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Sunday, December 26, 2010

STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl - LURK Mod

I'm a huge fan of Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl. I've played through it countless times but I have never done so with one of the full game overhaul mods that are out there. So the last time I decided to battle my way through the Zone I thought it was a good time to try a Mod as I did so.

The MOD I decided to use is one called LURK. It's put out by a group of people that post over on 4chan or at least they use to. I'm not sure if they still hang out on that board as I am a little late to the LURK party. I believe this was released in 2009 but it may be a little earlier than that. What I do know is I played the 1.1 release from June of 2010. After the very simple install process I was ready to see the Zone in a whole new way and I am really glad I did.

This Mod doesn't really change any of the core story to Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl (From here on just called Stalker) but it adds and takes away some things from the core game play. Once you've loaded the game and started you come to a new title screen with the LURK logo and all the usual options except multiplayer, that is gone and really who plays Stalker games for the multiplayer? I've never even tried it let alone spend any time with it. You start the game and see the usual cut scene of you being brought in to Sidorovich then you notice the changes.

All the textures have been changed and they look amazing. All the places in the Zone look like they're suppose to but they all look so much better than the core game does. Lighting effects are improved and really add to the whole atmosphere of this experience. Another thing done to help with immersion is the removal of the HUD. Gone are your life, brain and radiation meters. The mini map is gone as you have to rely on your PDA map to get around. The only thing that remains are some very small words letting you know your weapon stats, Rate of fire, ammo in the magazine and the surplus of ammo left. While knowing your current ammo is important they should of just done away with that and had a completely clean gameplay area. The other thing I really like is the improved weather effects. When it rains in the Zone it pours and when the sun goes down you can't see 5 feet in front of you. There was a time I was waiting for the sun to come up so I decided to run to a Stash right near the Stalker Village in the Cordon. On my way back I was jumped by a couple Boars and I had no idea where they came from and I couldn't see them until they were right on top of me it was really fun. The darkness also makes night missions way more interesting as you are in complete blackness except for a flashlight or the night vision if you've found a suit with it installed. The character models all look great, people and monsters alike all look way better than the core game. It may seem like here I'm just saying, "Hey this looks better, it's great!" But it's true the game flat out looks better and it still run all maxed out no problem on my system.

The overall biggest change to Stalker with LURK installed are the guns. First off the Mod adds a ton of new guns for you to use. While the base game had a good selection it felt a little light as you usually ended up with an AK of some kind and maybe a sniper rifle later in the game. With the weapon selection in this you have way more options. First off I used the AK as soon as I got my hands on one but soon I switched it up and started to play around with what else this offers. Guns behave more like they would in real life, recoil is crazy if you go full auto on a machine gun, the kick will have you looking into the sky and swaying all over the place if you hold down the trigger. When aiming you do not have a completely steady aim, it sways as you look down the sights or through a scope. The Mod creators said this is to add the "human element" to shooting as you will have sway when aiming a real gun and it's a cool addition. The guns in the base Stalker were not the most accurate, you could shoot someone pretty close and still miss completely. This has also been fixed and shooting from the hip works pretty well if you're in a close combat situation even without the crosshair. I was able to shoot people pretty easily from the hip and it best to do this in close quarters then try to iron sight. Near the end of my first playthrough of Stalker I was pretty much only using the G36 and it was the same thing in the Mod. As soon I was able to get one it was all I used until inside the Power Plant when I switched to the FN2000. So in the end I loved all the new guns but I ended up using what I always did and while it felt better to shoot it then in the base game I would of liked to find a new gun to depend on. But that's just me you're mileage with the the guns may change.

The other big change and apparently this is only with later versions of this Mod like the 1.1 I played are with the artifacts. In this Mod they are powerless, they do not give you the stat bonuses like they do in vanilla Stalker. I really, really liked this as you needed your own skill to survive and didn't depend on becoming a power house through the use of Artifacts. Now they're really vendor trash but they are worth a lot so it's still worth it to pick these up and take them back with you to sell. It brings the game more in line with the source material Roadside Picnic as I remember the artifacts not having any powers in the book but people still wanted them. Selling them is great because money has a bigger need in this Mod. You can repair weapons and armor, buy hotel rooms to pass time and all the vendors sell way more stuff then in vanilla.

I did have some problems while playing this but the biggest one was my own fault and I'll save that one for last. As you play the game can hitch up making it seem like it's going to crash. I can best describe this as being like lag in an online game, I'm going to guess it's the mod and the game's engine conflicting or something, I'm not sure but it's not a big deal. Speaking of crashes I did have a few. When I first played Stalker the game crashes twice the whole time through and that was with Windows Vista. This time I'm using Windows 7 and I had maybe about 3 or 4 crashes. Again not a big deal for a Modded game that was released before Vista was a thing but crashes are there so just quick save often.

(Slight Spoilers Ahead)The biggest issue I had was after fighting one of the Controllers. When a Controller attacks you the screen goes fuzzy and your vision goes all double. When this happened in Lab 16 I killed it and started to head back to the Bar. The double vision didn't go away but I figured this was due to the increase of difficulty in LURK, it would take longer for this effect to go away in real life I thought to myself. Well I made it back to Rostok and Duty opened fire. I didn't know why and with the double vision I had a hard time against them. After some research I found a patch for the 1.1 verison of LURK. I had downloaded the whole mod again thinking the patch was included in the zip file but I was wrong. One of the bugs the patch fixes is the endless Controller double vision. I installed the patch and the double vision went away. After that I went back to look at the path from X-16 to Rostok in my double vision daze I had killed some Duty guys, oops!

I mentioned the higher difficulty in the mod and yeah it's there. With all the guns being more accurate the NPCs are better shots and without the minimap to show you where they're all hiding you can get shoot from a good distance so you need to be careful and keep a good lookout. For me it added to the tension of being in the Zone but for some it may be overwhelming. If this sounds like something you may not be into play this at a lower difficulty. I didn't play on Master, I played on Veteran and until I had some good armor I was getting destroyed, with the proper armor and a good understanding of the shooting you can get through this game no problem. I think people play Stalker Mods like this one for the challenge so I'm going to assume anyone reading this isn't afraid of a challenge.

To end this, LURK is a fantastic total conversion of Stalker. Being the first one I've tried I have a lot of fun playing Stalker with this installed. I plan on trying out some of the other Stalker Mods out there namely Oblivion Lost which I've heard a lot of good things about but for now the main way I'll play through Stalker is with LURK installed.

I'm not going to assign a number score to LURK as it's a mod but if you own Stalker: Shadow of Chernobyl download LURK and try it out it's so good and make sure you have the patch.

Link to download LURK 1.1 and the patch.


Friday, December 24, 2010

100th Post! What to write about? (It's going to be La-Mulana)

What's La-Mulana? That's a question I found myself asking at the end of last year. I saw the first couple video's of a full play through on Youtube and instantly I was interested in playing the game myself before I continued to view the rest of the play through. I downloaded the game and the needed English language patch and I was ready to dive in. Fast forward about a year and I finally finished La-Mulana, I did everything. Found all the collectibles, all items and earlier this very night I beat the ridiculously difficult Hell Temple.

La-Mulana was released for the PC in 2005 developed by the then known as Gr3 Project who I believe go by the name Nigoro. La-Mulana was created to be a tribute to the mainly Japanese MSX computer system and especially the game Maze of Galious. The MSX came out in 1983 and didn't really catch on outside of Japan. Konami was a big supporter of the MSX releasing many of their most famous franchises on the system. Metal Gear, Castlevania, Gradius, the list goes on and on. La-Mulana is a throwback to that time in gaming, a time when games didn't hold your hand and you had to have the skill and the know how to figure out the puzzles in the game you're trying to finish.

You play as Lemeza Kosugi and Archeologist out to one up his father by getting to the treasure of the ancient city of La-Mulana. You arrive at a small village on the outskirts of the ruins and as you enter the madness starts. The play style is similar to a Castlevania game, as Lemeza uses a whip with various subweapons. He also behaves a lot like Simon Belmont as he suffers from the infamous Castlevania/Ninja Gaiden jump back when he gets hit. And yeah it's as frustrating in this game as it was in the other's I mentioned. It also has the feel of Metroid or the many Metroidvanias out there, you hunt items to get to places in zones you couldn't get to before.

From a mechanic standpoint La-Mulana is a well made game. The controls are tight and feel great with the way this game is made. The one thing that's a pain to deal with is the grapple claw item which let's you wall jump. That can be tricky at times but once you master it you can pull it off no problem.

The graphics aren't the best I've ever seen but with GR3 wanting the game to look like a MSX game they did an amazing job of making it look like that. I like the overall look of the game and it's great to play a game that leaves something to your imagination in the age of graphics of substance that we live in now.

