Saturday, 21 December 2013

PC Game Review: MURI

Platform: PC (Steam)
Released: 2013
Genre: Platformer
Developer: Remar Games
Publisher: Ludosity
Buy on Steam

Unlike most gamers who grew up with consoles such as the NES, Mega Drive/Genesis and Super Nintendo, I really grew up as a PC gamer and DOS EGA games was my bread and butter for a long time, especially since my dad had a ton of shareware games on his PC when I grew up. My favourite of these was without a doubt Duke Nukem, a platformer from Apogee, which we nowadays know as 3D Realms. It was honestly the first game I remember playing and since then I've been playing these kind of oldschool platformers at least once every week and I always have fun with them because of not only nostalgia but because there is such a unique feel about them that you didn't find in console games at the time. Just look at something like Commander Keen and compare it to Super Mario Bros., there is a huge notable difference in how it controls, looks and sounds.

MURI is a game made in the style of these early EGA platformers, especially the ones from Apogee such as the aforementioned Duke Nukem though it also borrows slightly from games like Metroid, especially with how alien everything looks and the fact you play some kind of female space hunter. I picked it up the moment I saw the trailer which I absolutely loved since it had a wonderful sense of humor about it and made the game seem very authentic. And that's the keyword here, authenticity.

You see, this game is made with an almost painstaking attention to looking, sounding AND feeling like an actual DOS EGA game and you can see this from the fact all the graphics are using the classic EGA 16 colour palette and are even made in the 320x200 resolution that was commonly used back in the early 90's. Not only that but the animation is made using 16 frames per second which may sound like very little and that's because most games back in the day didn't really have smooth animation and it was one of the idiosyncrasies of DOS games. You CAN choose 32 frames per second IF you are not comfortable with this but I think that ruins the authentic feel of the game completely so I would avoid it if you want this game to remain true to its influences. I also like that there is a slight Lovecraftian feel to the final episode and the enemies in it which gives this game a rather unique vibe to it that I like.

The same can be said about the sound which consists entirely of PC speaker effects. Although they aren't actually PC speaker sounds, they are definitely made to sound as authentic as possible. The game does get very silent a lot of the time though and I really wish it had more sounds to it, such as a simple jumping sound or walking sound which I think would make it feel a lot more like an old DOS game. There's also barely any music in this game aside from the title screen so that would certainly be welcome. I wish this game had a full AdLib soundtrack like Duke Nukem 2 but... you might as well put on some early 90's rock for authenticity's sake. I personally put on the Afterburner album by ZZ Top from 1988.

The controls are also really similar to a lot of early DOS platformers, especially with how you use the Ctrl and Alt keys to shoot and jump respectively although you are free to also use Z and X which I recommend if you play on Windows 8 since Ctrl + Alt does some weird shit there. for some reason.  The jumping is also a little bit weird at first since the longer you hold the button the higher you jump and if you let go you instantly fall back down so it feels like you have not much real gravity to the jumping though you'll get used to this very quickly. The gameplay should feel fairly familiar to you if you've played any Apogee platformers and revolves mostly around destroying forcefield generators to progress through the level and reach the exit and it's about as simple as it can get, although one interesting factor is that the game keeps track of how many items and enemies are left on the level and if you get everything, you get a 100% bonus and the game even tells you when you've gotten 100% completion which to me is a great addition since it keeps my OCD at peace.

So yeah, not much else to say. If you have 4€ to spare and is looking for an authentic retro EGA platformer, then you can't go wrong with MURI. Aside from a few flaws about the game such as wishing it had a little more sound effects, there's not much wrong about it and I really have to commend the makers for making an authentic EGA platformer which you don't see that much of these days.

Final Score: 9/10

- Alyxx

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Top 10 Games Of 2013

It's that time of the year again. The year is coming to an end and we have behind us a pretty eventful year in gaming. Not only are the next gen consoles coming out, further pushing the boundaries of graphical power and integrating new ways of playing games, but we are also seeing games on PC becoming more and more demanding and also, for some reason, a lot of oldschool games have come out this year, so undoubtedly this list is gonna have a lot of "oldschool" titles on it. So get ready for my top 10 games of 2013!

If you could somehow throw the entire 80's pop culture into a blender, Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon is most likely what you'd end up getting. Being basically a standalone hack of Far Cry 3, but largely influenced by 80's action and sci-fi movies, Blood Dragon is a hell of a retro-futuristic first person shooter ride that keeps all the elements of Far Cry 3 intact, such as the exploration, looting and missions, but adds its own style to it and even improves on it in some aspects, such as removing the skilltrees and streamlining how you level up, and removing fall damage (one of my favourite aspects about it). It's only a shame the game is so short and doesn't have multiplayer as I would've loved a co-op option. Otherwise this is a must-have title for any self-respecting fan of 80's movies like RoboCop, Aliens, Terminator, Navy Seals and such.

PC/PS3/360 - 2K Games

While I have yet to play through Bioshock 1 and 2, I did play through Bioshock Infinite and you can read my full review of it here. While the gameplay felt a bit stale and not that satisfying, I did really enjoy the story in Bioshock Infinite and the graphics are at times jawdrop-inducing and I couldn't help but just stare at the game in awe at times. Definitely one of the more beautiful games to come out this year though it places pretty low on my list due to it not really being a game I plan on revisiting any time soon, but it's a fun ride while it lasts.

PC/PS3/360 - Eidos/Square Enix

To be honest I did not have the highest expectations for this reboot. Considering the franchise has been rebooted twice already (with Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness and Tomb Raider: Legends respectively) and even already remade with Tomb Raider: Anniversary, I was fairly certain that the new Tomb Raider would have to evolve the franchise and take it in a new direction in order to stay fresh. Thankfully, it did. The new Tomb Raider is a whole different story from the earlier games, no longer portraying Lara Croft as a larger-than-life image of feminine perfection, but rather as an innocent woman turned into a survivor, much like Far Cry 3, except I felt the story here was even more compelling. The emotional bond you build with Lara in this game makes it a lot more relatable than earlier games and is most likely going to please modern audiences a lot more. And the attention to detail is stunning, with how early in the game Lara expresses regret with a lot of her actions but slowly become more and more cold blooded and you even hear the enemies talk about her as she kills more and more of them. The story is still pretty fantastic too, with plenty of supernatural elements and not the most realistic game in the world, but for what it is, it's both an emotional and fun journey to take and I highly recommend it to both old fans of Tomb Raider who are looking for a new experience with the famous video game heroine, or people who have never played Tomb Raider before as this is a really good starting point. I truly hope they make this into a new franchise and begin work on a sequel because I really have high hopes for Lara now, this was a truly great experience and one I will remember. You can check out my full review of Tomb Raider here.

PC - Harebrained Schemes

I've recently gotten into Shadowrun the tabletop game as a way of getting into DND in a more interesting way and the setting is truly the thing that sold me on this game. The cyberpunk style is definitely very at home with me and when I heard a new PC game was coming out based on Shadowrun, I decided to try it out. Thankfully they did not repeat the mistake of making a Counter Strike influenced FPS, but rather a turnbased RPG in the vein of the classic Fallout games, and it fits the style a lot better. I personally love this game, I love the gameplay, the atmosphere and while the lack of voice acting can be a bit jarring for a lot of modern gamers, to me it reminds me a lot of the older days of RPG's where you'd make your own voices in your head playing the game. A pretty good RPG with a lot of potential for making your own modules and adventures for it, which is always fun.

PS Vita - Sony Computer Entertainment

While my initial reason to get a PS Vita was the announced release of Borderlands 2 for the system, I was quite impressed with Killzone Mercenary, which in many ways has become the first true killer app for the handheld. The game is a rock solid first person shooter in the vein of Call of Duty and Battlefield, but with its own setting and style and it feels extremely arcady and fun to play as the sole point of the game is to gather as much money as possible from kills and missions in order to buy new gear and become the top dog of the mercs. I play it mostly for the single player and because I think it's a pretty fun shooter to play on the go, though the multiplayer is a lot of fun too if you have a decent Wi-Fi connection available. Extremely impressive graphics for a handheld and really good controls makes this a pretty good purchase for your Vita though the story isn't all that great, but then again, this isn't a game you'd play for the story.

