Sunday, 6 December 2015

Top 10 Games of 2015

Another year comes to an end, and another year of gaming is over. For me, this year was filled with a lot of expectations, a lot of disappointments and some unforgettable moments. So let's take a look at my top 10 games of 2015.

Black Ops 3 for me is a bit of a disappointment. While I enjoy the campaign and multiplayer, especially with the new specialists, the game is horribly unoptimized on PC and suffers from really bad memory leaks. Specifically the game runs really well... for the first few minutes. And then the framerate gets worse and worse and it keeps degrading the longer I run it. The game also feels like it's somewhat lacking compared to Advanced Warfare which I loved and played the heck out of. Lack of akimbo weapons, lack of those various weapon and camo drops from AW, and while the gunshop is a neat idea you still are restricted to what attachments you have unlocked or not. It's a decent game but doesn't hold up to Advanced Warfare's standards in my opinion. Still, I will probably play the fuck out of it since it's still a lot of fun at times.

Arguably one of the best adventure games ever finally got re-released digitally early this year and what a way to start of the year. I grew up on Grim Fandango, and I've played through it countless times over the years. Coming back to Grim's world after all these years, it still looks as great as it did in 1999 and graphically this game has held up incredibly well. The pre-rendered scenes have been remastered in glorious high definition and look as crisp as ever, and the game has even been given some beautiful lighting effects, though these are more subtle really. The game now also offers you to play it with more traditional point-and-click controls as opposed to the "tank" controls of the original game (which I kinda prefer, that's how I played the game in its original form). One of my favourite games of all time and definitely worth picking up.

The Old Blood is a standalone prequel to Wolfenstein: The New Order, and if you loved that game, this is definitely for you. It offers more of the stealthy action from New Order but mixes in a lot of new and fresh ingredients that makes it much more of its own experience. I won't spoil the game too much but it gets really interesting near the end. It did NOT disappoint in any way and I highly recommend picking it up if you're ready for even more Nazi killing fun!

Shadowrun Chronicles is pretty much an online co-op experience of Shadowrun where runners can meet up in hubs and go on missions together. I've played it a ton with my friends and while it still remains very tactical, I really love the cyberpunk atmosphere and the fun of customizing your character's look, gear and playstyle. It's a very fun game that I highly recommend picking up if you're looking for something more like a tabletop Shadowrun experience since the other games on Steam now are more single-player campaigns.

 I was pretty hyped for this game ever since I saw the trailers for it. And I was not disappointed. Paying a lot of homage to the classic Mad Max movies as well as Fury Road, the atmosphere, characterization and story is absolutely spot on in this game. It gets it right, so to speak. And while the gameplay is more on the generic side, it still offers a really good open-world fix for fans of games like Far Cry or Tomb Raider. A good little time-waster that will make you feel badass as soon as you fire it up.

It's definitely sad to hear that this will be taken off Steam next year for undisclosed reasons (though I have my suspicions Gearbox is involved). But this is probably one of the most solid packs I've ever seen released. Offering 32 classic PC titles that helped define the 90's in PC gaming, it's a hell of a deal. Whether you like Duke Nukem, Shadow Warrior, Blake Stone, Terminal Velocity, Rise of the Triad or any of the other classic titles from 3D Realms, this pack is a must-own for any PC gamer. I still play a lot of these games from time to time, both for nostalgic reasons and because I feel they have held up very well. They are all simple action titles that you can just pick up and play any time and that's what makes them so great in my opinion. Apogee means action!

I was kind of resistant to Undertale to begin with. It didn't seem like my cup of tea, the graphics seemed a bit bad and it didn't help everyone hyped the game to the end of the world and back. That kind of effect usually just makes me stay away from something. But oh boy am I glad I gave this game a chance because Undertale is absolutely deceiving. At the surface it might seem like nothing more than an Earthbound ripoff with terrible graphics and a soundtrack that doesn't seem to be able to decide what chiptune era it wants to reside in. The truth is Undertale has one of the best stories I've ever seen in a game, and it's also one of the most unique gaming experiences I've ever had in my entire life. I won't spoil it for you but let's just say this game has gotten under my skin. It has cut deep into my soul and left marks that will forever remain there. It's a game I am almost afraid to play because I know I will get even more attached to it as I have barely played beyond the first areas yet. This game is simply amazing and is so much more than it appears to be. It is definitely deserving of all the hype it gets and the only reason it's not on my number one spot is out of pure defiance as all the games on this list are games I enjoy and Undertale is no different. You definitely should play this game and it's so cheap you really have no excuse not to. It offers so much for how little it asks of you, trust me on that.