But the one area La-Mulana excels at is the music! The music in this game is AMAZING! Every song is memorable, I find myself humming some random song from this game almost all the time. I downloaded the sound track and I listen to it any chance I get. I'm even listening to it as I write this, it's so good. The only music I grew tired of was the Hell Temple music and that's probably because Hell Temple was agony and the music was just bothering me after awhile. The core game took me 24 in game hours to finish and that entire time I wanted to hear every song as often as I could. I may be going on and on about this but I can't stress enough how good the music is in this game.

Speaking of the Hell Temple, this game is very hard. Some of the puzzles are very devious and you'll pull out some hairs trying to figure out what to do. Added to that at the beginning of the game Lemeza is very fragile and a few hits can kill you. As you power up death is really only an option against bosses but some of them are brutal to fight and can take multiple tries to get by. A saving grace in the ruins are the monuments or gravestones. Every solution is on a monument somewhere in the ruins, they're not always in the same zone as the puzzle and you may find some solutions way before you even encounter the puzzle so you absolutely need to pay attention or use a walkthrough. I can level with you here and say I eventually caved in and started using a walkthrough. Some parts of this game are insane to figure out and I would love to meet someone who made it through this one without some sort of a hint guide or anything like that. Even with the guide the game is still a ton of fun as the story and such are interesting and the game is just plain fun to play, that is until Hell Temple.

Hell Temple is the extra zone at the end of the game. After you have everything you can unlock Hell Temple and try to get through it. Hell Temple is one of the most difficult things I've ever done in a game ever. I made it a good way in without help but I eventually had to consult the La-Mulana Wiki and watch some videos on Youtube to help get through it. But when I did I felt a great sense of accomplishment and I was glad I took that challenge but it's something I will never do again, even if I replay La-Mulana the Hell Temple can stay locked up and it's treasures can stay hidden.

Right now La-Mulana is a freeware PC game but sometime next year it's suppose to be coming out on Wiiware. The graphics have been improved greatly and the game looks amazing. They are having to remove the MSX references due to copywrites and all that jazz. It looks like they're adding in substitute ROMS to replace all the MSX games you find in the ruins but we'll see how that works. I've heard they're going so far to make Hell Temple even harder than the current games version of it and that's not what I want to hear but I say bring it on! It's been confirmed that Hell Temple will not be in the base game download due to Nintendo's Wiiware game size limitation but it will be released as free DLC I think the day the game comes out or shortly after it's released.

Either way La-Mulana is a game that should be played by anyone who enjoys old school 2D games. If you download the PC version or wait for the Wiiware version you should seriously play it.

La-Mulana - 10 out 10

Link to the La-Mulana wiki, you can find information about the game and where to download it.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Super Meat Boy

Another game I've been spending a lot of time with recently is the PC release of Super Meat Boy. Let me tell you this right now, this game is AMAZING! I've played a lot of newer 2D platformers in the last few years and I don't think anyone has nailed the feeling of them like Team Meat in this game.

I had played the original Meat Boy over on Newgrounds and was eagerly awaiting the release of Super Meat Boy.

You can play the original Meat Boy here...


Anyway what makes Super Meat Boy so good? It's pretty much everything it does, first off the controls. The game has some of the tightest controls I've felt in a game for a long time, especially a PC 2D platformer. I started out using my keyboard completely ignoring the game straight up telling me to use a controller. After getting my ass handed to me I dug out my wired 360 controller and was back to playing in no time. Even with the crap 360 D-pad this game controls flawlessly. Meat Boy does exactly what you want him to when you want him to do it. It feels great when you jump and weave your way through a particularly tough section only to survive and move on to the next level. There isn't ever a time when you're fighting with the controls, I can't stress this enough, they're great.

The game looks and sounds good as well. The graphics are nice 2D and the cutscenes are done in what I call the Flash Cartoon format. They also do a lot of shout outs to old games. The intros to each chapter are taken from old school games and it's really cool when you notice and remember the game they're imitating.

Super Meat Boy also has some of the best music I've heard in a long time. I'd consider it up there with Cave Story in how good the music is. I still think Cave Story has this game beat in great music but SMB is a close second. I really like that the music doesn't restart when you die it just keeps on going. With many hard games it can be annoying when the music restarts when you die, even to a point of grating on you.

The main thing Super Meat Boy has going both for and against it is the difficulty. This game is crazy hard! It hates you and everything you stand for. Super Meat Boy wants you to suffer, it will never be nice to you, it would kill your pets if it could and laugh about all of it. Now this will turn some people off but if you're like me and hate seeing games hold your hand then this is the game for you. I still haven't finished it but I keep plugging away at it making a little progress each time I play. Another thing about death in SMB is that when you die you are almost instantly back to try again, there is a slight moment before you respawn but it's so short it's never an issue. When you're in a warp zone on the other hand there is a wait as it shows a screen with your lives and you have to wait a bit before trying again. Think of it like the original Super Mario Brothers, but it only happens in the hidden Warp Zone levels and Glitch levels, not in the main game.

SMB offers around 300 levels to try and get through. The main path, darkside versions of those levels which offer more of a challenge, and hidden Warp Zones. The Warp Zones can be throwbacks to old school games, either looking like an Atari 2600 or a Game Boy among other graphical looks. Warp Zones can also offer other characters to play as. Team Meat reached out to their Indie dev friends to bring in all kinds of characters from other games. The 360 and PC version share some of the same characters but they each have a different set of Bandage characters, these are characters you unlock as you collect the often difficult to grab bandages in the levels. The only character from the 360 version I would of liked to see in the PC version is the guy from Spelunky as I'm a huge fan of that game but with Spelunky coming out on the XBLA it makes since he's in that version.

I want to also mention the support for this game. When SMB came out on the PC it has some bugs on release. I only saw the crash on exit bug but some people couldn't even play the game. Team Meat has done an amazing job of patching this game in the short amount of time it's been out. From what I understand it's just one dude doing all the code and they're churning out patches like mad. Most major developers take ages to patch a game and these guys are on it all the time. I commend Team Meat for this and even with the buggy (for some) release of SMB they have earned my money for anything they put out! Huzzah! To them!

At the time of this writing I have not finished SMB as I'm stuck on World 4 and it's really kicking my butt. But I can safely say this game is really high up there for being my game of the year and in a year of a lot of disappointing releases it's awesome to see this one come out and rise to the top.

Super Meat Boy - 10 out 10, Play it! Even if you just play the demo everyone needs to try it out. See how two guys can make a game that's better than most big studios.

One Chance

One Chance is a flash game that recently came out on Newgrounds. It's getting a lot of buzz on the various gaming sites so I decided to give it a try.

You should probably play it before you read on. I'm giving any real spoilers but this is a game that should be played fresh. It only takes about 10 minutes.


In One Chance, you're a scientist who has just recently helped cure cancer. What you find out very early in the game is that same sure has turned into a deadly airborne virus and in 6 days everyone on the Earth will be dead. In the final six days of living you have various choices to make on how you will spend that time.

The main gimmick here is the game only lets you play it one time. I've seen a few flash games that are trying this technique and it's extremely interesting. Games where your choices matter and you can't go back and change what you've done. This was seen in Heavy Rain earlier this year where if a character in that game dies the story just continues with said person dead, no quick loads to bring them back. I really like this mechanic and would like to see it worked into more games. You can play again if you go in and delete your flash cookies but not everyone knows how to do that and it defeats the purpose of playing a one playthrough type of game.

But with One Chance the atmosphere is really well done. I loved the music that plays during the game and it fits with the changing environment as you progress in the final days. Some of the choices presented to you are difficult to choose between as you have no idea how they will effect the future.

I don't want to go on anymore as I'd hate to let something slip and ruin it for anyone. But definitely check it out, it will only take about 10 minutes.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Kane and Lynch 2: Dogs Days

I have finally played Kane and Lynch 2 and I have some things to say about it. Eagerly awaiting it's release I ended up not picking it up when it was released at the end of the summer. I was in the middle of other stuff and it had to wait. With the Thanksgiving sale on Steam it was only 5 bucks and I decided to finally grab it and give it a go. I was in the minority and thought the first Kane and Lynch was a flawed gem of a game. While the gameplay wasn't the best the story and characters were fantastic, with Kane and Lynch being two of my favorite characters ever. What did I think of the sequel? Read on to find out!

In this installment in the Kane and Lynch saga you're playing as Lynch who after the events of the first game is living in Shanghai and he's found himself a new lady love. Apparently Lynch is still up to his old tricks running with a crew and doing bad things. Tasked with smuggling some weapons he calls up Kane to come and help. From what the game says they haven't really spoken since the events of the first game but Kane comes anyway to do one last job and finally retire from a life of crime. Let's just say this doesn't really work out for them and a bunch of stuff goes sour which leads them through 48 hours of hell in the city of Shanghai.

Like the first game Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days is a cover based third person shooter. You hide behind cover and shoot at guys as you make your way through various areas around the city. The first noticeable difference from the first game is the aiming is improved. It's still not on par with other shooters but it feels a lot better this time around. There are still accuracy issues with a lot of the guns just not hitting anything when you fire at something. The aiming reticule does this shrinking thing when you hold your aim a bit letting me think your next shot will be more accurate but you still miss half the time. When you get rifles later in the game it's better but it can be a pain when you need to take people out from range.

