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