Tales From The Borderlands technically released last year but has gotten on-going episodes all year. It's remained one of the most enjoyable experiences I've had and while I hesitate to call it an adventure game since it plays more like a quick-time event movie, it's a great story with really well written characters. It's a bit less heavy on the Borderlands style humor but it still made me gigglesnort a lot so it gets points from me. Worth picking up if you like Telltale and Borderlands, which I do. In fact Borderlands is one of my favourite franchises ever so... this automatically is awesome to me.

You may be wondering why I am listing Duke Nukem 3D as a game of 2015. Well here are my reasons:
1. I can play it while I'm taking a dump
2. It has all the expansions and PSN multiplayer
3. It's fucking Duke Nukem
4. Your argument is invalid.

Fallout 4 is probably the game I was the most hyped for this year and boy did it deliver. Everything feels like a vast improvement over Fallout 3. Better controls, better combat, better graphics (seriously, I'm so glad they actually gave this game some colour), and a much better story that had me pretty involved from the beginning. And while it's anything but a perfect game, it hit all the right marks for me and I can imagine I will be playing this for years to come, and I can't wait to see the mod scene really take off for this game now that they can offer mods on consoles as well. The world feels a lot more alive than in Fallout 3 and less barren which to me is a huge plus, and there's just so much more to do as there's a whole new crafting system involved as well as building houses and settlements. It's a very dynamic game where everything comes together much better and synergizes more. Junk isn't just junk, it's now ingredients for your crafting and is a lot more involved than in Fallout 3 where junk was just junk and vendor trash at best. Sadly no Liam Neeson in this game but hey, we get Garrus so I'm happy. :P

Thursday, 1 October 2015

[PS1 Game Review] Resident Evil: Director's Cut

Platform: PlayStation
Released: December 10th 1997
Genre: Action/Adventure / Survival Horror
Developer/Publisher: Capcom

Let's get this straight, I'm not a fan of horror games so I never went into Resident Evil because I wanted a scary experience. And let's face it, while the game does have a creepy atmosphere, to me it's all done in a very cheesy b-movie fashion like a cheap grindhouse horror flick. That was pretty much what drew me to the game. The voice acting is pretty much the definition of "so bad it's good" and the intro live action movie sets the tone perfectly. Even the end credits with its cheesy 90's rock music felt like I was watching the end credits to a cheap horror flick so I enjoyed the game probably for entirely different reasons than people of a certain age did who played it before they had any kind of relationship to b-movies and found it genuinely scary.

The story is pretty simple and taken straight out of a b-movie horror flick. An elite police squad known as S.T.A.R.S. (no idea what it stands for but the acronym looks cool, lol) are sent to investigate a mansion in the outskirts of Raccoon City (a fictional US city). On the way there they are attacked by what seems to be rabid dogs and take shelter in the mansion's main hall. From there they slowly discover they are not alone in the mansion as the place is filled with zombies, more rabid dogs and other mutated creatures due to the spread of a bio-weapon known as the T-virus, developed by the Umbrella Corporation. The game is about their survival, and whether or not they will make it out of there alive to spread the truth.

Resident Evil is probably the first game to outright state itself as "survival horror", which is something I consider more an offshoot of the action/adventure genre since it still relies heavily on inventory management and puzzle solving with some combat thrown in for good measure. The focus is put more on limited resources, forcing you to think tactically about ammo and item usage, and this is pretty much the defining key gameplay mechanic of the game. Though usually it boils down to using specific weapons for specific enemies. The pistol is alright as a starting weapon but the shotgun is probably my favouite weapon. For bigger enemies I'd pick up a Bazooka or even the magnum. Most of the puzzles in the game are environment related, finding the right key for the right door etc. Often they rely on you checking the items in your inventory which often lead to me getting stuck since I wasn't that good at checking items. :P
Even saves are limited, as you are forced to collect "ink ribbons" to use on typewriters in certain rooms throughout the game. To me, this doesn't really add any horror aspect to the game as it feels like a very cheap and manipulative way of adding tension. I mean yes, I understand the intention but I don't think it would matter if the game had unlimited saves personally. Playing the game on the Easy difficulty gave me plenty of ink ribbons though so in my opinion, it removed the main problem I had with the game.