The squad mechanics of the first game are gone from this one. You always have Kane with you but you cannot command him to do anything. He will fight beside you and get downed on occasion but he will get back up on his own. If you go down you have the option to hit a button and jump back up into near by cover to regenerate your health. The AI for Kane is decent and he will actually help you kill people which is good as in many of these games the AI never helps.

The visual style of this game is amazing. It's done as though you are behind Lynch filming what they're doing. You get light artifacts and sound glitches as you you hit and from large explosions. One part in particular near the beginning of the game has the camera just take a dump and go crazy after a large explosion, I would of liked to see more stuff on this scale in the rest of the game but it never happens to that level again. Even in cut scenes the camera is always in a position as though someone is holding it and it's always well done. The hold handy cam footage gives the game a dirtier feel to it. It's make the already grim stuff you do feel even more grim, making it seem like you're watching some internet death video. They use mosaic to edit out some of the more brutal stuff, headshots get the mosaic effect as does any genitalia that happens to be shown. But the most gruesome part of the game is not censored and this game earns it's M rating.

A major complaint I've heard is about the length and I see why. Three hours, yeah three hours. It took me three hours to finish Kane and Lynch 2. SO right of the bat it's WAY to short! I didn't play it on the Extreme difficulty as I was so interested in seeing what happened I decided I just wanted to get through the game and I did exactly that. I blazed through it in the aforementioned three hours. I have gone back to play it on Extreme and the game is just down right cheap on that level. Enemies can head shot you from no where and they take to many shots to kill. Being with the inaccurate guns it's just a pain to try and get through it. It seems it's balanced for the online co-op the game has not balanced to be soloed.

Speaking of online this game does have online co-op unlike the first game. Fragile Alliance also makes a return. In Fragile Alliance you play on a team of criminals trying to get away with a heist. After you loot the cash you can then decide if you want to turn on each other or still fight as a team. This also includes an Arcade Mode which is basically Fragile Alliance as a single player game with bots. What I do like is the money and rank carries over so you can build up some cash solo then go online and not have to be outgunned because you can't afford to buy the guns as this has a Counter Strike like weapon upgrade system where each round you can buy more guns with the stolen cash. I've only played a little of the Arcade Mode and it's fun but i have yet to try the online modes.

In the end Kane and Lynch 2 is fun but it's really too short. The story isn't the greatest thing ever. It has some nice moments that remind you just how messed these guys lives are and the basic interaction between Kane and Lynch is great. As flawed as they are they are truly two great characters with terrific voice actors. I'm going to kind of blame the weak story on the fact this game focuses on Lynch instead of Kane. After the first game I just see Lynch as a good supporting character not the lead guy. But I do understand that the first game was Kane's story and this one is Lynch's but it had problems. I hope if they do a part three they go back to focusing on Kane and just let Lynch be his crazy self in supporting role.

If the first game had looked and played like this one I think IO would of had a big hit on their hands not just a cult hit. Story wise the first game is way better and mechanically the second game blows it away. I will play any other Kane and Lynch games but we'll see what the future holds for these two dudes.

Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days - 6 out of 10

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Where have I been? Blog Updates and such..

So it's been awhile since I've done a proper amount of updates. I had a few updates through out the months of October and November and only one review in that time. Well, two if you count the Fallout: New Vegas thing. So where have I been? What have I been doing?

To start things of lately I've been playing Fallout: New Vegas. About a month after the game came out it was patched on the PC to fix the performance issues so the game is actually playable now. I've put about 40 hours into it in the last couple weeks so most of my time has been put into that game trying to get it finished. But after around 40 hours in the game I have not been in Vegas yet. I've been around the wall that surrounds the city but not inside.

The last couple days I've been taking a break from that and I've been playing Super Meat Boy. I'm not done with it yet but I can safely say the game is amazing! It's one of the best platformers I've ever played.

While I was waiting for the New Vegas fix I put a fair amount of time into Vindictus and Minecraft.

As far as this blog in concerned I'm going to try and get back to updating everyday, even if it is only one article I will be doing daily updates no matter what.

So look for more content soon and I am also hoping to start adding in video updates as well. While I do enjoy writing about the stuff I've been playing sometimes I feel like I need to just kind of rant about them be it in a good or bad way. This sometimes I think needs to be done by me talking about so I'm planing to start video updates in the future.

That's it for now and look for more stuff in the future.

Monday, November 15, 2010

I had a chance to play the Playstation Move

Yesterday I was inside a Fry's Electronics and they had a PS Move set up to try out. I figured it was a good of time as any to try it. They only had the "wand" part out and no controller attachment to use. I had to do the calibration which I felt worked really well and was very easy to do and I was ready to play. The game they had to try was the Move Sports Demo with only a few events unlocked to play. I decided to go with the already loaded table tennis.

I was able to play one full game. The control of the paddle with the wand felt nice but to me it didn't feel any different than the Wiimote and suffers from the same problems the Wiimote has had the entire thing has been out.

The game itself looks nice but I can't shake the feeling this is just a HD Wii Sports. My biggest issue with it was the AI woman you play against. She kind of cheats and then just rubs it in your face with her stupid little cheer when she scores. The whole time I was playing I was wishing it had a button to throw the paddle at her for being a jerk.

Here's where I had my biggest problem, while I was playing this random guy walked up to me, pouring sweat and basically told me I was doing it wrong and I should try an easier game. After that I decided I had had enough of Move and put the wand down, never to be touched again. It wasn't really hot in the store and it was really nice outside so I don't have any idea what he was doing to work up this amount of sweat. He wasn't just sweaty but it was just pouring off of him. It was really strange but whatever.

In the end I think Move works for what it's suppose to be. The paddle moved with my movements on screen and the tracking was great. But it doesn't change my opinion on motion control in general and I really think it's come out way to late to get on the motion craze, the craze I think is kind of dying and being replaced by the 3D craze.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Cryostasis: Sleep of Reason - The Ice Cold Review

Over the last couple days I decided to finally finish Cryostasis. Cryostasis is a horror FPS game that was released for the PC in May of last year. I picked it up during a Steam sale late last year after hearing a lot about it on other sites. Developed by Action Forms and published by 1C Company, this is one of the best horror games I have ever played.

Basically, Cryostasis is a first person shooter, you play as Alexander Nesterov a Russian meteorologist, who comes across the nuclear icebreaker North Wind while dog sledding in the north pole. After some events you end up aboard the ship and start to explore it. The crew is dead and in there place you find some crazy people who are out for blood.

The action in Cryostasis is a very slow paced game. You do not move extremely fast, even the sprint you can do isn't the fastest run I've ever seen. With the game taking place in the north pole your character is bundled in heavy winter gear which explains the slow pace.

The combat is interesting also. You get a combo of melee and firearms. The melee weapons work well enough but you eventually get your hands on a gun. The shooting feels really good but it like the moving is slow paced. Reloading in particular can be excruciatingly slow, but it ads to the tension when you have some monster running at you, it's so much fun. The game is set in 1981 but the guns all come from the WW2 era, like the Mosen and PPsh-1 but they're all fun to shoot. One thing to note is the game does a great job of making sure you have ammo. I never had an issue with running out of ammo. I remember having one time I was down to one clip for one rifle but I never had to go back to melee after finding my first gun. I like that balance. When a survival horror game or any FPS in general has a ton of ammo management it can take away from the experience but Cryostasis nails it perfectly.

Cryostasis has a very interesting visual style. Taking place in the cold, Cryostasis actually feels like a cold game. When the snow is blowing and the screen starts to ice up you feel like you're in the game. The way the ice clings to the walls and frosts up the weapons is amazing but all this comes at a price. Cryostasis is a real resource hog. To run it at max you'll need a pretty beefy machine, but it's really worth it. This was also the first game to use the Nvidia PhysX graphics features and it adds a lot of graphical effects to the game but also comes at a performance cost. The one thing that really stood out for me was when you're outside the boat, the blinding nature of the snow is unreal, clingy to life as you watch your health slowly run down.

Health in the game is handled in a different way. In this game heat equals health. As you explore the game you can find heat sources, be it a lamp or something on fire. You have to walk up to the heat and warm yourself to gain health. There are areas that are exposed to the extreme cold and you will slowly lose health until you get back to the "safety" of the inside.

Cryostasis is a scary game. I don't tend to really jump at horror movies but games are another story and this one is at the top of this heap. I had started playing this last year but after one part in particular I jumped so bad I had to quit. Like many horror games though once you learn it's tricks it's easy to see the scares coming but with Cryostasis even when the jumps gone it's still a creepy game. I'd have to put this one up there with the first Condemned as being the scariest game I've played.