PC - Devolver Digital

Shadow Warrior is one of those games from the 90's that kinda fell under the shadow (no pun intended) of its more famous cousins Quake and Duke Nukem 3D, but it was still a pretty big cult classic among oldschool shooter fans. Now the creators of Hard Reset (one of my favourite PC exclusive FPS's) have made a PC exclusive remake of this 90's cult classic FPS and while it retains a lot of the gameplay aspects from the original such as the swordplay, akimbo guns and settings, it expands on everything and pretty much makes everything a more enjoyable and deep experience. The story isn't all that great and the characters tend to be more on the forgetable side, though I found the new Lo Wang really grew on me as I played the game as he felt very down to earth and relatable and I kinda liked that, even when he gets all kinds of crazy powers I felt I could still relate to this guy and he could be someone I could possible hang out with and party with some day. The graphics are amazing and really show off the power of what a true PC exclusive game can do these days and the music is also really good with plenty of nods to the original game. Gameplay wise it feels like a mix between the original Shadow Warrior and Hard Reset since it retains similar skilltree options and weapon upgrades. I also really like the swordplay mechanics and a lot of the game is tailored to being a first person slasher rather than shooter, though the devs have intentionally left the game open to several playstyles which I applaud. A must-have if you're into oldschool shooters as the game is chock full of easter eggs and secrets, more than any modern game I've played.

PC - PuppyGames
Some games you just install and never ever uninstall again because they are so addictive you keep coming back to them, even if you don't really play them for any lengthy periods of time. Ultratron is one of those games for me as it has that arcady quality that it's fun in small bursts and leaves me pretty satisfied in the end. The game is pretty much a modernized version of Robotron 2084 or Smash TV and is built around the same concept of eradicating all enemies on screen as quickly and efficiently as possible. The graphics are extremely charming and have a wonderful retro look to them that still feels quite modern at the same time, and the music and sound effects all fit the same retro style perfectly. It's a bit short on story but it's solid 2D shoot-em-up fun! If you're going to pick up a small but enjoyable game on Steam these days I'd say Ultratron is a must-have.

PC/PS3/360 - Capcom

While I've never really been into the Devil May Cry games, mostly because nearly all of them have been PlayStation exclusive so far and not really my thing, DmC did catch my attention because it seemed a lot darker and grittier than the other games so far and the new Dante appeals to me more because he has that irresistable bad boy charm about him that just makes fangirls like me go wild. I also really loved the hellish style of the game and felt really drawn towards it. Another reason is the soundtrack, which is done by none other than Noisia and the Norwegian group Combichrist, both giving the game a unique atmosphere that I absolutely love. The story is also really good and I really felt this game drew me into the story more than the older games ever did, and I especially love the plot about demons corrupting Earth using soft drinks and propaganda to subversively influence the population. Definitely one of my favourite games this year, even though I still have yet to finish it. While the game may piss off fans of the older games, to me this is definitely the best and most attractive game in the franchise.

PC/PS3/360/PS4/XBox One/Wii U - Activision

It should probably not come as a big surprise to my followers that I'm a pretty huge Call of Duty fan. I loved Modern Warfare 3, loved Black Ops II and Ghosts is no exception. While I still have to write a full review of this game, so far I absolutely love it. The campaign features a lot of epic setpieces, such as putting you in space and has some pretty tense underwater segments too. And it has to be said that Riley the Dog is one of the additions to this game that is the true star of the game. His lifelike animation and behavior really made him feel alive and like a true companion. Multiplayer wise they do a lot of things I've wanted for a long time, such as finally being able to customize how I appear in the game and even choose my gender (finally!), which to me is a pretty major addition to the franchise. While I initially didn't find it as enjoyable as Black Ops II the game is growing on me more and more and I truly enjoy the new maps, the graphics and the co-op mode as well feels really satisfying to play as I have a thing for aliens (never got into the zombies as much). Keep in mind though that a lot of people have reported problems with the PC version so the game seems pretty particular about the hardware you run it on, so make sure to check the requirements and making sure your PC meets them, though the game runs just fine on my rig. While it won't really impress anyone on a purely graphics level, gameplay wise this is the true nextgen Call of Duty we've been waiting for.

PC/360/PS3 - Deep Silver

To be honest, up until this game I had never really felt much interest in the Saints Row games as GTA had really put me off on the whole urban sandbox style of games. However, when I played Saints Row IV I realized it was a whole different thing than anything I had played before in that genre. Mixing in a ton of references to stuff like Matrix, They Live and even adding superpowers to the mix, this game also really tickled all my gaming fetishes, such as character customization (complete with a sex appeal slider which should be mandatory in all games with character customization in my opinion...  ;) ), akimbo pistols AND SMGs, as well as the whole open world style of gameplay that I've come to really enjoy, this game just satisfies everything I love about games and it REFUSES to take itself seriously for a second. I love the humor, I love the over-the-top action and all in all this has to be my favourite game for 2013 and one i plan on playing way into 2014 and beyond! It even convinced me to get Saints Row the Third which I'm currently playing through and I really feel I've missed out on a lot with these games as they are a lot more enjoyable than GTA to me. If you're like me and love games with humor, character customization, co-op and akimbo guns, then get Saints Row IV and Saints Row the Third as both games compliment each other perfectly. You can read more in my review of the game here.


PC/PS3/360/Wii U - Sega

As much as I personally love this game for its level design, characters, sound, music and graphics, I can definitely agree that on launch this game was an outright disaster and while the worst AI bugs and problems have since been patched, the launch of this game still left quite a sour taste in a lot of gamers' mouths and mine too for a while. However I still largely enjoy the game and still play it a lot with friends. I definitely don't think it's as bad as people say it is, especially with recent patches, but yeah, it's obvious why this didn't make my list. But I feel it deserves a mention as I personally enjoy it a lot. You can read my full review of the game here.

PC/PS3/360 - CI Games

Phew, lots of Alien games coming out this year. Either way, the reasons I didn't list this game are several and I am still planning on writing a full review on it at some point. The game is f*cking hard and it is hard for me to recommend this to any casual gamers out there as it's more for hardcore gamers who want a true challenge. The game will kick your ass pretty hard and that's one of the reasons I love it. It forces you to think about how you play the game and you can't just stroll through it and it doesn't hold your hand like a lot of modern shooters tend to do. Though this is also one of the game's main selling points. The graphics are really good though and I definitely enjoy the oldschool arcade feel of the game. But yeah, like I said, it is hard as F*CK so be warned.

So yeah, that's it for this year's top 10 games. Hope to see you again next year, hopefully with a fresh new list!

- Alyxx

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

My rant on the Internet and people in general


While more reviews are coming up (Deus Ex: Human Revolution - Director's Cut and Call of Duty: Ghosts are definitely on my to-do list), for now I just wanna share a little article on how I feel about people on the internet in general.

Lately a lot of things have annoyed me more than usual and what I've seen just can't be ignored and I just need to vent a bit. People on the internet are so immature! I mean lately YouTube changed their commenting system to use Google+ and instead of looking at this from a constructive perspective and how it improves the commenting system by allowing longer comments and making it easier to share your opinions and also moderating comments, people IMMEDIATELY assume an enormously negative opinion towards the new system and their solution is to SPAM comment sections with nonsense because they think it will change something. It's like watching a child throw a tantrum because the parents rearranges the living room. Grow the FUCK UP! I am aware there are problems with it, I am aware not everyone wants to use Google+ but why? Google+ is free, it's not like they force you to pay any money for it (in which case I would completely understand your reaction) so why this incredible hate towards Google+? Instead of spamming videos for people who doesn't deserve this you should send feedback to Google and be mature about how you go about voicing your opinion. You're acting like spoiled brats and no offense, I find it fucking disgusting...

Is it really so hard to be constructive and tell Google "okay, I see what you're trying to do, and here's how you can improve it"? Instead we're going "NOOOO, GOOGLE SUCKS, THE NEW SYSTEM SUCKS, WE'RE GONNA GO SPAM THE COMMENT SECTIONS NOW CAUSE THAT IS GONNA WORK!!!" No it's not, ALL it fucking does is show how immature you guys are and seriously, encouraging people to be trolls and spammers is to me just pathetic.

