anyone who comes into contact with your character becomes infected as you did making it some quest based STI.

Borderlands is a blast of a game and well worth a look at if you haven't already. Borderlands 2 is on the horizon in 2012 and if it comes to Onlive i will most certainly be picking it up and hope to see you on Pandora.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Looking back through the scope with Cynical Hunter : Batman Arkham Asylum

To express how I truly feel about Batman Arkham Asylum, and to get the whole game of the month thing going I decided to write a plagiaristic poem.
Gunmen are red
Detective vision is blue
Harley Quinn is fit
 Don’t you think so too?
Wasn’t that fun? Now own with the review.
Batman Arkham Asylum. Where do I start? At the beginning I don’t hear you cry out since this is coming from the past.  Batman AA starts on a dark and stormy night. Batman has brought the Joker to Arkham. As you (as Batman) walk through the corridors of the asylum your ears are burning with little snippets of story bait. Has Batman has won against the harlequin hoodlum. BAM KAPOW CRASH and the Joker has broken loose. So we have the setup to the brilliant story ahead of us. With guest appearances from your favourite villains. This surely promises to be the caped crusaders darkest and finest hour.  
First a little bit of history and context: We’d all waited years for a superhero game that truly delivers on the promise of making us feel like a superhero; there are a few games that made me feel like a one of the all powerful: Spiderman was well realised in Ultimate Spiderman and Spiderman 2. Superman had his dignity pounded over a barrel in his game outings and the X-men just decided to beat the crap out of each other in their games. Batman has had his fair share of video game outings with his first being all the way back in 1986. In recent years Batman got a movie tie in game based on Christopher Nolan’s film Batman Begins. He’s appeared in the DC vs Mortal Kombat and even appeared as a LEGO character in LEGO Batman (if your surprised by that I advise you see a doctor). But none of these gaming outings have ever made me feel like the dark knight.  First announced in 2008 by relatively unknown developer Rocksteady;  Batman Arkham Asylum played its card’s on the table with its first teaser trailer; gone are the camp “holy hotdogs” of Adam West and Joel Schumacher’s pun based crime against humanity that is Batman and Robin. Here we had a game that was faithful to the source material of comics. It’s clear to see elements of comics such as The Killing Joke and Arkham Asylum woven deep into the games DNA. Of course the cartoon show inspired a lot of the game’s character. A lot of voice talent from the cartoon is carried over to the game and it sure helps; with Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) and Kevin Conroy (someone) returning to their roles of the Joker and Batman respectively. Thats the nasty lesson out the way on to the game!
First let’s start with the graphics and ting. Batman AA was made using the Unreal 3 engine, the same one that was used for Mass Effect and Gears of War franchises. It’s hardly surprising then that most of the character models look like they are steroid abusing junkies, but in world of where Killer Croc can exist I think we can overlook that. All Major and named characters look pretty good. In some of the lesser characters such as Guards Cash and Boles the faces look a bit odd, but since I bought the game to look at Batman and the Joker I don’t really mind. The model for Batman looks very good, with the model becoming beaten and battered as the night goes on, which adds to the idea that this is Batman’s worst night every. The environments are great looking with both wide open and indoor areas looking very detailed. As the night progresses the island of Arkham does change with *SPOILERS* huge plants trying to kill you (the