But the scariest thing of all in this game are the bugs. I've heard that unpatched when you get to level 12 you can get stuck in a no clip mode and just fall out of the level. They did fix that and I never saw it in my play through, I did see other issues though. These were mainly in the form of crashes. I didn't have a single crash until the aforementioned level 12. It crashed once in level 12, then in level 13 the game would constantly crash. I kept playing, and in the levels 13, 14, and 15 I must of crashed about 30 times. It would happen maybe every 5 to 10 minutes give or take a few minutes. I did some research and didn't find the exact solution to my problem but some other tips helped me out. I verified my files on Steam and it found one that was broken, redownloaded it and all that stuff. I heard it was the patch that was redownloaded but I'm not certain on that. I also turned my Shader to 4.0 which is what the game calls DirectX 10. I took a frame rate hit, not much but it was noticeable. In the end it stopped the crashing and I was able to finish the game level 15 on, without a single crash. I have to take a point or so away due to the crashes being there to begin with but the game's story is so interesting I would of tried my best to finish it with the crashes going on.

In the end Cryostasis is a great game, I really enjoyed my time with it. The setting is unique and the story is extremely interesting. You can get this game on Steam for 12.99 at the time of this writing and I highly recommend it if you have the PC to run it.

Cryostasis: The Sleep of Reason - 8 out of 10

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Co-Op, I think we need more of it!

When most people think of online gaming they tend to think of the competitive side of it. Team Deathmatching it up in games like Halo and Call of Duty. I like many other people do enjoy the competitive side of multiplayer but in the end I really do prefer a online Co-Op experience. I've spent many, many hours playing COD4 and Team Fortress 2 online, Halo 2 sucked up a good chunk of time when it came out for the first Xbox. It even goes back to playing Quake over my 56k modem watching it chug under lag trying to play.

Like I said above though, I usually prefer a co-op experience over the competitive side of gaming. That goes back to games like Contra, Bill and Lance side by side fighting the alien invasion, Smash TV, Ikari Warriors all kinds of classic co-op goodness. We had those type of games for awhile then it seemed to kind of vanish in favor of the competitive games, I really started to notice it when the consoles went online. Online deathmatch just seemed to take over everything and a lot of people thought co-op was dead but we did see a resurgence.

Games like Gears of War, Left 4 Dead, even Halo has it. It feels so fantastic to be able to play through a game with a friend or even a random guy from online it's still a blast. But sadly, some games that I think really needed to have some kind of co-op in them did not have the feature.

Call of Duty 4 with all the awesome online multiplayer did not have a co-op mode. I think it could of been a better game with co-op. Infinity Ward had said they thought co-op would of ruined the experience but most of the time you're with a bunch of AI teammates which could of easily been replaced with some real players. Story line wise and with the way some of the levels are built you can still make the argument for not having co-op but it should of still been there. World at War had co-op in it and it was a lot of fun to play and didn't really take anything away from the game to play with three other people.

STALKER one of my all time favorite games ever but missing co-op play. Now Shadow of Chernobyl is a story based game, you're a central character doing your thing in the Zone but I have an idea. How about a co-op free roam mode? You can get into the game area and play with some friends but just explore the Zone, taking down Bandit camps with your buddies planning and being successful in your raids. STALKER has the competitive multiplayer which I've never played and I've never heard of anyone even playing it so why waste the time with it? You'd probably have more success with a co-op mode in this series.

And the big game, the one that made me want to write this article, that game is Far Cry 2. One of the core mechanics of Far Cry 2 is the buddy system. You have a buddy that will come and save you from combat if you lose all your health. They blast in guns blazing and pull you out of the fire. How amazing would it be if this was a real person? You could have a lot of people playing this game at the same time. The map is gigantic and without the loading screens it could be super immersive. The key point in Far Cry 2 that made me want co-op were the boats. You can ride these little fan boats around and they have two seats. One to drive and a gunner post. As I was riding down the river all I could think of is someone should be on that gun watching out as I drove but alas, it wasn't meant to be. If they make a Far Cry 3 and it follows the path of Far Cry 2 then it absolutely needs to have co-op.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Fallout New Vegas!!! Not so fast there dude!

So I was lucky enough to get into the Fallout New Vegas Beta and let me tell you... Hold on, wait, no I paid for this game. It's a full retail release! Holy crap!

Yeah so last week Fallout New Vegas was released. I stayed up until midnight waiting for it to unlock on Steam and was so happy when it finally did. Only this happiness wouldn't last very long, soon it turns to sadness then finally great anger!

At first the game was running great for the whole introduction and tutorial stuff with the doctor it was all great. As soon as I stepped into the wasteland it all went to hell. The first thing I noticed was the massive drop in frame rate. At some points it was like watching a slide show of someone's visit to New Vegas and not playing a game. Now my PC isn't as cutting edge as it once was but I can still play most new games maxed out and I could 100 percent play Fallout 3 maxed but this game, nope runs like mud. I thought I should fight through this and just enjoy it but it was so hard. Next up I noticed some of the enemies getting stuck in the environment, some of the Geckos you need to fight at the start were hard to get to due to them being stuck, sometimes more than half way into some of the rocks. Another thing with the frame rate it seemed to slow down the most when a NPC was in the area then just go to the single digits when you looked at or talked to said NPCs.

So, okay I can deal with this I'll just play the game. Well I decided to save and go check out some forums to see if this is just happening to me or if it's widespread. I save the game and exit. As I'm reading about all the other people having these frame rate issues I see that the auto and quick saves aren't working right and something is causing the Steam Cloud to revert back to an old save. Panicked I loaded the game and saw I had lost about 3 hours of play time. Garbage! This is just crap!

Through out the next day I checked the various forums to see what was going to be done. A patch for scripting and quest issues was released and that's all well and good but if people can't play the game who cares about broken quests? Some people even almost a week after the game came out can't even load the game without it crashing. Apparently they fixed the save issue by shutting off the Steam Cloud support but I've still heard of save issues. Also there is suppose to be a fix for the frame rate that involves a modded .dll file but I won't try it. I don't feel comfortable with trying to solve an issue with a modded file downloaded off the internet. Lot's of people have said it worked and makes the game run at a smooth frame rate but I'm not going to bother.

My initial thoughts were this is the game Fallout 3 should of been before Bethesda but their "magic" touch on the series and just made a boring Oblivion with guns. In the few hours I spent with New Vegas it felt more like a Fallout game then Fallout 3 could ever hope to be. Obsidian programed this one and they're made up of a lot of the old Black Isle Studios crew who made the First two Fallout games.

Besides all that I can't believe this game was released like this! It's a freaking beta at best. I've heard the console versions constantly crash and have their own set of problems. For a big triple A title like this to ship unplayable is a disgrace. PC gaming is so past this when you bought a game and hoped it would work period like back in the DOS days.

I've given up on New Vegas I should of known better. To me Obsidian hasn't ever really put out a great game. KOTOR 2 was a travesty compared to the first one. Neverwinter Nights 2 kind of missed the whole point of that series and I never played Alpha Protocol but we've all seen the reviews and heard about the large amounts of bullcrap in that game. The the blame is also on Bethesda for this garbage engine. Gamebryo has been janky sense Oblivion and because they're Bethesda they get a free pass? Listen Daggerfall was brilliant, Morrowind was a good game but Oblivion was a boring wank fest and Fallout 3 was Oblivion with guns, another boring wank fest, bang bang!

If I were to give New Vegas a review number right now it would be a 1 out of 10. The 1 is because I had hope for about 45 minutes. Will I review it in the future? Probably not, I've given up on it, even if it gets fixed I'll probably never finish it. But I'll say this here, it's the last Bethesda or Obsidian game I'll ever buy, screw both of them!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Some thoughts on Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2

Left 4 Dead is a series I overlooked when it came out. I tried the demo on the Xbox 360 and didn't really think a lot of it. I never picked up the full release even after hearing it was a great game. Flash forward to about a month of Left 4 Dead 2's release and I still hadn't played the full version of the first game. While browsing Steam I saw that with a preorder of Left 4 Dead 2 you could get Bill's Hat to use in Team Fortress 2 and I am a sucker for Team Fortress 2 stuff so I decided to preorder Left 4 Dead 2 so I could get the hat. Steam also had a deal that you could get the first game with a preorder of the second and save some cash so I bought that one too.

A few days later I decided to fire up the first Left 4 Dead to try out the full game. After playing for a bit I found myself having a really good time playing the first Left 4 Dead. I wasn't playing it online, I like to play through a game in single player before I take it online. I beat all the campaigns and around that time Left 4 Dead 2 came out so I moved on to that one. I cleared all the campaigns by myself and then I just moved onto the next game. A few months later I decided to take Left 4 Dead 2 online and you know what? I really suck at it! I was doing campaign co-op and I was just so freaking bad I couldn't believe it. Again the game went on the shelf and I didn't look back. Recently I started playing the two games again and I have some thoughts on them both and the series as a whole.