On another but related note, lately I was playing Call of Duty Ghosts and ran into a pretty severe bug that kept me from unlocking my first soldier in multiplayer so I was effectively locked out of it until I could work around the bug. Of course I was looking for help about it and it was near damn impossible to find actual help because EVERYWHERE I see people being so fucking whiny about the game. Seriously? The FOV gives you motion sickness? No offense but if that is the case you're a fucking pussy. And you complain about the graphics? Why?! The gameplay is always what matters and just because the game isn't in 1080p this is somehow a reason to go apeshit over it. While I do understand these issues can be annoyances, I don't understand why people waste their time going on the internet and act like fucking whiny brats about it instead of looking at the positive aspects about the game and what makes it worth playing. Instead they go around blaming the game and the creators because they aren't used to the maps and strategies of other people, saying the game is broken and hacked. Yes, I do know there are actual hackers but just because you suck gives you no reason to blame the game for it, you fucking asshole.

So yeah, those are my two cents and just a little rant that I needed. I respect people's opinions as long as they don't shove it down my throat.

Alyxx out

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Why I Don't Like Horror Games

Hello, sexy people

Alyxx here again with yet another kind of blog'y post about a subject I just wanna talk about and analyze a bit. Don't worry, more game reviews are coming but for now I just wanna talk a little about a subject that I find interesting cause that's how I roll.
Anyway, with Halloween coming up I see a lot of people playing and reviewing horror games and it kind of reminds me that I really don't like horror games. At all. Why? Well, that's what I plan to write about. Now keep in mind I haven't played that many horror games for, well, the sole reason I don't really like horror games. They are not my cup of tea and never will be. What I have played though I will talk about here and bring up the reasons these games are, well, bad to me.

For me, horror relies on two distinct things. Immersion and subtlety. Immersion is needed because you need to feel threatened, you need to feel like something is actually at stake and something gets under your skin. Now, the problem with the horror games I've played recently, specifically Amnesia, which touts itself as a very highly immersive experience, is that it isn't immersive at all. Same with for instance Slender which also isn't that immersive. While you could argue that the first person perspective of these games are what makes them immersive, they do have some things that actually really broke and ruined the immersion for me. With Amnesia for instance, the character's personality was actually too strong and most of the time, HE reacted to the stuff happening around him, and it didn't feel like it was me doing it. It didn't feel genuine or natural and felt very forced and it was at that point I pretty much put down the game, uninstalled it and never touched it again because at that point any immersion I had was gone entirely and the game was ruined for me. I'll probably never be able to play the game because it constantly bothered and annoyed the crap out of me. To me it was kind of like being raped. Some people might find this scary and frightening, but I just wanna punch the guy in the balls so he cannot procreate. I had the same reaction to Amnesia pretty much. The whole thing about him going insane felt forced, the whole thing about having to constantly gather lamp oil and tinder felt forced, the clunky controls for even something as basic as opening a door felt forced. Everything felt very manipulative and not very immersive at all. All these things are supposed to add to the immersion but to me, it had the opposite effect.

While these freaks are creepy-looking, there's nothing subtle about them or genuinely creepy about them. Amnesia and a lot of modern horror games rely way too much on a very shallow form of horror in my opinion.
In the case of Slender I know the game is free, I know it is just a tech demo but for fuck's sake... there's NO in-game story, there's no explanation who this guy is, why you are gathering pages and just who you are or where you are. The game expects you to know all this beforehand and to me that really ruins the experience as well. Not to mention the game was full of nonsensical buildings and models that in no way felt like real life and hell, there were missing textures at one point so immersion clearly was thrown out the window there.

I honestly find something like DooM more immersive than these games because in DooM, you are in total 100% control of your character the entire time. He doesn't speak, doesn't do anything unless it's you doing it and that way, you feel more scared when you see flashing lights or hear noises because it feels like you are in the game and it is you doing these things. The Black Mesa mod that released recently was actually one of the scariest experiences I've had lately because you don't get any powerful weapons in the very beginning of the game and I actually felt really immersed and genuinely creeped out by the headcrab zombies (which by the way are a LOT scarier in Black Mesa than in Half-Life 2).

I dunno about you but any game with the line "you were almost a Jill sandwich" I just can't find scary...
That is also the problem with for instance the Resident Evil games which has been hailed as the inventor of survival  horror. But to be honest, the cheesy dialogue, horrible camera angles, the fact the game isn't even first person and you spend most of it shooting zombies with a goddamn shotgun makes me feel like I'm watching an interactive b-movie instead of going through a haunted house and to me, the Resident Evil games, especially the early ones can more be classified as action/adventure games with horror elements.

And like I mentioned, subtlety is the other important thing about horror. Horror ALWAYS works best when it is unexpected and catches you off guard, and especially if it's lurking in the atmosphere of a game and isn't in broad daylight. That is also my main problem with games like Amnesia, Slender or Resident Evil, they are about as subtle as a slab of meat to the face. To be honest the scariest experiences I've had in gaming have always come from games where I didn't expect it. Like in Pokémon where there are actually ghost pokémon. At first, this might seem like a childish fun game but seriously, this implies that pokémon CAN and WILL die eventually and it is something you as a trainer have to deal with as you get attached to these creatures. Lavender Town is legendary for its creepy atmosphere (mostly due to the music) and because it has a Pokémon cemetary. Again, just bringing something as dark and real as death into a fun game like Pokémon is legitimately creepy and gets under your skin in a way no horror games have to me.

Or take the Mother games for instance. At first they seem like silly nonsensical childish games but once you dig under the surface you find a lot of seriously disturbing stuff that really gets under your skin and a big reason the games have such a cult following. The games are really emotional and know how to get to you in a way few games have and to me, the tragedy of these games is what really makes me love them, and also feel kind of disturbed.

Giygas has scared Mother fans since long before Resident Evil or any horror game. Mostly because you have no clue what the flying fuck you're seeing so it conjures up all kinds of horrific images in your mind. It's deep emotional psychological terror that nothing can come close to in my opinion.
Recently I played through Alien Colonial Marines with some friends. Now, take into consideration the AI in this game is broken as f*ck and it's really unpredictable and you can die EASILY even on easy difficulty because of how much it cheats so I was already ready to die a lot. Then you get to a part where you have NO GUNS, giving you no choice but to sneak your way through an alien infested area and my friends that I played with left me behind and I was genuinely scared because they had alerted the aliens, they were coming for me and my friends blocked me away and I felt not only immersed because I felt in total control of my character, but I also felt scared because I had no way of defending myself. It was easily my favourite moment from the game and a big reason I actually kinda like it despite its flaws.

So all in all, I do get scared, I am not some kind of machine that doesn't get scared but to me, games like Amnesia, Slender or Resident Evil just don't work because you go into them knowing exactly what you're gonna get, and to me that just isn't scary. And for me, the horror always comes when it's subtle, when I'm connected to the game, and don't expect it.

Have a happy Halloween!

- Alyxx

Monday, 23 September 2013

PC Game Review: Saints Row IV

Platform: PC (Steam)
Released: 2013
Genre: Third Person Shooter
Developer: Deep Silver Volition
Publisher: Deep Silver
Buy on Steam

While a lot of people nowadays are talking about, and no doubt playing the new Grand Theft Auto game, I am simply unable to due to two major reasons. One, I don't own a PS3 or XBox 360. Two, I am not exactly any GTA fan so my interest in the game isn't all that high. But still, on PC we have a different sandbox game that has recently hit the streets, and it's called Saints Row IV, the anticipated sequel to Saints Row The Third. Before I start my review I will have to point out that this is entirely from the perspective of someone who has never played any of the earlier Saints Row games so don't expect me to be able to compare this to the earlier games as I simply haven't played them (yet). But is the game any good, you may ask? Read on to find out.