A lot of people have criticized the controls, which are often called "tank controls" due to being a bit stiff. There's no way to strafe so you tend to turn and walk forward or backwards a lot. It feels a bit awkward, sure, but I got used to it very quickly and it soon became second nature to me. There aren't a lot of open spaces anyway and strafing would probably end up feeling weird with the fixed camera angles. Sometimes the fixed camera angles can be a bit disorienting, but again, something I got used to quickly, probably from playing a ton of Grim Fandango which had similar controls and camera angles.

The fixed camera angles are obviously there for a reason though as the game used pre-rendered graphics for the environments, in the sense that everything on the screen that doesn't move is just a static image. For the time this gave the game really realistic graphics and it's one of the aspects of the game that has made it hold up much better over time than some of its contemporary titles. All the characters, enemies and interactable objects are rendered in real time though so they still look pretty chunky, but it's nothing that bothered me too much.

The music is one of the main contributors to the game's atmosphere, and it's often one of the more creepy aspects of the game. For the time the music is exceptionally well done and a lot of times I would feel tense just walking into a room from the music alone. I also loved the cheesy end theme. Felt like a bit of a "reward" after playing the game to the end. The sounds are also pretty well done, and the voice acting is and always will be gloriously cheesy. I loved every second of it as it really felt like I was watching a bad movie.

So all in all, Resident Evil hasn't aged that well in some ways. The controls and camera angles might be a turnoff to some people, and a lot of the puzzles are way too obscure to figure out easily (it seriously took me a WHOLE YEAR to finish the game as I started playing it in 2014...). But the voice acting, prerendered scenery and music is all there and still creepy enough.


STORY: 7/10
It's definitely nothing special and wasn't anything special at the time. However it's presented very well and definitely has a charm to it. The twists aren't that shocking either, but add a nice flair to it.

A lot of the puzzles were pretty obsucre and took a long time to figure out, stalling the game for me. Otherwise an enjoyable experience though only on Easy mode. I might be seen as a pussy for saying it but... the Normal mode is just too difficult for my taste.

The prerendered scenery has held up fine and makes the game seem less dated than some of its counterparts. Granted the models look pretty dated, but that's to be expected.

SOUND: 8/10
The music is pretty good and the voice acting is extremely cheesy to the point where it ruins any attempts at taking the game seriously. It's still so bad it's good though.


Saturday, 26 September 2015

[PC Game Review] Star Wars: Dark Forces

Platform: PC
Released: February 1995
Genre: First Person Shooter
Developer/Publisher: LucasArts

Dark Forces is, in a nutshell, Doom with a Star Wars skin. That's pretty much the simple way of looking at it. However, it does some interesting things that in my opinion sets it apart from other shooters of its time. Is it still worth picking up? Let's find out as I take a look at this classic 90's FPS.

Dark Forces is set during the time of the original Star Wars trilogy (you know... episodes 4-6 cause Lucas felt like starting there for some reason) but is more set as a side story to the movies where you play badass mercenary Kyle Katarn who takes up missions for the rebels and ends up dealing with the Empire's new experimental prototype soldier, the Dark Forces. Oh, just to mention, in this game YOU are the guy who gets the Death Star plans that helps the rebels destroy the Death Star in Episode IV. Probably a key moment in the game because it directly ties you to the events that went on in the movie and makes you feel like "hey, I actually have a purpose in this game". The problem with a lot of games of this time is the lack of any meaning with what you're doing. Even though Doom is pretty much a perfect shooter, it lacks purpose. Since there is no plot or story to the game you're kinda just playing to see what's next and for nothing else. With Dark Forces, you don't play levels, you play missions. Each mission has a set goal that will impact the story and the mission briefings before each mission are essential to understanding the game's story and objectives because some of them can be a bit tricky to grasp without reading the briefing. There's also voice acting in the game and some cutscenes with some decent animation for the time, so all in all I felt the story was damn solid in the game and I felt really connected to the characters.

Now, Kyle is not a jedi (although he becomes one in the sequel, Jedi Knight), so instead of relying on the force and flashy lightsaber combat, he relies on his wits and his guns. It feels a bit refreshing playing a Star Wars game where you're not playing a Jedi or Sith to be honest. To just be the Han Solo type character, a grunt with some guns and a job to do, feels very different and that's one of the main reasons I feel this game has held up as well as it has. There's even a spot in the game where you're captured by Jabba the Hutt and thrown to one of his pets as food. So, instead of using the force to get your weapon back, you have to defeat this beast with your bare hands like a fucking badass. It's one of the most awesome moments I've had in gaming recently.