First off I know this is probably common knowledge but the second game is far and beyond the better of the two. I remember the community getting up in arms about the release of L4D2 about a year after, saying it should be an expansion pack and all that jazz. Almost everything about the second game from a mechanics standpoint is improved. From the melee weapons added to the way the Zombies act and the number of Special Infected. I think the second game does a better job of telling the overall story even with what little is presented as you play the game. Now to me the one thing the second game has that does not surpass the original game are the actual survivors.

The cast in the first Left 4 Dead is one of the best game casts in the history of gaming. The way Bill, Francis, Louis and Zoey interact with each other is done so well. These characters are just so likable, they each have a roll and they all fill it perfectly. Now with Left 4 Dead 2 the cast isn't nearly as strong as the first game. To me the weak point is Rochelle, she just isn't a good character. I can't think of any memorable things she has said and I know absolutely nothing about her back story. I'm shocked that Valve went with her as a character especially after having a really strong female character in the first game. Next is Coach, by himself he's not really a great character but his interactions with Nick and Ellis are fantastic and really makes him come to life. With Nick you get the mysterious dude in the group. You know he's a gambler and some kind of criminal but as you travel through the campaigns he drops hints that he may be darker than first thought. He makes references to getting brains and blood out of his suit and his coldness to the other survivors shows what some could think of as a darker side.
Finally we have Ellis, Ellis is to me the best character this series has ever seen and could be considered one of the best FPS characters in the history of the genre. With his stories about Keith and his overall optimism in spite of the Zombie Apocalypse is fantastic. The way he interacts with the other characters make them all stronger just because of him and I think that says a lot about Ellis' strength as a character.

With the DLC The Passing you learn that Bill was killed and in the Sacrifice you get to play the events leading up to his death. When you play the newer of the two the group picks who sacrifice and it's not Bill each time but the official story is that Bill died. I know the Left 4 Dead series isn't about cinematics and grand story but the way Bill's death is handled in the game is not that great. You run from the group to hit the generator, die and that's it. You get a few lines from the other survivors yelling about Bill's death. I would of liked to see a cinematic or something for Bill dieing. For a series that's all about these guys to kill off one that a lot of people loved and only have it be a passing moment to me is kind of messed up.

That leads me to the one thing I don't like about this game, which is the story telling. I know for a co-op focused online shooter the story isn't really important. I would of liked to see the story fleshed out more at least in the single player mode. The characters do talk back and forth to each other and you get some insight on them as people and such but if you interrupt any of it you miss out. If they had done some beginning and end campaign cinema scenes to flesh out the story it would of been awesome.

I've been playing the online versus lately and it's really fun but I do suck at it. Playing as the infected is really cool but I really suck at that. I've been going back and forth between the first and second game and they are quite different. I actually played the second game before I played the first so going back and being online with the first game I was wondering why I kept spawning as the same three infected but then had to remind myself I was playing the first game! Earlier today I decided to try Survival in L4D and again I suck at it. I'm not use to being this bad at a game online but I am still having a great time playing and I'll continue to do so.

What really got me interested in playing these was playing the Call of Duty: World at War Nazi Zombie mode. That has some neat things in it with them including the Perks from the multiplayer and some really fun to play as characters. While Left 4 Dead is a more complete game it could take a Que from COD:WAW. I would love to see a perk system included in the eventual L4D3 and even more variety to the weapons.

As many people know the Left 4 Dead games are great and I wish I had started playing these games back when they first game out but now I'm having a really fun time playing them.

Monday, October 11, 2010


Sombreros is a top down shooter brought to us by Dustin Gunn. The game comes from a group remake project to remake the games found in the Action 52 set of games. Most gamers know Action 52 as one of the biggest pieces of garbage the gaming world has ever seen. It came out on the NES back in 1991 and has been the subject of tons of internet videos over the years. You can check out some info on that here...


This is the link to the Action 52 remake page. It lists the games and who has choosen to remake the game.


Dustin Gunn has taken what was an abortion of a game and made a really fun to play overhead shooter in the vein of Commando or the old NES Gunsmoke. From the little bit of story I've seen you're playing as a sheriff in a nameless Mexican city. The main villain has stolen the towns supply of sombreros and you're out to get them back.

You head north through the city shooting all who get in your way. The arrow keys move you and the X key shoots. You have another power to use and it's kind of like a bullet time thing. It reminds me of the slow motion shooting from Call of Juarez, you hold the C key and then you pick your targets. When you let go of the C key your little dude just unleashes a hail of bullets on the selected targets. It's really cool and I love to do it. This also comes into play at points in the levels when you have to throw down and have a good old gunfight with enemies. The game automatically goes into slow mo and you aim at one or more people before they can get a bead on you.

The game has a fun Mexican theme through out. The enemies drop sombreros when you kill them and those power your bullet time mechanic. Pinatas which you shoot are the checkpoints in the game which took a moment for me to figure out. At one point Chihuahuas will latch on to you and slow you down.

Right now my main complaint with the game is the shooting. When you hold the fire button and move you stay in the direction you're shooting until you let go of the X key. At points it's cool to hold your direction but I found myself sometimes wishing it would switch without me having to make me let go of the button. Maybe it could of had two fire buttons, one for free fire while moving and one to let you stay in direction while moving.

I haven't finished the game yet I'm about half way through level 2 and the game I believe has 3 levels. I just had to take a break to write this as I was really enjoying the game and wanted to talk about it. Definitely check it out if you like Commando or similar games.

This is a link to Dustin Gunn's blog. Scroll down a bit to find Sombreros.


Second Look: Medal of Honor Beta

The last time I wrote about the Medal of Honor Multiplayer Closed Beta I basically said it was crap and I stand by that statement. Back in July when I was trying to play this it was glitchy and pretty much just broken. If you're interested in my thought of the game back then here's the link to that article.


With the actual release of Medal of Honor coming out this week EA had the open beta to help test the servers for the multiplayer. After hating the game during the summer I decided to give it another shot and downloaded the new beta and tried it out.

I can say that a lot of the problems have been fixed and the game is actually playable and guess what? It's actually fun to play! My main gripe with the original beta was the hit detection, you could head shot a dude, watch their head kick back and spray blood all over the place all from point blank range and they wouldn't take the hit and probably kill you. This was completely fixed you point your gun at someone and shoot and if the shot is lined up and your aim is good you hit them! It's like playing a working shooter!

The other thing that was crap was the game crippling lag. I know it was a beta but the game lagged so bad it was extremely tough to play. Sometimes I thought the lag was the problem with the hit detection but even when the game was running with zero lag the hit detection was still there. In the open beta the lag was pretty much gone and the game ran really smoothly.

As the first beta this one looks fantastic and manages to keep up a decent frame rate with all the setting turned up all the way (I'm was playing this on the PC). Medal of Honor is a great looking game, I'm extremely impressed with the way it looks.

The unlock system for the multiplayer is still the same. The unlocks are class dependent which I'm not a fan of but it's just what DICE does with it's multiplayer games.

There is another big change that doesn't affect gameplay, EA decided to remove the Taliban from the multiplayer. Now they're the Opposing Forces, yay! I was shocked in the first beta when I noticed they were the Taliban but I thought EA and DICE had some balls for putting them in the game and I applauded the edginess of it. I'm really disappointed they removed the Taliban as everything about the game is showing the current war except for who you're fighting. That's just crazy denial and I would of loved to see EA stand it's ground and keep a real villain in the game.

In the end after the first beta I wrote of the new Medal of Honor as just garbage and another me too Call of Duty clone. After last weeks open beta I think the game has a chance to be really good, again while it still feels like Call of Duty Lite I think it can hold it's own in the FPS jungle. Especially with so many people jaded by Modern Warfare 2 this may help the overall sales and get people to play this one. I'm still extremely interested in the single player but I don't like the idea of a 60 dollar PC game. Maybe if they lower the price or there is a sale for the game on Steam I'll grab it, I just can't bring myself to pay 60 bucks for a PC game.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Day

I was reading on Indie Games Blog today about a new game called, The Day. The Day is brought to us by Armor Games who have put a lot of great games on their site over the last few years and this one is no exception.

You play a game named Tia and the game takes place during her birthday. For her birthday Tia's father gives her a game card similar to something you'd see in Magic: The Gathering or other battle card games. You go around battling the other kids in your town collecting their cards as you win and eventually get to the conclusion.

The interesting thing about this game is you find out rather early on you're confined to this town which is really a camp of sorts. You're warned to not leave the area and go into the woods as the guards will shoot you on sight.

The card battling game is very simple but it's just the backbone to the games very short story. With two endings the game can be played in about 15-20 minutes and it's worth your time to play it.

You can follow this link to play The Day.


Wii Mote Plus

Nintendo has finally come to their senses and decided to integrate the Wii Motion Plus into the default Wiimote. Before you would have to buy a little doggle thing that plugged into the bottom of your controller to get the full effect of what the Wii was suppose to do when it launched but didn't.