The game differs from the previous games in the franchise in one major way. Instead of being in the real world, the game takes place almost entirely inside a simulated reality. Earth is invaded and eventually destroyed by an alien race called the Zin, lead by a megalomaniac and cultural snob named Zinyak. Zinyak is by far one of the most enjoyable villains I've seen in a video game and is definitely up there with Handsome Jack in how well written he is. Zinyak isn't just evil, he loves being evil and revels in it every single day and you can tell he enjoys what he's doing. So of course, you being the president of the United States, he has a special plan for you. Instead of killing you or your friends, he puts all of you in a simulated Matrix reality where you are forced to live out your worst fears for all eternity and this is pretty much how the game is set up. You have to break free from the simulation, take control of it, and free your friends so you can take on Zinyak and get back at him for destroying Earth and enslaving humanity. It's a silly concept that straight up parodies The Matrix, and it is glorious.

The simulated reality is pretty much the open world city you'd expect and there are tons of little details here and there to point out you're in a simulation. Things glitch out now and then, and there are signs all over the place that parodies They Live (maybe pointing out the fact you are special and can see the simulation for what it really is). One of the cool things about this game is all the means you have of travelling. In addition to straight up walking, you also have a huge amount of cars to steal and with a single button press, you can scan these cars and add them to your own personal collection and with your phone you can easily summon any car you have scanned to you at any given time. You earn money (cache) by doing activities and there are a ton of them to do here, all of them being a lot of fun to do and the amount of challenges is gonna keep you occupied for quite a while.

And of course, you also get superpowers as you progress through the game, giving you the ability to run really fast and jump really high, in addition to more offensive powers like blasting and stomping. These powers are increasingly upgraded, making you insanely overpowered near the end of the game and it feels awesome to just go around like some kind of demigod, wreaking havoc on everything. Of course, a lot of people have said that when you get these powers, the vehicles you can collect end up feeling kind of useless and superfluous, but in my opinion, they are there to add variety to the gameplay and give you more options to how you want to travel. Constantly using superpowers can get boring and so if you wanna race around in a car, you can do that instead. The game simply offers different things to do and in my opinion, that just adds to the fun of it. I know that driving a car isn't as awesome as flying but hell, if you want to, it's there, you can do it.

The customization is definitely one of the reasons I love SR4. You get a ton of character customization options and honestly one of the most fun character creators I've played around with. It does lack some options for fine tuning but all in all it is on par with the one from Mass Effect and I would say in some ways even surpasses it. Shopping in this game is a ton of fun and there are about 3 different shop brands, each offering different catalogues so finding them all is a lot of fun. Nearly everything can be customized or repainted, including guns and customizing the vehicles you scan can nearly be a timeconsuming hobby in of itself. And good god there are a lot of crazy guns in this game. From a fucking huge dildo to a dubstep gun (an actual gun that shoots waves of wubwub), the arsenal is just as crazy, overpowered and whacked out as the game itself and it fits the game perfectly. I've never had more fun playing around with weapons in a game than this.

The game features a lot of licensed music and you get a huge variety of styles with each radio station offering a unique set of songs. Even better is that you can listen to the radio outside vehicles and switch between them at any given moment. You can even make your own mixtape from selected songs from each station though what I really think this game lacks is the option to use your own songs from your hard drive, like GTA did where you could put music files in a folder and have the game treating them like its own radio station. The game does a wonderful job utilizing the licensed music during the story missions though and it's really one of the games where I've seen them really using licensed music in a good way to punctuate the action and not just being there for no reason. If flying through an alien ship listening to What Is Love doesn't make you grin like an idiot and bump your head like Jim Carrey in the legendary SNL sketch, this game is probably not for you. Hell Zinyak even has his own radio station playing classical music and Zinyak reading Shakespeare and other classical literature. It is priceless and adds so much personality to the game.

Now all of this is fun in of itself and playing alone, the game is definitely one of the most fun experiences I've had. but the game truly comes alive when playing it co-op. There are extra activities you can do and having a partner who is just as overpowered as you are is probably one of the most fun things you can do in this game. I highly recommend playing it co-op as it really makes the game feel more alive and just so you can share all this insanity with someone.
The only negative things I can think about is that while the game plays very well and is a lot of fun, it was very taxing on my hardware and even with all the settings on low, the game did have some framerate issues on 1080p so keep that in mind if you wanna invest in the PC version. I definitely recommend playing the game in 720p if you don't have a particular high end computer. I also ran into a few glitches here and there, such as menus getting stuck which forced me to restart the game and getting stuck at a few missions though usually it was as simple as restarting the mission. It was a bit annoying but nothing that really broke the game for me. Personally I would say I still had a lot of fun and really enjoyed the game. I also wish the sidequests was more than just redoing activities over and over as it did get a bit tedious no matter how fun the activities were and only the loyalty missions really did anything much story-wise.

Story: 10/10

One of the most fun stories I've had in a while with a villain you'll absolutely fall in love with.
Graphics: 9/10
Even on low settings (which I had to run the game at because of how taxing it was on my PC), the game looks really good and has a very cool style about it that a lot of games lack. Tons of small details like glitches and such are also really impressive. The only bad thing though is that the game requires a lot of hardware even on low settings and the framerate was all over the place.
Music: 9/10
Amazing use of licensed music with tons of variety, and the original soundtrack is also really good and doesn't feel out of place. Still wish there was an ability to use custom music though.
Gameplay: 8/10
Aside from a few annoying glitches and a lack of more story missions that kept it from getting a perfect score, the gameplay is crazy fun and probably the most fun I've had in a long time. It's gonna rub some people the wrong way no doubt but personally I loved it.


All in all, Saints Row IV is a hell of an experience and a game that not for a second dares to take itself too seriously. It makes fun of game clichés left and right and is one of the few games that really makes you feel free and not restrained, but overpowered as hell and it's an awesome feeling that really makes this game quite unique to me. The music, the characters, the story and not to mention the gameplay makes this a game that I consider mandatory for any gamer that loves to just have fun once in a while. Because in the end, Saints Row IV is all about fun.

- Alyxx

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Duke Nukem and Misogynism

I consider myself a woman and there is something that has been bothering me ever since the release of Duke Nukem Forever. Is Duke Nukem a misogynist? And also, could Duke Nukem Forever and Duke Nukem 3D and other Duke games be considered misogynistic in nature? A lot of people have been talking about this and so I thought, being the massive Duke Nukem fan I am, that I would throw in my two cents. I'm not trying to defend Duke here or taking any side, just look at the facts and debunk these myths a bit to see if there is actual ground to them and be as objective as I can about it, despite my obvious bias. Hell, I think at a forum someone went as far as to say I was "falling victim to the machosism of male dominance" or something but let's not get into that.

First of all, let's talk about the question whether Duke is a misogynist or not. Now, I am under the firm belief that while Duke is a hedonist and a bit of a chauvinist, I do not consider him necessarily a misogynist. A misogynist is speficially someone who has a disrespect and even hatred and disgust towards women, but Duke does not strike me that way. From what I've seen in his games he loves women and while the games obviously objectify women to some degree, I have never encountered any point in the games where Duke outright mistreated women. Hell, I don't remember him even using any deregatory slurs for women, the closest he ever gets is calling them "babe" but even that is more of an affectionate term.
He runs a strip club obviously but as far as I can tell from Duke Nukem Forever, none of the females there are forced to work there, all of them work there out of their own free will, often just because Duke runs the place. He enforces fair rules about no drugs allowed, they are to always use condoms to prevent STD's and unwanted pregnancy, and to always clean up if they make a mess. So I do not find that as any sufficient evidence that Duke is treating women in a misogynistic way.
True, he does slap a woman to make her stay still in multiplayer but it is not a hateful slap and more just a playful thing as he carries her through the map to keep her from obscuring his view, and it never struck me as misogynistic or hateful towards the woman. Consider it this way, there's a difference between playfully nibbling someone's ear and tearing it off with your teeth. It's just all in good fun.
Other characters however in the games ARE misogynistic. In both Duke Nukem 3D and Forever, the aliens are definitely the ones who treat women as mere objects, kidnapping them to use them as nothing more than breeding hosts for their young, and inspired by the Alien movies, the women die a horrible death upon giving birth to these creatures. We'll get more into that later.
In the DLC "The Doctor Who Cloned Me" you come to a brothel where there are some customers who try to force the women to do things against their will, and this is clearly misogynistic as well, even if it's done in a humorous fashion, and so Duke punches them to teach them a lesson, actually standing up for the women. He also outright refuses to play an arcade game called Pimp Slap, where the goal, quite blatantly, is to slap women.
At some point in the Forever campaign he even lets a woman be his boss willingly and does a mission for her, for which in return she gives him a reward. True, this is all a dream to him, but just the fact it is might even enforce the fact that Duke DOES respect and love women and it is NOT his fault that basically he's a sex symbol to women in his games because, let's face it, Duke is just as objectified as the women are, if not even more, and he's meant to be the ideal man in every way.
In the multiplayer "My Digz" level, you have women as unlockable decorations but they do have voices, they do talk to you and have at least more personality to them than just being decorations, even if they are obviously very shallow and defined by their fetishes more than anything. But to me, that's just something you have to expect in this game. And like I said, Duke never mistreats them, he oogles them sure, gives them compliments, sure, but these women are willingly doing this and are meant to be parodies so if you think too deeply about them, you're missing the point.