The game plays a lot like Doom though I would say it actually plays closer to Duke Nukem 3D in the sense you can look up and down as well as jump so you have a lot more freedom of movement than you'd expect from an early 90's shooter. The controls feel solid and, thankfully, are very easily customized so playing the game with modern WASD controls is very easy.

You have all the classic FPS weapons you'd expect. From classic blasters to explosives, so you have something for every situation. I really like the sound design on them and they all sound very authentic to the movies. Visually they look really cool as well with very detailed sprites.

The levels themselves are also really well designed, and everything feels like it's there for a purpose. For the time the level design is very impressive, and it does a lot of nice tricks that would probably be impossible in games like Doom. Since you're playing missions the levels feel more cinematic in design than a lot of shooters of the time and a lot of times I felt like I was in an actual Star Wars movie. Some of the levels could get a bit cryptic and I got stuck several times, though it thankfully never got so bad I had to consult a walkthrough. The only mission I didn't care that much for is the sewer mission early in the game. It's very easy to get stuck in the maze on that mission and it was only to assassinate a minor character so I felt it could easily have been cut out of the game. It feels like a filler mission.

One thing I noticed that kind of bothered me is the lack of a quicksave function. Unlike other shooters of the time you cannot save during a mission, the game autosaves between missions. Granted you have an extra lives system and checkpoints so if you die, you're only set back a short distance, making it not a big deal, but what if I have to go during a mission? Having to replay a mission from the start every time I have to leave made the game a bit more frustrating than it should've been. Thankfully they introduced quicksaving in the sequel so they obviously learned from their mistake.

The missions aren't usually that long though and once the objective is completed you are actually free to continue exploring if you want to and can quit when you feel ready to leave. I really liked this approach to gameplay and it feels very ahead of its time as instead of giving you a simple "end level switch" you can keep exploring for secrets if you want to without feeling like you are bound to the mission goal.

Graphically the game is gorgeous for its time. The atmosphere feels very genuinely Star Wars and I loved the attention to detail, especially when you can accidentally run into friendly droids on a level who are just running around peacefully. There are a lot of hostile enemies, sure, but it's nice to have a game where not all NPC's are hostile. The level designs feel like actual locations from the movies and help give the game a lot of authenticity. The atmosphere is definitely a good reason I kept coming back to the game.

Music-wise you have several options, and the quality of the music will depend on what sound card you have. I used SoundBlaster OP4 FM synthesis, which sounded decent enough and very oldschool so I felt it fit the game's time period. There are some very decent renditions of the movie score that helps add to the game's atmosphere. The sound design in general is very good with very authentic sound effects, decent voice acting and a great sense of ambience.


STORY: 10/10
The story is very well written for its time and draws you into the game unlike a lot of its contemporary games. It offers for a ton of memorable moments from the game.

The lack of a quicksave function really is the main downgrade for me in this game. Otherwise the game is pretty solid.

GRAPHICS: 8/10No support for high res modes means you are pretty much forced to play in a low-res 320x240 mode. Otherwise the atmosphere is spot on and the levels are very well designed.
The spritework feels very authentic and detailed.

SOUND: 10/10
Excellent music and authentic sound design. No real complaints here.


All in all, Star Wars: Dark Forces is a true classic FPS that you should definitely play if you're a fan of Star Wars or just oldschool shooters in general. Some of its features are well ahead of its time, while in some other ways it does feel a bit obsolete. But as a whole I had a blast playing this game. The force is strong with this one...
Now... on to tackle the sequel, Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II!

Friday, 25 September 2015

[PC] Call of Duty: Black Ops III Beta - Impressions

This won't be a review as much as just some general impressions and overview of the Call of Duty: Black Ops III Multiplayer Beta that released earlier in August, what I played of it and what I thought about it. A lot of it will be compared to Advanced Warfare which I have played a lot and so far consider the best game in the series.

One thing that struck me as very different off the bat is the focus on "Specialists". These are basically characters you play as during multiplayer, each with their own special skills and special weapons. I played as the Scout class (although I'm sure she had a different name...) and didn't get a chance to try the other ones. Her skills were a vision pulse that showed enemies around you for a while and a special recurve bow with explosive arrows.
It seems like a very cool concept to have the focus shifted from one customizable character to a whole bunch of more well defined classes to play and seems to take some ideas from games like Borderlands. I didn't get a feeling that these classes were meant to work together or synergize in any way though, which made it feel more like you chose more for your own reasons than to support your team, just choosing a class suiting your playstyle and preference.