I haven't had a lot of experience with the Wii Motion Plus but what little I have had I thought the controller was a little weird to hold with it sticking off the end. I always felt as though the doggle was going to fall off if I did anything really waggley. Personally I would be very cautious about buying a Wii Motion Plus for this very reason but buying a controller with the same default size as the regular Wii Mote with the Motion Plua added is right up my alley.

I do think Nintendo should of put this new model of Wii Mote out instead of the doggle but at least they're making the change to this and for that I applaud them.

Nintendo 3DS = $300...

Today Nintendo announced the release date for the 3DS in Japan. That date is February 26th with a North American and European release sometime in March. They also announced the price, 25000 yen or around 300 U.S. dollars.

The idea of a hand held costing 300 dollars especially one from Nintendo who in the past have always kept the price of their various hand held machines pretty low.

I know they're putting a ton of features into the 3DS and it does look to be an amazing machine but when you price your hand held higher than your current console it just kind of bugs me. I'm sure the 3DS will sell like crazy and I hope to pick one up myself but I will 100 percent be waiting for a price drop.

The one feature they're really showing off is the Gameboy and Gameboy Color virtual console that will be available on the 3DS. This will not include Gameboy Advance games at first but could in the future. Now in theory that's an amazing thing but looking at the state of the Wii's virutal console and seeing the wasteland of nothingness it has become I can only be skeptical of the new one. I mean we have major Nintendo releases that haven't been put out on the virtual console but we're seeing garbage like Aero The Acrobat 2 on the service when Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island isn't out yet. I just hope they actually continue support on the hand held VC after it launches but I have little hope of that.

Overall the games for the 3DS look sweet especially what I've seen of Super Street Fighter 4, it looks like the console version which I think is pretty impressive and if the 3D effects for it actually work I think it could be a fantastic way to play SSF4. I think the 3DS will do well and have good games but I also think Nintendo will need a little bit to get all the services and such in order and they need to support what they offer beyond the first few months.

(Yeah I repeated myself near the end, deal with it!)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I finally finished Spelunky this morning!

If you don't know what Spelunky is then you need to just stop reading this and go here to download and play this wonderful game.

Spelunky World

Okay now that you've done that or you've played Spelunky before we can continue. Spelunky is a 2D platformer done in the "RogueLike" style, made by Derek Yu. What is a roguelike you ask? It's a type of game where usually the game is entirely randomized at the start and when you die that's it. No other chances no extra lives, one life and then it's the end. It all started with an old game from 1980 called Rogue and then moved on to games like Nethack and Dwarf Fortress and more mainstream with the Diablo games and their hardcore/hell modes. I've of course played Diablo 1 and 2 to death and liked my trips into the hardcore mode but they always ended in death and me quiting. I've messed with Nethack and Dwarf Fortress a little bit but I've had a hard time getting in to them.

It was probably sometime last year when I first played Spelunky. After seeing some videos of it online I decided to try it out. After a few very quick deaths at the hands of an arrow trap, a spike pit or just straight falling to my death I kind of stopped playing it. This wasn't any real fault of the game I just had to many other games on my plate at the time to spend the needed time with it. Lately I've been without a main game to focus on other than Team Fortress 2 so I decided to give Spelunky another go. Well here I am about a week or so later with 250+ deaths and I finally made it to the end of the game. I know others have had way more deaths and have been probably trying way longer but I'm proud of my win. I did it without robbing a shop and without a jetpack or a shotgun. The last boss was a dangerous adrenaline filled battle and one of the best boss battles for me in recent gaming memory.

One thing I learned as I played and did some research on Spelunky is it's never the game's fault you die. Some games are cheap with cheap pitfalls and unfair deaths. Not Spelunky, if you die it's because you screwed up. It reminds me of Demon's Souls as that was a game where the cheap deaths were minimal if there at all. When you first start playing Spelunky you need to take it slow, watch your surroundings. You have to look out for the arrow traps, the spikes all the enemies out to get you. It's one of those things that's hard to really explain but if you spend any time with Spelunky you'll see what I mean. The game is winnable at the start every time it's just up to you the player to make it to the end.

The only thing about Spelunky's randomness that is a big negative is sometimes items you want to find can spawn off the map. One example and a small spoiler is in the first level. In one of the levels in the first area a Key and a gold chest will spawn. You need the key to open the chest and get the Udjat Eye an items needed to enter the City of Gold later in the game. On rare occasions either the key or the chest can spawn outside of the level and you will never be able to get to them. It only happens every now and then but it is kind of game breaking but, you can still beat the game if this happens you just can't make it to the City of Gold. In playing over 250 tries the happened to me maybe 3-4 times and none of those times did I make it far enough to even think about the City of Gold.

In the end though Spelunky is fantastic and needs to be played by more people. I know I'm preaching to the choir on this game as it's been around for awhile and I'm late to the party on playing it like crazy but here it is. I have finished it and I plan on playing it like crazy for the foreseeable future. There is still a City of Gold for me to find and I will find it!

Right now Spelunky is available on the PC at the link I posted above. It is also coming out to the XBLA sometime in the future but I have no idea when exactly. Which ever way you play it you need to it's great!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

From Software announce Project Dark

This past week at Tokyo Game Show From Software makers of one of my most favorite games of all time Demon's Souls announced a new game. This game is tentatively being called Project Dark but many were claiming this could be a direct sequel to Demon's Souls or in the least a spiritual successor. Well by the looks of the following video it's at least a successor and that's okay by me. The game is coming out on the PS3 and the Xbox 360 next year and I cannot wait for it.

Demon's Souls had a definite ending that didn't really hint at the possibility of a sequel. The only thing that you never saw was the sixth world that's locked through out the whole game. If From Software can get the feel of Demon's Souls down and give us a whole new world to explore and new lore to learn about I'm all for it. Boletaria was an amazing world and I would love to see it again but I think I'm more excited to see the amazing stuff From Software could show us in a new land.

Anyway expect to read a lot more about Project Dark here in the coming months. I'm so freaking excited for it!

Here's the reveal trailer.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Ico, Shadow of the Colossus HD remake

So we finally have the official word on what the gaming community has known about for the last few months. Ico and SOTC are getting the HD remake treatment like God of War 1 and 2 and the Sly Cooper games had done to them. I for one can't be happier about this one.

I never had a chance to play Ico and I'm not into buying used games so I've never picked a copy up online or anything like that. Not wanting to miss the boat on SOTC I picked it up soon after release and was floored by it. I can't say anything about it here that hasn't already been said but the game is amazing and pushes the PS2 to it's limits. With the PS3 rerelease of these I'm hoping SOTC can be seen in all it's glory without the slowdown and lag the PS2 version had. And now I can have the chance to play Ico which as I said I never did but with this HD remake we're getting the European verison of the game which has more content than the US release so even people who have played Ico in the past can have a chance to see something new.

I'm not happy with all the remakes and reboots we're seeing in gaming in the last couple years as it just seems to be following suit with the movie and TV industry but this is a rerelease I approve of!

OMG! Phantasy Star Online 2!!!

The Tokyo Game Show is going on right now in Japan and there has been a ton of announcements but not really a bunch I really care about. Out of the big two that really interest me one is the Ico/Shadow of the Colossus HD remakes we've known were going to happen for awhile now and the announcement of Phantasy Star Online 2!

Any reader here knows my love of PSO and how I was unhappy with the series as it went onto handhelds and the 360 with Phantasy Star Universe. Something with PSU just didn't sit well with me as it didn't have the same feel as PSO did. Neither did the handheld versions I've played, something was always off, didn't feel right. If we have Sega taking what was so special about PSO and expanding on that, I'm psyched for it.

Right now PSO 2 has been announced for the PC for a 2011 release but no word on a 360 or PS3 version. Either way I'll take more PSO anyway I can get it.

Developer Spotlight - Locomalito

I was reading the Indie Games Blog and I came across what looked to be a fun game to play. This game was L'Abbaye des Morts. The game has a simple look to it kind of a throwback to the Spectrum and games like Manic Miner and Jet Set Willy. With anticipation I went quickly went to download it but found the hosting site for this one had reached it's limit and I could not do it. After some searching I found the developers Twitter account and sent them a message asking for another source to download this from. Being they're in Spain I was not expecting a response until today. Well I woke up this morning to find a response they had put the game up on Filefront. I jumped up and immediately downloaded the game and just a little while ago I beat it.

L'Abbaye des Morts is a 2D platformer in the most simple of definition. You can run left and right and jump, that's it. You do not have any attacks and you have to dodge any enemy or obstacle in your way.

Here's the story taken from the page on the Locomalito site.

In the 13th century, the Cathars, who preach about good Christian beliefs, were being expelled by the Catholic Church out of the Languedoc region in France.
One of them, called Jean Raymond, found an old church in which to hide, not knowing that beneath its ruins lay buried an ancient evil.