Now let's discuss whether the games can be considered misogynistic. As I mentioned earlier, both in Duke Nukem 3D and Forever, the aliens are the ones who act as the antagonists and use women as breeding tools. Now, a lot of people have said as a criticism that Duke does not save these women or hell, that these women are not defending themselves and merely reduced to plot points. So let's look at it this way, not only are the women already impregnated when he finds them and therefore unsalvagable because he can't just punch them in the stomach or tear the aliens out of them without hurting them seriously in the process, and therefore it is just too late to save them, the aliens have advanced technology, are superior in strength and numbers, and have giant space ships. The women are mostly civilians, none of them have ever received weapon or military training, and in fact, a lot of the guys in both games are dead because the aliens just outright kill them. So I think women aren't necessarily depicted as particurarily weak, just as weak as anyone would be in the face of an alien threat. I mean, if you're a woman who's more focused on what to wear and what makeup to put on than how you can kill someone, then OBVIOUSLY you're an easy target.
Now, there was meant to be a strong female character called Bombshell who would be a female equivalent of Duke but she was actually cut from the game. Just the fact she was even conceptualized kinda makes me think they intented the game to be playable with a female partner and to me, that's proof enough that they didn't make the game with misogynistic intent.

Let's face it, while the games are obviously a bit perverted, they are not meant to be taken seriously. The thing about Duke Nukem is that the games are meant to parody real life, not portray it. The women are basically airheads with little to no personality because that is how a lot of women are portrayed in media, and Duke Nukem Forever simply takes this to the next level and making a parody of it, mixing it with parodies of other pop culture things. It is all just meant as good fun, and if you take any of the games seriously, you're missing the point entirely. I could go on and on analyzing the games to look for clues that they are misogynistic or that Duke is but truth to be told, I would just be wasting my time. If I was in Duke's game, sure, I would love to work for him, because I know Duke would always treat me with respect, always appreciate me and give me compliments, and to me, that is how every man should be and he proves that a real man CAN be a hedonist without abusing women for it. Come on, Duke Nukem himself is a parody, an objectified image of the perfect man, and not realistic in any sense of the word. He slaps walltits and shoots three-boobed alien queens, he exists in his own universe, his own reality, his games are not portraying reality. If they were, sure, these things WOULD be out of place slightly but that's the thing, they are not. If you take these games seriously, then you are indeed missing the point and more concerned with your own agenda than simply having a good time.

Hey, at least he's not Gordon Freeman who never has the courtesy to speak to Alyx and when she loses her father all he does is stand there and coldly watch her... But that's a topic for another day.

- Alyxx

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Top 20 Favourite Games (10-1)

Link to the first 20-11 games:

So yeah, after counting down the 20-11 parts of my Favourite Games list, here is the cream of the crop, the absolute favourite games of all time for me. Are you ready? Let's hit it off!

10 Bejeweled 3

The Bejeweled games to me are like a drug to me. You don't really need them but once in a while you get a craving for them and you just have to play it. I really love Bejeweled for the relaxing nature of it and just for the arcady feel of trying to beat your high score or get higher in the leaderboards. It really is a really well made puzzle game and easily my favourite of all time for a lot of reasons. Any game can last from 10 minutes to an hour and really depends on your luck and skill. One of the most satisfying things in the game is getting huge chain reactions and it's ALWAYS satisfying to mix two hypercubes together.
While the other Bejeweled games are fine in their own right I find Bejeweled 3 to be my fav, whether I play it on PC or Nintendo DS, because of the features and because it has something for everyone and for every mood I'm in. If I wanna relax I play Zen mode, if I want the classic experience I play classic mode. If I want something more tactical I play the Poker mode and the Quest mode is for when I'm feeling masochistic and really wanna challenge myself. Either way I highly recommend playing this game if you're into puzzle games although I must warn you, getting addicted is way too easy... ;)

09 SiN

There are some games that came out in the 90's that kinda fell under the shadow of bigger hits. A great example is SiN versus Half-Life. Personally I prefer SiN, and for a lot of reasons. The main reason is that while Half-Life IS a great game, I think SiN had a lot more personality to it. SiN takes cues from Duke Nukem 3D and in a lot of ways probably gave people a Duke Nukem Forever long before it came out. The hero is a macho beefcake who spends most of the game quipping one-liners and chatting with a sidekick on his ear and the banter between them is really believable and gives the whole game a buddy cop feeling and I really dug that back in the day as not many games did that, at least not in the FPS genre. It also did something that was pretty groundbreaking back then, you could actually use in-game computers and even hack into them DOS-style which was really cool back then and this was YEARS before Doom 3 did the interactive computer thing and not even to the same degree.
The game pits you against the beautiful but deadly Elexis Sinclaire who has created a drug called Vanity which turns people into horrible mutants, her plan being to take over the world (OF COURSE!) with these mutants and create a new world in which the strongest survive. Being the badass futurecop you are, you're sent to take this crazy lady down and kick some ass on the way, fighting your way not only through the grunts that follow her but also the deadly creations from her biolabs. The expansion pack Wages of SiN also even added the ability to dual-wield pistols and added a ton of great features and new content to the game, including a flashlight, and gave you a brand new story to play where you're sent to take down a mob boss and has little to do with the story from the first game, only losely tied to it. An episodic sequel, cleverly titled SiN Episodes was to be released around 2002-2003 but only one episode, Emergence was released before Ritual Entertainment was bought by a game company that specializes in casual games... Yeah, you can imagine it was a death sentence to the SiN games so sadly, we're not likely to see any new SiN games any time soon.
That being said,  SiN is just an awesome shooter which sadly fell under the shadow of Half-Life when it came out and to me, it's just a better game. You can find it easily on Steam these days so finding it is not that hard and boxed copies are also easy to find on eBay. That being said the expansion Wages of SiN is NOT available on Steam and nor is it compatible with the Steam version so I highly recommend picking this up on eBay if you can.

08 Fallout 2

There was a reason I skipped classes for several weeks back in junior high school and that reason was Fallout 2. At that point I hadn't really played a game that was this hard to put down. This is arguably one of my favourite RPG's of all time and whenever I play it, it's very easy to see why. While Fallout 1 was a pretty good RPG that was unique when it came out, Fallout 2 just improves on everything and becomes a much more memorable game. It also has a lot of adult content and dark humor which I really dug and it really makes Fallout 3 seem like such a tame and not to mention disappointing sequel in comparison as while I enjoyed the first person view of Fallout 3, it just didn't offer the same experience. There was just so many references, so much to do and so much random stuff in Fallout 2 that I felt was missing in Fallout 3. Not even the guns felt as good in Fallout 3 and I really do prefer the turnbased combat over the real-time combat in FO3.
The game is a direct sequel to the first Fallout and you play as the descendant of the hero from the first game. Your mission is to find a G.E.C.K. (Garden of Eden Creation Kit) to save your village which isn't doing too well. Needless to say, being an enormous vast RPG, you have a lot to explore, tons of sidequests to do and can choose not to do the main quest at all, and the amount of freedom you have in this game is just amazing for the time. There is also a crazy amount of mods for this game to find online, just like with the sequels, and they do a lot of stuff from simply adding weapons, enhancing the graphics or even adding entirely new quests to do!
Needless to say with Fallout 2 you get a LOT for the money, and a completely unique experience, and a true classic in RPG history. I've spent god knows how many hours playing Fallout 2 and will probably spend more in the future, it really is an awesome RPG. You can easily find it too on both Steam and and I originally played a copy that was bundled with a game magazine.