Bat-weed killer would be an appreciated gadget.) and all these changes are well realised with previously easy sets of terrain now becoming perilous hazards (the insane inmates being a particular nuisance). All the environments are littered with Riddler challenges, which give you a great reason to explore for little references to Batman characters with visual clues hidden all around. Aside from the wonderful little Batman lore snippets, another role of the Riddler’s challenges is to give you XP to level up your Batman to do all sorts of crazy stuff, which in my world leads us nicely to the next topic.
Combat in Batman AA is sort of divided into two main sections: predator mode and badass bar room brawler mode. Predator mode is the stealth section of the game. When the henchman have guns and a direct “your mumma so fat” approach will end in buckshot in the frontal lobes you go stealth mofo on the bad guys. When entering predator mode it’s usually wise to grapple to handy gargoyle (even the sewers have these) once up on your perch, detective vision is the next wise course. From your vantage point you can survey the area and plot your how to take each of these henchman in the most efficient/badass way. As the game progress the foes you face will become more fiendish, making old tactics useless for instance: putting proximity mines on the gargoyles is clearly the result of a diseased mind. Due to the henchman AI every foray into predator mode is different with some travelling in pairs or running off on their own in fear. The second section of combat is the brilliant ‘Free-flow combat system’ which works with the player to allow you to pull off huge combos (my Record combo is 89) . Combat starts simply with one button punching, another counters and that’s pretty much it to start with, however very quickly you can do special moves with your cape to stun your foes, you can throw them at their chums or simply break their arm and snap their shins in twain. Most of the gadgets you attain during the campaign can be used during combat, while some are more useful than others it can be fun to use the line launcher for to do a flying drop kick right in a henchman’s in the face. By the way if anyone found a way to comatose a baddie using the sequencer gadget I will award you a leg of your meat of your choice.
I don’t think I can go any further without mentioning detective vision. Detective vision was basically Batman’s way of identifying where henchmen are, Riddler challenges, points of interest and more. This mode is your most useful tool and when the game was first released reviews would often say that detective vision was too useful and it was possible to have it on all the time. I personally found DV (I’m tired of typing detective vision) really not to be that much of a problem. I can see how DV could be seen to be a pest but to me it was just another tool designed to help me kick ass.
After you’ve finished the game you can continue travelling around the island to hunt for Riddler trophies or you can do challenge mode which is made up of predator or combat challenges. Each different predator challenge map has certain special objectives that increase your score such as “Beat thug old cold using a shoe” (more realistic examples are available. In combat challenges you score points by building up a massive combo using as many different techniques as possible, in this mode you get the more points for never getting hit by thugs or by keeping the combo up the entire round. Each challenge has an extreme mode that makes things very difficult but very satisfying indeed. By the way anyone who managed to beat ‘Shock and Awe’ on extreme is a Witch and will feel fiery justice in hell.
  Batman Arkham Asylum is my all time favourite superhero game (sorry Ulitmate Spiderman and Prototype) I’ve yet to play Arkham City but from what i’ve read and seen i’m sure it will deliver on my hopes for more Batman goodness.