The weapons... felt kinda boring. There was no option for akimbo weapons that I saw, which after AW's focus on different akimbo guns made the game feel almost lacking in a sense. The weapons that were shown in the beta felt very underpowered and I never felt like I dealt enough damage, even though I tried out different SMGs and assault rifles (my preferred weapon classes) extensively. I died a lot more than I do in AW as a result.

One thing i kinda like though is that the way of achieving gun attachments is enormously simplified. You now simply level up guns by killing enemies. The higher the level of the gun, the more attachments you get. Although a part of me prefers the weapon challenges in AW, I can see this system being more fun and fair for everyone.

The game also felt really unoptimized, but being a beta that's almost a given. Most of the time it felt perfectly playable but it had its slowdowns. I'm pretty sure this will be fixed in the final weeks leading up to release.

All in all, so far Black Ops 3 seems a lot less fun than AW. It has some interesting features such as the Specialist classes and I'm looking forward to trying more of them and seeing what other guns the game has to offer me. There was no customization in the game in the beta, but they promise gun customization and also custom player cards and emblems, and I truly hope there will be some cosmetic customization of the specialist character you play.
But I died a lot, none of the guns I used felt powerful even at close range and the movement felt clunky compared to AW and I couldn't really get into it. I'm probably still going to love the game, but so far I doubt Advanced Warfare is going to be uninstalled any time soon...

Monday, 14 September 2015

[PlayStation Vita Game Review] Xeodrifter

Platform: PlayStation Vita
Released: September 2015
Genre: Action/Adventure/Sidescroller
Developer/Publisher: Renegade Kid

Since Nintendo seems to have no interest in making good Metroid games anymore, it seems indie game devs have taken the torch and a lot of Metroid-influenced games have entered the market. Xeodrifter is one of them and since it was free on PS Plus for my Vita, I gave it a download. I'm not sure how different this version is from the PC, PS4 or 3DS versions, but you might as well treat this as a general review of the game as nothing about the PS Vita versions felt like it took particular advantage of the Vita's gimmicks. Is it worth picking up, or is this a game that should just be left drifting? Let's find out.

Xeodrifter is about a spaceman who ends up stranded in a small system when he accidentally bumps into a rogue asteroid. Scanning the nearby planets for resources, he finds some good energy signatures. However it turns out the simple plan to get a new warp core turns into a huge ordeal where he has to explore all four planets around him in order to find what he's looking for.

Not sure if it's meant to be lava, or boiling hot KoolAid...
Xeodrifter immediately should feel familiar to anyone who's played Metroid. The formula is pretty much intact, and the game obviously takes most of its inspiration from Nintendo's classic franchise. You know the drill by now. Find upgrades so you can uncover more of the map. You get upgrades by killing bosses. And you kill bosses by upgrading. However the system in Xeodrifter is a little unique. In addition to health upgrades that increase the number of hits you can take, you also have gun upgrades. Now, these upgrades DON'T act like you would expect in a Metroid game. Instead of each gun upgrade being something specific, it instead adds a gun point in your menu that you can spend in several categories, each category impacting how your gun behaves. You can have up to 3 different customizations and this gives you a lot of freedom to create different gun customizations for different situations. For instance, you can have one customization with maximum power for bigger more armoured foes, and one customization focused on fire rate for large hordes of smaller weaker enemies. It's a nice system that gives the game a very nice feel to it where you are in complete control of your power. The upgrades you get from killing the bosses mostly affect your exploration abilitiy. Areas that are previously locked off become available as they rely on you using your new abilites to reach them. For instance, while the areas in the background might seem off limits at first and nothing but cool little backgrounds to add more detail to the game's visuals, once you gain an ability you can literally phase into the background and use it as a secondary playing field. It's a cool mechanic that seems obviously inspired by oldschool platformers that tried playing the 3D gimmick, but adds some extra depth to the gameplay in a literal sense.

All modern space ships are of course outfitted with a save station, teleporter and map screen. No bed though.

Now, that's kind of where the positives about the game end for me. Aside from the graphics which are really good for an 8bit retro game and the music which is perfectly decent, the game falls short in a lot of areas. Despite having 4 planets to explore, they all feel... small. Tiny even. The maps don't feel that big and instead of feeling like you are exploring different planets they might as well be parts of one planet like in Metroid. Each planet has its own unique theme to it, but due to the small size of each planet's map, it ends up feeling a bit unnecessary to have them being 4 planets. I simply wish there was more to explore and not to mention a bit more variety as a lot of the same enemies appear on all of the planets without any indication why they would if they belonged to one planet's ecosystem. For instance, a giant eye-block (for the lack of a better term) on one planet looked like it belonged on that planet because its design seemed to fit the planet's design theme. However I ran into the same enemy on an entirely different planet where it felt entirely out of place. Not to mention, the game is VERY short and you can easily finish it in a couple days if you are good enough. There's a bit of a difficulty to the game but it feels cheap because it relies entirely on how much health and gun powerups you have. If you get killed it's easily because you aren't strong enough and by the end of the game you can pretty much rape everything and take all the hits in the world if you have found enough powerups.