07 MDK

MDK is one of those games that really impressed the hell out of me back in the day. You play as an androgynous hero in a tight ass "coil" suit with several neat tricks, such as a deployable parachute and a revolutionairy sniper helmet, and it pretty much was the first shooter that I know of that implemented a sniper rifle or at least made it a popular weapon in shooters. Your mission is to destroy alien city-sized "minecrawlers" that are pretty much running over the planet and crushing anything in their path and consuming resources, especially potatoes for some odd reason. You get some help of course from a slightly mad scientist who invented your weapons and a six-legged robot dog named Bones (though he prefers the name Max).
It's just overall a really cool game and it does a really good job mixing humor and seriousness and it has a really dark and gothic look that I just dig the hell out of and it works really well with the limited 3D they had back then and it's aged really well. Not only did it look amazing for the time, it also has one of the best game soundtracks I've heard, done by the awesome Tommy Tallarico. It feels a lot like a third person Doom and that's just a great thing to me, though the controls do change a bit sometimes which can be a bit of an annoyance.
You can find it easily on Steam and and I've even made a patch for the Steam version to make it more Steam compatible and bring back some missing content.

06 Duke Nukem 3D

If I had to say which game is my favourite from the 90's it would easily be Duke Nukem 3D, and while it is not my favourite game or my favourite Duke Nukem game even, it really is a great game and one I've played a lot and still play a lot. The fact that it has a ton of mods available and is even very easy to mod yourself gives it a really extended life and it really is an awesome shooter that really put Duke on the map and gave him the personality he has today thanks to Jon St Jon. Aside from that, it just has memorable boss fights, really good level design and while the graphics weren't that good for the time (Quake came out the same year), the amount of passion put into the game and just the personality of it makes it one of my favourite games easily, and I definitely prefer it to Doom or Quake.
The game is basically about the allaround badass Duke Nukem who has to save the world's women after an alien invasion that has killed off most of Earth's men and left the women to become enslaved by the aliens and used as incubators for their invasion. Needless to say this pisses Duke off and he goes off to kill the aliens once and for all.
The game is really easy to find, both on eBay, Steam and and costs next to nothing these days so you really get a great game for the money. And just the amount of interactivity it has was groundbreaking back then.

05 Deus Ex

You know how when someone mentions Deus Ex, someone reinstalls it? That's not just something they say, that's true. And I am guilty of reinstalling it multiple times. And there's a good reason for it, this game is just really good and really fun to play and one of the games that got me interested in RPG's back in the day. It blends elements from adventure games, RPG's and first person shooters, and mixing elements of cyberpunk and conspiracy theories in order to create something really fresh and memorable and the gameplay elements makes this game really fun to just mess around with and play over and over because every time I play the game I discover something new and not a lot of games can say that.
Really great game, easy to find on Steam and and not gonna set you back much. A true classic by every sense of the word.

04 Mass Effect Trilogy

It's really hard to say which of the Mass Effect games are my favourite so I'm just gonna say all 3 of them as I tend to see all of them as one game since they are meant to be played in succession and in my opinion, the games sort of compliment each other really well. The first game is more of a roleplaying experience and with a lot of inventory management, and honestly has the best story of the 3 games, the second game is more of an action/adventure experience and really plays more like a third person shooter. The third game feels like a mix between the first two games and also has a pretty decent multiplayer mode.
The games circle around Commander Shepard and his/her journey to save the galaxy from an ancient race of machines who are basically strong as gods and is in my opinion one of the most solid game trilogies out there, although not entirely without its flaws, and the ending to the third game continues to polarize critics and gamers alike. Still I've put so many hours into these games and really lived myself into them so much that I have to put them here on the list.

03 Unreal Tournament

What can you say about Unreal Tournament, it's just one of the best arena FPS's out there and has been since it came out. Just the amount of game modes, characters, guns and all around fun is huge in this game and while there is basically no story in the game, the focus isn't on the story, it's on the gameplay and to me, that's how all great games should be. Basically the game is a shooter in which the goal is to get the most kills and least deaths. Dead simple. Though there might always be additional goals depending on the game mode you choose. Team Deathmatch pits two opposing teams against each other, Capture The Flag does the same but each team guards a flag and the goal is to capture the opposing team's flag enough times to win the match. There are also more objective driven modes such as Assault where one team attacks the base while the other team defends it. The offensive team has to find a set amount of smaller objectives and complete them before the base can be overrun.
While Unreal Tournament 2004 and UT3 both are great sequels, you still can't beat the original imo, with its outstanding visuals that still hold up today and its awesome mod soundtrack composed by Alex Brandon who also worked on Deus Ex and Jazz Jackrabbit 2. One of my favourite things about UT is that it's highly modable and you can easily download additional characters and maps online to expand your experience and add a lot of additional custom content to it, and it's one of my staples in every LAN party I have as it runs really well on modern computers and whether played on PC or my Dreamcast, it is always a fun time and always a great party game.

02 Duke Nukem Forever

Yeah, I include both this, Duke Nukem and Duke Nukem 3D in the same list. I'm a huge Duke fan, so sue me! ;) I honestly don't get the hate and criticism people give this game. While I understand SOME of it, especially directed towards the console ports, I honestly don't understand most of it. I think the main problem people have with Duke Nukem Forever is that they take it way too seriously and honestly, that's sort of missing the point entirely. Both Duke Nukem 3D and Duke Nukem Forever are games that aren't meant to be taken seriously, pretty much the entire game is just made for fun and this goes through the entire design and gameplay.
That being said, this IS and always will be one of the most fun games I've played and I love every second of it. I still play it today and even recently completed it on the highest difficulty, and it's one of the few games I've done that on just because I am that dedicated to it. Duke Nukem Forever basically takes everything that made Duke Nukem 3D so great, the interactivity, the humor, the personality, the gameplay variety, pop culture references, and just amps it up to the nth degree.
I absolutely love the gameplay, the story, the graphics, the sound, everything is just solid. While there are some flaws about the game, especially the fact that the alien weapons just don't feel that satisfying and that there's a considerable lack of secrets, those are just really minor flaws and overall I love this game. There's just so much to do, so much detail and the humor is SPOT ON for Duke Nukem. Yeah it's immature and sometimes raunchy and makes you feel kinda dirty, but that's just the point of Duke Nukem. It's bad taste and revels in it and in result is one of the most unique shooters out there. I've never played anything like it and probably never will. I also have to mention that this game has something awesome that surprisingly few games have nowadays, at least on PC, a cheat mode! That's right, beat the game once and you can play around with various cheats such as infinite ammo, god mode, the original Duke 3D freezeray (bouncing projectiles instead of a constant stream), changing head sizes (basically the ol' bighead cheat) and playing the game mirrored or in black and white. Really, this is some of my favourite features of the game, just being able to dick around with the cheats to make the game even more fun to play when you just want to play for fun!
Strongly suggest you at least check out the free demo on Steam and decide for yourself what side of the fence you're on. I actually have a bit of a problem as whenever I see someone bashing the game I tend to get very defensive because I honestly love this game and think a LOT of people take it WAY too seriously and simply put, they just don't get it. It is by far one of my favourite games of all time and WOULD be my favourite game if it wasn't for the next game on my list...