Friday, 14 October 2011

And now for something completely different.

As you may not know I'm doing a creative writing course at uni, this being the case I'm having to practice a lot of different types of writing aside the crap reviews and articles, so here goes a little bit of flash fiction.

I'm playing with my toy soldiers when dad comes home from the pub. He gives my men an artillery strike with his boot, then slaps me with the back of his hand. Mum does nothing.

I'm lying in the long grass with Marie. I know what we've just done is a sin but I feel too good to care right now. Marie starts to cry, I hold her close and tell her I love her. Were married in three months and I'm conscripted in one month later.

I'm being discharged this morning. My Dr claims I'm in good physical health but and mentally a little weak. will be good to see Marie now, she's been pregnant for 6 months now.

I'm walking away from the car accident, so does Marie, My little girls don't though.

I'm sat in the porch watching Marie is moving to her sisters in Bournemouth. We signed the two nights ago, may go to the pub tonight.

I'm fly fishing near the reservoir for the last time. I pull out my old service revolver and that's that.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Stand back. This is going to look so cool.

Remember the good old days when people used to just jump in a vertical fashion? It was wonderful. A man (or woman once they got the vote) would be able to just leave the earth and escape gravity’s dickish hold on them for a few brief moments only to be sucked back to the ground. This process was not cool but it was functional and that’s all that matters really. This simple world of jumping was first tarnished by the ancient Greeks with their triple jumping nonsense and then some to add insult to injury some wise guy added a stick to the process and invented Pole-vaulting. Though out history jumping at speed had only been done so someone else could measure the distanced travelled and assign you a chunk of shiny metal. Over the last 30 or so years various young people started to run and jump for the hell of it. They would jump over bike racks and statues just because they could. This craze goes by many names but the most popular are Parkour or free running and as with most popular actives the media started to show it as something cool but dangerous activity that only bad boys did. The most famous example (I can think of, this is on the internet so doubtless there are thousands more examples) would be the opening chase in the Bond movie Casino Royale. But cinema isn’t the only one trying to get in on the free running craze Games are now one of the best places to do Parkour without the ever present threat of breaking your leg by tripping over a pigeon.
Assassins Creed, Infamous and the like have shown gamers there is a new, fast way of travelling around an open world without having to resort to carjacking. But is this new way of travelling just style over substance? Or is it really the future of traversing an open area? The first notable example of free running like motion maybe the Prince of Persia series whose main protagonist would be adept at acrobatic feats in order to get around a 2D level, as the series became more complex and the characters abilities had to grow with the environment around them so the basics of wall running, ledge grabbing and like became the norm to most platforming games. Prince of Persia was originally owned by Brodebund Software Inc but in 2001 Brodebund was in financial difficulties and sold the IP of Prince of Persia to Ubisoft who released their first version of it in 2003 of Prince with Sands of Time, it was Ubisofts Montreal studio that did the programming for the Prince and it clear this experience helped when coming to one of the biggest series of the last decade.
Assassins Creed came out in 2007 and totally changed the way a character travelled around the a open world setup. Previously in an open world you either grabbed a car or walked slowly as in the GTA series or you would be a superhero such as Spiderman and you would swing around skyscrapers or fly like the boy scout in tights that is Superman. In Assassins Creed your character was certainly mortal and his abilities while farfetched but it was possible to suspend your disbelief because it looked so cool. A large part of the game play was built around your acrobatic abilities either to infiltrate enemy strongholds or to run away from the enemy when said infiltration goes wrong. When Assassins Creed was being shown at various games expos in 2006-7 I remember watching the footage of Altair and being impressed by his animation quality but the audiences who were there at the live event they clapped and cheered because they could see how free Altair was in a beautiful open world that was breath taking at the time.  But Assassins Creed wasn’t the only game of 2007 with touting the use of Parkour as a selling point. Free Running the game (Be honest you never heard of it) came out and was also made by Rebellion and published by Ubisoft. Free running the game was to most an embarrassment and in a sick and twisted way made AC look even better at what it was already doing pretty dam well. 
 In 2009 Assassin Creed 2 was published and improved even more on the formula but in the expo footage there was much less cheering, now why was that? Had the worlds gamers grown used to free running and were already expecting brilliance and were much less impressed when they were given it or had free running based games flooded the market? In the 2009 three more games containing free running were published; Mirror Edge, Infamous and Prototype. Mirrors Edge was a first person game with free running and was noted for its clinical and stylised art style and the use of the Parkour was pretty realistic and the character was only human which helped separate it clearly from the other two major free running releases of the year. Infamous was a visually impressive Ps3 exclusive that had a protagonist who’s travelled across the open world by a mixture of free running and electricity based moves. Prototype had a similar superhero premise but was far more over the top in its execution, with its parkour inspired movement that could have you jumping over entire city blocks. All these games were fun and enjoyable but do we have the issue now that most developing houses now want to emulate this style and having various degrees of success. For instance in 2011 Brink was released to mediocre reviews, getting a 68 on Metacritic. One of brinks main selling points that differed it from COD and Battlefield clones was the use of S.M.A.R.T  (Smooth Movement Across Random Terrain) a system that was meant to reenergise the stale genre, it was a good idea with good thinking behind it but the develops forgot one rule of the genre; If you leave cover you die. For this article I’ve watched a lot of game play footage and I never found a player using the SMART all that often and when they did go for a good run they were gunned down before they got the pace going. Brink could be compared to Mirrors Edge for its first person perspective on free running but the key difference was that while Mirrors edge was a platformer first with light gunplay that could have been totally avoided, Brink was a shooter with platforming elements that could be totally avoided in all honesty.
Parkour based games are proving to titans at the tills with Infamous 1 being the best selling new IP for the PS3 and the Assassins Creed series selling over 20 million copies. The future of free running is surely bright with AC2 Revelations and Prototype 2 on the horizon. Mirrors edge fans will be left waiting a while for sequel as it appears to be in development limbo with EA being cagey about details of a sequel, which is certainly a bad thing with Mirrors edge leading the first person genre in Parkour which can only be a good thing once its execution is perfected.

As with my review of overlord this was first made for publication on the midlife gamer website

Monday, 5 September 2011

The Cynical Hunter reviews The Baconing.... yeah its odd to say the least.