I thought it was interesting and in a game with out a huge drawn out story the one they've given to this one is good. The ending is fantastic and you don't really see many games with an ending like this one, if you play it make sure you finish it. That being said the game isn't really that long, it took me about an hour to finish it but now knowing what to do I could beat it in about 10-15 minutes. The controls are spot on, they're perfect. If you die it's because you screwed up, not due to faulty controls. The running and jumping have a great feel to them, I really like the floaty jumps without making it feel like your flying. Ths music is really good too, with it's simplicity they made some great songs that help set the mood for the whole adventure. This game is great a lot of fun to play and you should check it out if you're into this type of platformer.

Here's the link to this game on the developers site


So last night as I was let down I couldn't download L'Abbaye des Morts I decided to try out some of Locomalito's other games. First up was Hydorah a 2D side scrolling space shooter, in the vein of Gradius and Lifeforce.

In the vein of is probably the wrong thing to say because this game could very well be a Gradius game it's that similar. If they were going for the ultimate in Gradius fan service they nailed it because this game is bad ass. The main ship looks just like Vic Viper and you get some of the standard Gradius weapons as you progress. I haven't made it to far into this one because let me tell you it's hard. It will break you down in parts. Everything you're up against is out to kill you including the walls and it's been along time since I've played a game where the walls kill you. I've been spending a lot of time playing DoDonPachi lately and this game is still kicking my ass so that's more proof of this game's challenge. And to dig it in further the games let's you save but you can only save three times during your campaign. This limit on saves makes for an even more challenging experience because you need to pick where you want to continue from and can't just go saving after each level. The game itself tells you to practice and get better and not to give up which I think is a nice touch. Again I haven't beat this one yet but I plan on spending a lot of time with it.

You can go here for this one


Finally after Hydorah had it's way with me I decided to check out 8-Bit Killer. This one is a FPS game done in the 8-Bit style. Think of something like Wolfenstein 3D but with simpler graphics but 8-Bit Killer has mouse support. This is the big thing that stood out for me as I played this one. It has mouse support but it's really tight for turning. I had to up the DPI on my mouse to get it close to what I wanted and it still wasn't exactly there. You can play using just the keyboard but I can't do that anymore so I have to use my mouse. I made it to the second set of levels of this one and had to quit because it was getting late but don't let that keep you away because it's good. It does not have a save function but the site says it's short and easy and I can attest to the game being easy but I'm not sure how long it is but I was at 2-1 when I quit. It has a story and weapon pickups and all the early 90's FPS standards. I really like the art style in this and if you like FPS you should give it a whirl.

Here is the link for this


The developer of the above games is again Locomalito. On their site they have a Philosophy of gaming. A list of things that they believe to be needed to make a successful game and have a happy gaming community. I've read the list and I agree 100 percent with the things they say. Games today are way to easy, developers can get so wrapped up in holding our hands they forget the challenge. The other big thing that's mentioned is the remaking of old games, yeah we want old school games! But we want new games with that old school look and feel. I don't want to get off topic in this so I'll post the link to the above mentioned list and you can read it yourself.


Anyway I know I've only been playing Locomalito's games for the past few hours but I've been blown away by what they're doing. These game deserve a look take a few minutes and go check them out. I'm sure you'll be pleased.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Some thoughts on the Halo series.

Oh Halo the only reason the original Xbox had any success at all despite the fact it had other games on it that were way better and I don't mean Halo 2. Halo was the title that had so much potential until Microsoft in their infinite wisdom snatched up the developer Bungie and had them put out a castrated version of the game on the Xbox console. I've played all the Halo's up to Reach which I will probably never play because I no longer own a 360 and I don't plan on buying another one.

I like many other people bought Halo with my Xbox console. It was the game to own the "killer app" if you will. I got my machine home hooked it up and slapped Halo in the drive. A few hours later I turned the game off and I don't think I ever put it back in the machine. Having already played most of the game at a friends house before having my own I had seen most of what the game had to offer but what it offered wasn't enough to keep my attention for a real playthrough and me actually beating the game. To me Halo 1 was just a generic sci-fi fps game with uninspired locations and the same 5 enemies through out the whole game. From the beginning I had little hope for the console Halo after all the promise the PC version was showing to see all the stuff Bungie cut out to make it work on the Xbox it was a shell of what it would of been. It's like FPS lite, huge redicule, big ass hit boxes bland visuals and a cookie cutter story. Now with Halo 1 it did have the multiplayer going for it, with some fun maps and it was just basically fun, for what it was. It lacked online but you could still have a blast shooting at friends on splitscreen, in the end it lacked the long term staying power because of the lack of online. When I look back at Halo 1 all I see is a failure due to the move to console and the dumbing down of the whole FPS idea.

Halo 2 came out and it was considered the greatest gaming gift by many people. I remember going to pick up my copy and rushing home to play it. I was thinking the addition of Xbox Live support would make the series what it could of been on the PC and make the multiplayer a lasting experience. I've written an article about Halo 2 already earlier on this very blog so I won't go into super detail here but I'll share some thoughts. We all know the campaign in Halo 2 was garbage, a piss poor story that was worse than the first game plus who liked playing as the Arbiter? I'll tell you who, no one! Even with the great Keith David doing his voice no one wanted to play as someone besides Master Chief. It was like Metal Gear Solid 2 when we had to play as Raiden, nonsense! Bungie introduced the new revolutionary ability to duel wield weapons and the console FPS fans were beside themselves with love but it wasn't a new feature to the FPS genre. The first game I remember playing with duel wielding was Rise of the Triad on the PC back when I was in high school so that's sometime in the 90's (94 to be exact). So then we had Halo 2 online yeah it was interesting and I had some fun with it but the maps were garbage. Bungie should of just put all the Halo 1 maps in part two so people could finally play them online but nope, they know what the fans want so we get garbage maps even though the fans were crying out for the Halo 1 maps. I know that Halo 2 was the most popular Xbox Live game for a long time but I have no idea why bland broken online and you had way better options out there.

So now we have Halo 3 the next gen Halo on the new shiny 360! The first thing that grabbed me on Halo 3 were the graphics. I know that graphics do not make the game but this game looked bad it looked like an Xbox 1 game. Halo 3 should of been the best looking game on that system blowing away everything out there but nope it wasn't even in true HD, it ran at something like 640p. This was suppose to be the end of the grand Halo trilogy and it did a decent job of wrapping up the story and out of the three games it did have the best story and it's really the best Halo game but that's not saying much. It added the ability to use items which you can pick up and it was the big new feature, the new feature back in the 90's with games like Hexen again something not new being lauded as the new hotness in FPS games. I can't rag on Halo 3 to much because I played through the game 5 times and it's the first Halo game I finished and this game on Legendary is actually really fun. Now the multiplayer, argh. Again it's a game full of crap maps that just weren't that much fun. It had reimagining of some Halo 1 and 2 maps but I didn't want to see reimagined Halo maps I wanted the original maps not this crap. But Halo's online overall just has an unbalanced feel to it. I can't even count high enough to keep track of the number of times I was one shotted by someone after I've unloaded a whole magazine into them and they didn't die. I'm not the only one who I know whom had this issue but it's been the defining Halo online thing for me. When ever it happens in another game I always describe it being like Halo online. It's just a bad online experience I know it's popular but I think Halo is the online game for people who aren't really good at FPS and if you try to play the game like a FPS that needs precision to play you will fail.

Halo ODST the 60 dollar expansion pack. Campaign was intersting, the fact it took a more stealthy approach was interesting and going back to a health bar made the game more of a challenge but in the end it was another crap Halo story with a to short overpriced campaign. Firefight which was a mode that teamed you up with 3 other people and put you against waves of Covenant much like Horde mode from Gears of War 2 could of been awesome but it lacked online matchmaking. Why make an online mode without matchmaking? It's a poor choice and I spent maybe 30 minutes playing it but with matchmaking I would of spent a lot more time playing that mode. I had some fun with ODST but it should of been a 20-30 dollar downloadable title, maybe in one of those summer of arcade thing they have on Xbox Live.

Now we have Halo Reach the last Halo game Bungie will be making. It's Halo with Jetpacks and for that I have one word... Tribes.

Overall I feel Halo is overrated and personally I don't think it's a very good series. I give Bungie their props for coming up with a decent console FPS control scheme but that's about the only revolution to the genre they've done. Lots of people love Halo but I don't get it you have way better games out there to play but to each their own.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Time for something a little off topic...

I was involved with the making of an animated video recently. It's not game related but I think people should check it out. The video can be found bellow. Leave some feedback and let me know what you think.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Mushihimesama: Bug Panic

So another Cave game has been announced for the idevices! This time it looks to be Mushihimesama: Bug Panic. Now I'm not sure if this is Mushihimesama Futari or some new game but I'm hoping it's Futari. This is a game I have long wanted to play and on the iphone it would be amazing like Espgaluda 2 and DoDonPachi: Resurrection before it. It was announced a few moments ago on Cave's US twitter with a link to a reveal video which you can find below.

So a little research came up with this. Apparently this is the game they just announced. I don't know what to think about this one but time will tell.