01 Borderlands 2

I honestly don't know where to begin when it comes to Borderlands 2. I am a HUGE fan of the first game and it really was an awesome shooter that blended RPG elements with first person shooting to create a truly unique experience that was basically Diablo with guns. But it was so much more, it had humor, cartoony comic-book style graphics that was a huge contrast to the more realistic shooters of the time, it had memorable music and a Mad Max influenced vibe that I couldn't help but fall in love with. Then Borderlands 2 came out and boy, this is the PERFECT example of how you make a sequel. It takes EVERYTHING that made the first game great, taking the crazy gun combinations, the characters, the graphical style, the shoot'n'loot gameplay and just adding more story, more characters, the most memorable villain of all time for me with Handsome Jack, more guns, more loot and just making it a bigger and better game overall.
Borderlands 2 is a game that I just never get tired of. While the first game I easily get tired of and bored with, the second game I can play any time, any day, and never feel bored. There's constantly something there to draw me back, whether it's a new DLC, a new character to play, more rare guns to hunt for or just to live myself into that universe again and meet those crazy characters, laugh at the awesome dialogue, and just overall have a good fucking time. Borderlands 2 is a game that to me is flawless because no matter what flaws the game has, the reasons I find it awesome outweigh those flaws with such an amount that this is one of the few games that I feel deserves a true 10/10 score. I'm probably going to review it some day but I've been holding off because I find it hard to give this game a fair review since I am totally biased and consider this my favourite game of all time.
I keep playing it, I keep loving it, and probably will for years to come. It is simply an amazing game, and I cannot recommend it enough to anyone who love shooters. You owe it to yourself to play this game at least once in your lifetime. The characters give options for ANY playstyle there is, whether you wanna be a sniper, an elemental DOT expert or a tank. It is also the perfect game to play with a party of close friends and to me, there's nothing better than a game you can play with friends and that even is BETTER in multiplayer!
Should also be noted that Borderlands 2 is one of the few, if not the ONLY sequel I know that retroactively makes the first game even more fun to play as it expands on the characters from the first game and gives them way more character development and also makes the story from the first game more interesting since it builds on it. I just don't know any game sequel at the top of my head who does this as well as Borderlands 2 does. So yeah, that's why Borderlands 2 is my favourite game of all time.
At this point it is the game on my list that I have put the most amount of hours into on Steam with a staggering 442 hours and counting and that should indicate just how much I adore this game. I'm not gonna spoil too much of the game but let me just say that it is amazing and the story is one of the best I've seen in a game. It is dead simple but that's why it's so awesome. And the fact they keep releasing more and more content for the game is just amazing as I really love the stuff they keep giving us and keeping us playing the game.
It combines everything I love in games. Guns, roleplaying, sci-fi elements, humor, good music and atmosphere and characters you just can't help but fall in love with and that are so memorable they become part of your life. And honestly, to me that is what makes this game perfect in my eyes and why I keep playing it. What more can you ask for?
I can see myself playing this game for years to come which is not something I say easily about games these days but any game on this list are games I have played for a long time and will continue playing into the future, no matter what games come out. ;)

- Alyxx

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Top 20 Favourite Games (20-11)

I did a top 20 "best games of all time" list and I felt the title was a bit misleading. I am in no way stating which games are the best of all time, just what games I personally love the most. The following list contains games that are personal favourites to me and I had to stick to 20 because I really do play way too many games for a top 10 and there has been SO many favourites over the years that I just cannot overstate how much I love.

But first off I wanna give some honorable mentions to games that barely made the list:


I really love Half-Life and I've played it a lot back in 2001 and 2002, one of the games that really made me feel immersed and made me feel like I was going through one big world and not just levels and cutscenes. It was a groundbreaking game in the terms that it constantly kept you in first person and felt very cinematic but in a different sense than games like Metal Gear Solid. Though it hasn't aged that well and I find it really hard to play through these days unlike the games on the list so I just can't include it for that reason. I just don't play it anymore.

The Longest Journey and Pinchcliffe Grand Prix
Pinchcliffe Grand Prix
I've played these games a lot, TLJ mostly due to the great dialogue and lengthy expositions done by the excellent voice actors and it's easily one of the best Norwegian games I've played, next to the Pinchcliffe Grand Prix game, which I also really played a lot back in the day but I just don't play it anymore at all so I find it hard to include. Pinchcliffe Grand Prix is basically a collection of arcady minigames that you play in order to win car parts to build the legendary Il Tempo Gigante car from the movie and race in a Death Rally esque racing game. It's a really solid game, not very impressive graphically but it does the job well and runs on pretty much every computer since 1998 and the graphics were really good for the time in terms of CGI animation and you can really tell a lot of passion was put into it to make it as close ot the movie as possible, even getting some of the same voice actors even if it's been over 20 years since the movie came out. There IS a Nintendo DS version of this game but I have yet to try it out and I hear it's kinda meh so... I might just stick to the PC version. The entire game is in Norwegian since the movie is a Norwegian cult classic, but I'm pretty sure there is an English version too, just saying. The game received a prestigious EMMA award in 2001 so that counts for something. One of my favourite aspects about the game is that it's entirely without violence and still manages to be a lot of fun and is a great introduction for younger players into gaming and especially simple arcade games. I don't play it that much anymore but I can see it as a game I might play with my children one day.
The Longest Journey
TLJ is an adventure game about April Ryan who turns out to be having the power to travel at will between two parallell dimensions, one is in the science-focused Stark while the other is in the magic-focused Arcadia. It's a really solid point-and-click game with a huge story and universe and great voice acting and it's only ruined by the terrible sequel Dreamfall which I honestly consider one of the worst games I have ever played in my life. But TLJ is a great classic by all means. Either way, both of these games I have played a lot and I really loved them but I just don't find myself having the will to revisit them.

So that's it for the honorable mentions, let's move on to the 10 first games on my top 20 list.

20 Duke Nukem

Duke Nukem was the first game that I remember playing at all. My father was a computer enthusiast and so naturally I got a lot of experience around computers growing up and Duke Nukem was a really popular shareware title when I grew up and it got a lot of gameplay from me. My dad probably can't count all the times he woke up at 5 in the morning from the PC speaker sounds. The game is a fairly decent platformer that sported some nice graphics for the time and paralax scrolling on PC was a bit of an achievement back then as PC platformers were starting to take off. It might not have aged that well as it sports EGA graphics and mere PC speaker sounds, but for me the nostalgia is really strong and to this day I still play this game a lot and it's arguably one of my favourite platformers ever. The basic goal of the game is to get to the exit of the level but with as many points and as much health as possible, since it's a very arcady game and it's all about getting the highest score. You're armed with a ray gun to kill off enemies which can be upgraded as you play to fire more rapidly. It's divided into 3 episodes, and the goal of each episode is usually the same, kick the ass of Dr Proton and his Techbots to hell, though the setting and level design varies between each episode, a theme that would be revisited in future games.
Just like most Duke Nukem games to follow, it wasn't terribly original or even that good, but it was incredibly unique in the terms of style. Of course, I would come to grow up with Duke and his later games and they are some of the games I have played the most in my life and it was all thanks to this initial game. Though I'm placing it lowest on the list due to it having some issues such as the levels getting pretty repetitive after a while and some of them are even pretty badly designed and can be a chore to get through, but overall this game is as solid classic DOS gaming as it gets. The game can easily be found online as you can get it at and even on Steam as well, though since the game originally was released through mail order by Apogee, finding a boxed copy can be next to impossible, so if you do find one, consider yourself lucky.

19 BlackThorne

I'm not sure what really draws me to this game, whether it is the awesome 16bit graphics, the music, or just the sheer style of the game and the uber-sexy macho hero who reminds me of Duke Nukem for some reason. All I know is that I played it a LOT as a kid, almost as much as the first Duke Nukem, and also play it a lot today in DOSBox. It's just an overall solid action/adventure game in the vein of Prince of Persia, except you get a shotgun and the ability to hide in the shadows, not to mention you can fire behind your shoulder without looking (which would be IMPOSSIBLE but it works in a 2D space just fine). The main goal of the game is to fight an evil overlord who has enslaved your people and you have to go through 3-4 different stages to get there, each stage split into sections that you travel through in Prince of Persia style. Some might find the controls a bit sluggish but if you've played PoP before, they should feel like second nature. It's just a really cool game and I always keep it installed for some reason. Pretty difficult to find nowadays, especially a boxed copy.
Really wish it would be released on or Steam as Blizzard do own the rights to this game since they developed it. A GBA port was released more recently though which might be easier to find though I really recommend tracking down the DOS version since every other version I've played was very censored and the blood was recoloured green while in the original DOS version the violence was more graphic, giving it a more adult feel.