The Baconing is the 3rd game in the Deathspank series by Hothead games, the game is a point and click hack'n'slash RPG in the vein of Diablo or Torchlight but without the fluidity of both, when attacking you can use either sword and shields or various ranged weapons depending on your own personal play style, the combat is chaotic but not in a particularly enjoyable way, ranged weapons are clearly overpowered compared to the melee counterparts and none of your attacks have any particular impact on the enemies your trying to club to death, fights often become confusing affairs with you desperately trying to whittle your opponents health down in lack lustre skirmishes while also trying to keep your health up due to your enemies being able to hurt you even when blocking. As i’ve said combat is a mess but can be slightly enjoyable when using one of Deathspanks many justice moves, these moves allow you to pull of some enjoyably over the top moves on your unsuspecting foes such as summoning drills to ascend from the earth or have a bomber fly over head and bomb your enemies to smithereens, these moves are only allowed when your justice metre is full but this metre is a strange thing, in some large fights it hardly ever fills itself but in the act of smash a chicken it fills its self very quickly.
Deathspank is only a RPG in only the lightest possible way, there is plenty of loot to find and equip but it’s very easy to see which armour is better due to it being the newest, the only stat on armour is health so its incredibly easy to tell one item being better than the other, you gain armour sets very easily as they drop from both common foes and chests alike. The weapons in Deathspank are similar in the way they are organised: for instance one weapon will do 400 physical damage while another will do 150 physical damage but will do 250 elemental damage as well so you have to choose what to pick and that’s all the choice you really have in this game. In terms of dialogue this is where the games sense of humour makes its self clear, Deathspank is a strange fellow, easily manipulated and arrogant he helps corrupt mayors get elected, befouls princess’s gardens and has clear father issues in the form of a gun nut hunter, in conversations any NPC Deathspank has a range of options but all of them lead to the same outcome so you will mostly likely choose the silliest as it just seems the right thing to do, some of the things Deathspank says on his own are really hilarious my favourite being a CSI Miami reference that forces you to stop playing and think about what just happened, i even stopped the game without saving, loaded it up again just for that one sound bite and once I find it on YouTube I will be in nirvana.
The style of the game is pretty unique in its presentation. The world is sort of round so when you walk up the screen the world tilts with you so you’re always finding new places over the horizon, that said exploration isn’t a major factor of the game and your only in a location for as long as quests need you to be. The art style is interesting to behold as it’s very colourful and odd, buildings appear to be 2 dimensional but all the people are 3D, this combined with the way the world moves makes it feel as though Deathspank is walking through a large film set.
Before I make my finally judgement I would like to make it clear I have no experience with the Deathspank world until this game and so probable don’t appreciate this game as part of a series, that said I feel a game should stand on its own as a good game before it is counted as a good game in part of a series.
Deathspank is a game of two halves in my mind; one half is passable with its combat and RPG elements that feel too bare bones to be truly engaging, on the other side there is a great art style with a great sense of humour and wonderful fully voiced acted characters that make the game fun and enjoyable. For fans of the series it’s a must buy and its more than likely you already have, if your new to the series for the price of £10 or so pounds on steam you could do worse than pick it up, that said i would still recommend a game such as Bastion for the same price.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Looking Back through the scope with Cynical Hunter: planned look backs over the next few weeks

This is more of a note to my self, but it shall act as a I.O.U for you dear readers of what older games I'm planning to review due, these will mostly be because a sequel is out soon or has been announced. That being the case here's my planned list.

Batman Arkham Asylum.
Torchlight 1 and 2 when its released
Borderlands 1
Left 4 Dead 2
Killing Floor
The serious Sam series.

These are of course just the game reviews I plan to do, i do intend to do a quickie on the Imbetweeners movie.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Looking Back through the scope with Cynical Hunter: OverLord

Before you read this review of Overlord 1 I should make a few things clear about its origins and who it was aimed for. I wrote this review for a forum called "Midlife Gamer" a wonderful site whose podcast "Midlife Gamer Podcast" is very funny and informative on the world of gaming, ever month at MLG as it is known by members there is a game of the month, a old game that may have fallen off the radar of most gamers but is still worth at look at for a few hours. Over Lord by Codemasters was a game I had played along time ago a so decided to look at it again and review it in order to get used to writing reviews in general, so please enjoy this and do take a look at midlife gamer of which i'll leave a link to at the bottom.