This is the game I thought we'd be getting...


Today is the 15th anniversary of the Playstation 1. It is also the 11 birthday of the Dreamcast.

The Dreamcast was Sega's last home console and it was one of the best. A special part of gaming died when the Dreamcast died. I don't think we'll ever see a console as special as the Dreamcast and that's sad.

I wrote an article about what I consider the greatest Dreamcast game, Phantasy Star Online a few weeks back so check that out.

I was so psyched for the Dreamcast I bought the Japanese console as soon as it was released and I imported a ton of games. I have most of my Dreamcast fighters for my Japanese system but any version is great. I don't really hold on to my old consoles due to lack of space but I have my Dreamcast and I'll have it forever.

I tip my hat to you Dreamcast! You're sorely missed!

Within a Deep Forrest

Last night I finished Within A Deep Forrest. This is a platformer made by Nicklas Nygren otherwise known as Nifflas. The game came out a few years ago but I hadn't played it until recently and it was a very good game.

You play as a ball the result of a mad doctor's plan to make a world freezing bomb and it's up to you to stop it.

The game which I've heard referred to as an "ambient platformer." The music is very mellow and the world feels alive. For a game with simple yet very good looking graphics the world you're in is as much a part of the story as the story is.

As the ball you bounce around the world solving very simple puzzles and collecting new powers. You get new materials which make your ball bounce higher or turn you into iron to help you sink into the ground when needed and even a fragile glass ball that has a whole level devoted to it's use and is really a pain in the ass to use.

The one thing about this game is for most of the it the game is just really mellow and it's a very relaxing experience until you get close to the end. As you get to the end the game get's crazy hard and I mean CRAZY hard. I played the game on hard which changes the ball handling somewhat and adds some new hazards such as fireballs and various things like that.

This is just a short few words on Within a Deep Forrest, it's a game I slept on big time as I'm fairly new to the whole "indie" scene so I hadn't heard about it until recently. If you're doing the same you should play it, it's fantastic. Right now I'm getting ready to play Knytt which is the game Nifflas put out after Within a Deep Forrest and you should play that too.

Links to Nifflas info and games!


This is Nifflas' site. You can download his games here.



Another game shown at PAX was Bastion. It's an isometric hack and slash action RPG. The game has a very interesting mechanic, as you play the game the game is narrated. Yeah at first I thought it sounded annoying but after watching the videos of it in action I must admit it looks or should I say it sounds really cool.

I think the voice is Ron Pearlman actor and the voice of Fallout but I'm not sure. It is NOT Ron Pearlman. It is a friend of one of the sound guys working on the game. His name is Logan.

The game is scheduled to come out next year for the 360 and PS3 and maybe PC but I don't know 100 percent on that one.

Here's a video! Enjoy!

Duke Nukem Forever

So after weeks of rumors and whispering about Gearbox finishing Duke Nukem Forever we have the truth! Duke Nukem Forever is coming in 2011 from Gearbox. They had a playable game demo at PAX last weekend.

I watched some of the streams of the gameplay out there and it looks really really nice. The overall opinion from what I've read is that the game plays well and it's a lot of fun while keeping the overall feel of what we know about the Duke Nukem character.

The demo opened up with the last level from Duke Nukem 3D with Duke killing the final boss of that level as a tutorial of sorts. Then it pans out to Duke playing the game and getting oral pleasure from twins. Way to go Duke! That may be crass for some but it's classic Duke and I'm glad to see the game will have that kind of humor in it because it fits with the character we know.

The one thing I didn't really read and I'm extremely interested in knowing is how much of the game is what 3D Realms had done and what tweaks and fixes Gearbox have added. I can't imaging that Gearbox has made any super major changes because I don't think they've had the game for more than a year. It's probably better for them to keep it unknown which studios did exactly what just for the sake of getting this game out so we can finally play it.

Will it be good, who knows? Some people are going to be disappointed no matter what because this game is infamous for the development cycle and it's just a thing some people will hate no matter what. I still have high hopes for Duke and I don't think Gearbox is going to put out a bad game so I'm extremely hopeful the game will be good. What Gearbox needs to make sure is that they get the game done next year, we can't have another 12 years of waiting.

Either way Duke's back! Hail to the King Baby!


Fifteen years ago today the first Playstation was unleashed on the world. Sony releasing a console was considered a big risk at the time because in the past new upstart game consoles usually failed in a few months to a year never to be heard of again. After being unable to work with Nintendo to make a CD add on for the Super Nintendo Sony decided to blaze a trail on their own to make what would become one of the biggest console and video game brand name in history.

There isn't a whole lot more that can be said about the Playstation that hasn't been said in the past. It was responsible for many people who had never touched a game console in the past to pick up a PS1 and get into it, not unlike what the Wii has been doing in the last few years but the PS1 had a positive influence on gaming in general. Not to rag on the Wii but the whole release of the PS1 was similar to the release of the Wii.

I remember when I got my PS1 with a copy of Tekken and I was blown away. I couldn't believe how close to the arcade version of Tekken the PS1 version was and I was air juggling fools in no time. I use to be a huge fighting game player and suddenly having access to the more advances 3D fighters at home was freaking crazy. Eventually I picked up the first Toshiden which was interesting but in the end it wasn't that great of a fighter but it did look nice.

With tons of titles coming out at a very fast pace I've sure there were a bunch of games I never played but I tried my best to play as many as I could. I'm not sure if many people remember a game called Loaded. It was a top down two player Gauntlet clone. It was over the top violent with very dark and gritty levels and you and a second player smoking dudes and splattering their guts all over the floors as you run to the exit. It was a lot of fun to play and totally reminded me of Gauntlet which was what drew me to it in the first place.

The Playstation also saw the start of two of gamings biggest franchises, Resident Evil and Metal Gear Solid. I was completely blown away the first time I played Resident Evil. I had never played the original Alone in the Dark so the whole survival horror genre was new to me. Playing the game at 2 in the morning walking through the hallways and having that dog jumping through the window scared the living hell out of me. Fantastic game and an amazing experience.

Metal Gear Solid was a landmark in story telling in games. Some people complain about the cut scenes in the MGS series but to me it was a fantastic way to get the story out there. The presentation was very well done especially the voice acting, it was top notch.

I should mention Kings Field, made by From Software who also made Demon's Souls. This was a first person RPG that came out close to the release of the PS1. I was mesmerized by the world and the overall feel of the game it was so cool to play a RPG where you actually went into building and houses. The people look at you as they talk to you and the immersion is there and for the time is was great.

Jumping Flash! First person shooter where you're a giant robot Rabbit shooting at bad guys it was crazy and a lot of fun.

I'm sure I've skipped some games and I know I skipped one big PS1 release but I don't want to mention that one just because I don't have anything to say about it.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Xbox Live 60 dollars!

Microsoft came out today and announced that starting November 1st Xbox Live would now cost 60 dollars for the full year subscription. 3 months will cost 25 dollars and one month will now be 10. I understand that as inflation and the general cost of doing business goes up the price we pay for Live would need to go up but in this case I believe it's kind of crap that MS is raising the price.

When the live service debuted back in 2002 it was like dropping an atom bomb on the console gaming community. It was a way for the first time for console gamers to meet up online and play with each other and it took off.

As the years went on Xbox Live set the standard for console online games, when Sony would launch the PSN with the PS3 it even followed in Live's footsteps.

When the 360 launched Live was upgraded to match the 360 with a new dashboard and new features that the new hardware allowed the service to use. But this is when the problems started.

With every new dashboard update it became more laggy. It became a sluggish mess and just trying to get to your games and videos became a test in patience.

Facebook, twitter, Netflix, all the other add on crap they've added to the dashboard is doing nothing besides bogging it down and making it run like garbage. The streaming ads they don't help either. All this crap all these unneeded features that could be avoided if MS would allow a web browser to run on the 360 and then you wouldn't need all these apps you could just use the browser to tweet and facebook.

On the first Xbox I remember Live being down maybe 3 times over the years and it may of all been maintenance. After the 360 came out Live was down all the time and I'm sure we all remember the December it was down for almost 3 weeks because of what MS claimed were to many new users. They knew how their machines were selling around the holidays that year they should of been ready. Lately it's been nothing but service outages and lame excuses from MS. Then they go and raise the price of their broken service.

It's come to my attention lately the Xbox Live Enforcement service is a busted mess of contradictions and nonsense. Hope you never get falsely banned from the service as you're boned and you will probably not get back on. It's like this, if someone and I mean anyone calls Xbox Live and says that the gamer tag you own and use has been stolen the enforcement department lock the gamertag for 10 days to investigate the claim. You can call with all your personal info stuff only you and Xbox Live would know and you're still locked out. It's crap and I've heard they've revised it somewhat but it's still not perfect.

In the end I think MS needs to fix the issues with Live before they go raising the price. How about a cheaper price for people that just want their machine to play games and go ahead and charge extra for the people that need it to be their one stop shop for all things online.