18 Terraria

There are few games I can just play for days and never get tired of. When I first played Terraria I think I must've played it for an entire day almost, it's a game that I'm almost afraid of playing since I know I won't be able to play anything else for several hours or even an entire day if I get into it. A lot of people compare it to Minecraft but that's almost an unfair comparison as Terraria is so much more than what it appears to be. I've also had some people not wanting to play it due to the 2D graphics but to me that's one of the reasons I love it. It reminds me so much of the old 2D DOS games I played as a kid and I completely adore the style of it. While you can craft in the game and a lot of the game centers around crafting and building, you also have tons of enemies to fight and even bosses, and there's a lot of really good RPG elements in play that make it a very diverse experience. It's just a game I never get tired of and I can see myself playing it way into the future. The game can be found on Steam for next to nothing these days so I strongly recommend checking it out if you have any interest in Minecraft-like games, though like I said, it's a lot different from Minecraft.

17 Metroid Fusion

Out of all the Metroid games I strangely find Fusion to be my favourite. I've played it over and over more times than I can count and while I don't play it that much anymore it is the game in the series that I find the scariest, with the best story, the best controls and also the best gameplay. It is easily the best 2D Metroid and while the music isn't as memorable as Metroid 1 or Super Metroid, it definitely does set a good tone and adds a lot to the atmosphere in the game. The sound effects are really good for the GBA and I also really enjoy the fact that the game is pretty linear so you never get lost which for me was a common problem in other 2D Metroids and even the 3D ones. It is much easier to get through the game in Metroid Fusion and that's always a plus for me. Of course I have nothing against the more free exploration in other Metroids, I just simply prefer a more linear path and I am very happy that Fusion offered that. I also find the X parasites a really cool enemy and I think the SA-X is the most memorable enemy in the entire franchise, only possibly rivaled by Dark Samus in the Prime games. I only have one thing left to say, this game can bring chills down my spine and it's on a handheld platform. To me that counts for a lot.

16 Quake
Aww, he just wants to hug you!
Of course, to me I wouldn't be able to make a favourite games list without throwing in at least one id Software game and to me, Quake will always be their crowning achievement. The Lovecraftian tone coupled with the Nine Inch Nails sound design and the classic FPS gameplay that popularized a lot of things such as rocket jumping and online multiplayer even more than Doom did, makes Quake a solid 90's classic game that people are still modding it and creating new content, and with engines like Darkplaces you can even install high resolution textures that really make the game feel a lot more modern. The game is basically another Doom, except with less of a It really is their best game in my opinion and although it often falls under the shadow of Doom and Wolfenstein 3d, to me Quake just combines everything they had done at that point and perfected it. It was also a groundbreaking title in that it used polygon models instead of sprites, something that was really cutting edge back in 1996, especially since the game ran pretty well on most PC's, although it definitely benefited from hardware acceleration.

15 Grim Fandango

Of course I had to squeeze in an adventure game here and while I really love other games like Monkey Island and The Longest Journey, Grim Fandango is really my favourite adventure game of all time. I've played it so much that I know the entire game, every character, every line, every scene by heart and I must've played it more than any other adventure game I can think of. It's just a really charming game, chock full of humor and a bit of dark undertones too and the world was one of the first that I felt was believable and I could explore and get lost in. The art design also feels really fresh as it mixes 40's art deco with Mexican folk lore, something no other game has done to my knowledge, at least not in the same way and that well. The game is about Manny Calavera, who might appear to be the grim reaper but he's nothing more than a salesman who sells trips to the Ninth Underworld, the place of eternal rest, while spending his time trying to work off his time so he can get there himself. Of course he discovers that there is some heavy corruption going on and uncovers a web of deceit that leads him to an underground resistance and so on, though his quest soon becomes more about finding a woman who he feels responsible for, Mercedes Colomar, after not being able to give her a good trip despite her flawless attributes. It really is a gripping story and one I don't mind replaying now and then, like a good book or good movie, you can watch it again and discover something new.

14 Star Fox

The only console that I've actually spent a considerable amount of time gaming on was the SNES and among the games we had for the system, one of them was a little game called Star Fox, or Starwing here in Europe. The game is fairly unique in that it was one of the few games for the SNES that utilized real time 3D graphics. It achieved this by actually having a 3D processor chip included on the cart itself, which did all the math for the polygons and stuff, leaving the rest of the functions such as sprite scaling and sound to the SNES. This made for some really graphically impressive games for the SNES, Star Fox being probably the most popular and it's easy to see why. Star Fox is so much more than just a tech demo for the Super FX chip, it's actually really fun to play. It's basically an on-rails arcade shooter where you play through a set course of levels out of a possible 3, each of varying difficulty, attempting to get the highest score possible. Everything about Star Fox makes it an insanely memorable game for me and I even got so much into the game that I put on a headset and pretended to be actually flying the arwing. Easily one of my favourite SNES games and one I can pick up and play any day. There's even a slight animals vs humans theme going on which I find really intriguing.

13 Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams

Now this is one that I just wanna include because it has become one of my favourite games lately. It's a PC platformer that is essentially a sort of modern remake of the old Giana Sisters game for Commodore 64. Though Twisted Dreams is actually more than the original game was. While the original Giana Sisters alot of the time felt like a mere Mario ripoff, Twisted Dreams has a much more unique feel to it and a lot of really cool gameplay elements that I just haven't seen in other platformers that much. It takes some clues from the new Super Mario games on Wii but adds its own style and flavour to it. The music is done by Chris Hülsbeck and Machinae Supremacy and they've done a stellar job re-imagining the old chiptunes from the original into pretty epic rock songs that still maintain the addictive melodies and update them with more modern production, giving them more of an edge. An interesting thing about this game is the focus it has and the focus is on parallell dimensions and almost everything in the game, graphics, sound AND gameplay work together towards this focus. You can change between the Giana Sisters at any time you want, both of them being in different dimensions that work as opposites of each other and the levels are designed to take advantage of this game mechanic so you're constantly having to change between characters. It's similar to the dark world mechanic in Zelda Link to the Past in that each dimension has slightly different elements and you have to use both to complete the game. An interesting mechanic is that the graphics and music change on the fly as you change between dimensions and the music in Punk Giana's dimension is a lot more rocked up by Machinae Supremacy and the music in Cute Giana's dimension is more mellow and synthesized to give it a less rocked feel. To me that's just ingenious game design and shows that strong focus can really help give a game a unique feel. I strongly recommend checking the game out and there's even a free demo of it available on Steam, though you can get it DRM-free at as well.

12 Super Mario World

Super Mario World was a game that I played almost ridicilously much growing up. Simply because it was easy to play but hard to master, and a ton of fun. Coming home from school, I would often do my homework and then just spend the rest of the afternoon playing Super Mario World. And growing up the game remained one of my most played console games and to this day it's probably my favourite Mario game and the only one I ever really got into. Other Mario games I've always had a bit of a problem getting into since I am primarily a PC gamer and only have a pretty marginal interest in console games, but World definitely is the Mario game that I love the most. I would say it's pretty much the perfect Mario game to me and I think a lot of Mario fans can agree.

11 Balls of Steel

Balls of Steel is pretty much to me the most fun pinball game I've played. Inspired by the pinball cabinet displayed in Duke Nukem 3D, it was released by 3D Realms under their Pinball Wizards label and lets you actually play a pinball table based on Duke Nukem 3D. I play it mostly for the Duke Nukem table but the other tables are just as fun and I always keep it installed for some quick and dirty pinball fun whenever I need it. I've tried a lot of other pinball games over the years but none of them really felt as satisfying and fun as Balls of Steel and I just simply love the game to death. It's a shame it was the only pinball game ever released under 3D Realms/Apogee's Pinball Wizards label but it's also one of the best pinball games out there so... at least it has that going for it. You can get it at these days and that's the version I recommend getting, although a boxed copy is pretty easy to find on eBay if you give it a few searches. Highly recommended if you want a fun pinball game that doesn't take a whole lot to get into. It might not be very accurate in terms of realism or simulation but you know what, it's fun as hell and that's what matters to me.

So that's it for now. Stay tuned for my follow up list which will contain my top 10 favourite games of all time! Feel free to leave comments below!

- Alyxx