My Looking Back Through the Scope will be my series of reviews of older games, these will usually tie in with the release of the games squeal.

rOverlord Game of the month review by Cynical Hunter. Grammar
First things first this is my first ever written review of a game so please allow all sorts of mistakes in terminology and such. Any criticisms and comments on my review are more than welcome seeing as everyone in our community is so nice (not like those angry trolls over at Gamespot) hope you enjoy this.
Overlord is a 3rd person action RPG with elements of RTS thrown in to confuse you, all these elements are stripped down to their bare essentials so you will never confused this hybrid as a pure breed of or the other, the RPG elements are sparse when it comes to Loot due to their only being 3 tiers of items and the only restrictions of this these is finding the forge needed to make them, you can customise them to a point by adding a few souls to change the armour or weapons abilities, On the RTS side of things your abilities begin and end with the ability to tell where minions they should go, whom to kill and whether they should not be drowning or not, more on the minions later
The game takes place in a fantasy world filled with hobbits with eating disorders, elves suffering from a horrendous case of narcolepsy, dwarves with drinking problems and homicidal unicorns.... so typical yeah? That’s the way with Overlord setting and story; you are presented with the expected and the unexpected jumps you and steal your wallet which is to be expected due the writing of Rhianna Pratchett (yeah Terry Pratchett’s daughter, the apple never falls far from the tree) the games story is and I’ll try to be spoiler free here is a typical revenge quest at its core with the Overlord being raised from the dead and then setting out to kill the seven heroes who beat him last time they meet, however during his time as worm food the seven heroes have become corrupted by wealth and power and so you raise your army of minions to show these heroes how to be properly evil.  You won’t feel emotional invested in the story but that’s fine as the story isn’t what carries this game what carries it are the little balls of joy and petty vandalism the minions.
The Minions are the heart and soul of this game, they do everything you could want them to do they kill peasants, loot villages, ride sheep and generally be unpleasant to the world at large. The Minions come in four flavours, Vanilla is your basic brawler, this little feller is with you from the start and does the lion’s share of the work when it comes to you conquering the world, they can be brutally effective at killing enemies when sent in a swarm but are weak on their own, they will equip any weapons and armour they find so your army with start to look very strange (the rat hat is a interesting piece of head wear)any gold, souls or anything else useful to your cause will be brought to the overlord followed by some grovelling that really makes you feel like a god. The second class of minion is the little red bugger the archer, the archer throws fire and has the ability to absorb fire meaning you can then go places you couldn’t before. The 3rd class is the assassin and this little feller would in a personal ad describe himself as “green and homicidal with GOSH” he likes to jump on peoples backs and start slashing, he is immune to poison and so can destroy pods puffing out toxic fumes that impede your progress. The 4th and final class you get is the little blue healers who are the only one able to kill magical enemies and are able to revive the recently deceased  they are also the only minions who can walk in water. Controls over the minions is simple to learn but difficult in the late game when things get hectic and you need to control several groups of minions but to be honest the tactic of sending everything at one target can often work out just fine. Combat as the overlord himself is just bad, you don’t feel like an all powerful overlord swinging at battleaxe over the poor whelps but instead you feel weak and feeble who could only beat up a sleeping kitten with its paws behind its head. Combat it greatly improved when your magic supply grows and you can unleash some pretty darn spectacular magic spells my personal favourite is the good old Inferno that just looks fantastic when invoked a cowering peasants.
Being evil is the second main selling point to this game after the minions and you are given many opportunities to choose whether or not to be a douche bag to the plebs, civilisation and girlfriends,  the problem with this could be said is that due to the light hearted nature of the world you live in none of the really evil choices have any moral guilt attached to them so the evil option becomes your go to for choices in most cases since playing through the game as a nice guy will leave you poor, bored and sexual frustrated (at least one of these symptoms may be exclusive to me) as is often the way with being good you will often find yourself restraining from pillaging and since that can often be the most fun you can have. Any of these problems I had are tempered with the fact that this game was not meant to be serious and the story was never going to be Dragon Age quality (insert other game that personally got you).
To Sum up Overlord is nice game and has some great ideas in terms of game play but some control issue, the main character being silent (not in the Gordon Freeman badass way). The games true heroes are the minions charm and the moments of chaos they can unleash in full flow are divine to watch. Out of 10 I would give this a above average 6 and i felt it was certainly worth revisiting from when I first bought it when it came out.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Bastion Review on PC

The a masterpiece in any art form is something that all Artist strive to have associated to his or her name and its incredible unlikely to be your first even 50th attempt that gets you recognised as a genius of what you do, In the form of Bastion Supergaint games showed all other game developers how to make a game not just a fun game but a totally cinematic, emotional engaging and game that will act as a reminder gamers for many years to come why they play games. Bastion is a hack n slash at its core with finely RPG elements that complement how you play the game. The game was first released on Xbox arcade but that does not mean the PC port was a after thought, the controls have been totally mapped so the game works well on QWERTY key board but mouse control can be a bit fiddle in terms of aiming if your not used to how a isometric view point works, that said after a few minutes with your chosen weapon of choice you will be dispatching evil do'ers as a pro.

The games story is a simple one, your character "the Kid" (you never learn his true name) wakes up and finds that the world around him has been destroyed in the event know as the Calamity and his choice now is to seek out the last safe haven known as the Bastion. The story is told by a honey voiced narrator whose smooth tones keep the story engaging, especially since the narration system is based exactly on what the kid is doing at that moment in time, for instance the kid may have just been engaged with a boss but left before dealing the finishing blow and the narrator will comment on how all that hard work has been wasted but if you had instead  killed the beast he would instead remark on the Kids prowess with the weapon used to dispatch.  No narration is ever repeated so you may find your self playing the game several times just to hear every word the narrator says. World around  is a key player in any game worth its salt in today games and the world of Bastion is simply breathtaking in both its simplicity and its presentation, the world is filled with watercolours that look as though they have been painted by a true master of the art. As the Kid travels around the world, pieces of the old world before the calamity fly up to meet your feet and guide you towards your objective, the game could be said to be very linear it's nature but there are often points you will leave the beaten path and explore the fascinating world around you and you are often rewarded for this with new items to upgrade your weapons.

The RPG parts of the game are simply to pick up but have lots of room for customisation of your characters personal fighting style depending on your preferences, for Instance I used a Dual Pistol and Rifle build for my Kid so would invest heavily into upgrades for these two weapons. for each weapon there are 10 potential upgrades but you must choose only 5 of these to make your weapon truly unique, aside from guns their are hammers, blade, rocket launchers, machine guns, bows , flame-throwers, grenade launchers, spears and even a battering ram, alongside this large selection weapons you can also choose a special skill that requires black tonic to use so you are limited in your use of these (one of these skills is a loving nod to the portal series) with the weapons available their are also passive tonics and ales the Kid equips at the Bastion to give him passive bonuses and new abilities, alongside the tonics the Kid can pray at a shrine and can make the game harder for the reward of extra experience.

As a Game Bastion is head and shoulders above most of the top selling games on the market and I do hope that Quality of this calibre will go rewarded and from initial reports the game is selling remarkably well for a new IP. So if you fancy a change from multilayer camp fests and want a truly artistic single player story driven  experience I whole Heartedly recommend Bastion.

I feel obligated to mention that you can buy the game on Steam and other digital distrubution sites over the coming weeks for £11.49 in the UK but I would recommend buying the soundtrack edition as the soundtrack of this game is simply the best I've heard in a game.

Editorial notice: my Next review will be either of the a older Death Spank Game or of the newest one "The Baconing Please check these guys out and stay alert for any new projects in the future.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Welcome to My Blog

Hello and welcome to what I believe my become my internet thought bin, for my blog I will be writing and reviewing Films, video games, CDs, books and just be generally putting my thoughts into public domain. Very rarely will I be totally serious as i will try and inject my own brand of comedy into the proceedings. I do hope you find my blogs over the coming weeks, months and maybe years as entertaining and maybe even informative.

When I am reviewing games they will most likely be indie or less demanding on hardware due to my low powered laptop so don't expect me to review Battlefield 3 or anything visual pleasing, i will on occasion i will review older games that may have been forgotten by most but that I feel are worth a look.

In terms of films I'll review some new releases and maybe some older films i've caught on TV or recently bought that I think are worth a look or just avoiding, same deal with music and books, these reviews will be a little sparse compared to my film or game reviews as those are two of my passions.

Any way I'll most likely be updating this blog every Sunday or so. In the mean Time have a nice week and hope you keep reading.

Any comments are more than welcome, I will ask that if you plan to criticise please be constructive and not just abusive for the sake of it.