"Imma firin' mah eyelazor!"
Another part where the game feels very lazy and cheap are the bosses themselves. Now, instead of having different bosses that fit the different planets and their themes, they have instead opted to reuse the same boss. Over and over. The only difference is that each iteration is a little bit tricker and involves a new pattern, as well as a simple color swap, but the bosses are essentially the same each time. It ends up feeling extremely monotonous and once you learn the boss' pattern, ALL of them become ridicilously easy. There's simply no challenge in them and they feel repetitive. The final boss does have one cool trick up his sleeve that I won't spoil, but otherwise, I really wish the game had more boss variety. Fighting the same boss over and over with some new patterns is just boring and tedious and doesn't feel interesting. It also feels a bit like untapped potential as the planets felt very thought out in their different designs, however putting the same boss on all planets made NO sense to me.

Controlling the spaceman also feels like it could've been improved. Not only is he WAY too tiny compared to his environment (he basically looks like Samus if she was the size she is when morph balling), which makes calculating his position hard on smaller screens (this game was obviously developed originally with PC in mind...), but his controls feel very slippery and takes a while to get used to. Even hours after playing this game it's still very easy for me to screw up simply because the controls don't feel as tight as they should be.

That'll teach you to spit fireballs on unsuspecting spacemen!


STORY: 5/10
Not really important to the gameplay and nothing memorable. It's just there pretty much.

Offering some cool gimmicks like the gun customization and phasing between background and foreground, but does little to expand on its formula or take full advantage of its level design and concepts. Repetitious boss battles and very cheap difficulty as well as slippery controls makes it hard to recommend repeated playthroughs of the game for anything but speedruns and to get a 100% rating.

The different planets have very cool designs to them and the graphics are generally very well done. The size of the hero is a bit too small for my taste though and I would've preferred a larger sprite for him.

SOUND: 8/10
While the music isn't outstanding and a lot of the sound effects are re-used over and over, it's servicable. A minor complaint is that the sound feels a little inconsistent. The sound effects sound like 16bit quality but the music is pure NES chiptunes which creates a bit of dissonance in my head. And the end theme is definitely not 8bit by any stretch. A bit more theming and consistency to the sound would've added a lot I feel. The music is alright, but nothing too memorable in my opinion.

All in all, Xeodrifter isn't a bad game. But it feels like it could've used more testing, more variation, and simply more of everything. Conceptually I like the idea of exploring different planets, but it doesn't feel like they explored the concept enough and instead stuck to some lazy shortcuts. It doesn't feel fleshed out enough. Compared to something like Metroid which the game obviously takes inspiration from, this doesn't feel like a worthy tribute. It has good ideas, but ultimately falls a bit short on all of them. It's probably worth the cheap price or getting it for free right now on PS Plus, but don't expect much for the money.

- Alyxx

Saturday, 8 August 2015

My Top 10 Most Awaited Games 2015

So with all the new games that have been announced lately, naturally I am very excited about some of them. So without any long introduction, here are the top 10 games I am most excited for in 2015.


I am a pretty big Star Wars fan. The movies have become more than the mere blockbusters they were and have become cultural icons to a lot of people. And with EA handling the newly acquired Star Wars IP, naturally people are skeptical to it. I remain hopeful it will be decent though, judging by the gameplay I've seen it seems to be pretty much Battlefield, just Star Wars themed. Which is not necessarily a bad thing.

 There's not much we know about Mass Effect Andromeda yet. Is it an MMO? Is it a standalone sequel? Is it a reboot? I don't care as long as it doesn't have Shep in it. Please.


After playing Ground Zeroes (which I still can't believe they wanted 60 bucks for), all I can say is that I am hyped as hell for this game. Kiefer Sutherland was a perfect casting choice for Snake and if Ground Zeroes is anything to go by, the gameplay is going to be sleeker than ever and it feels like a proper modernization of the series. And this might definitely be the final MGS game considering Konami seems uninterested in working with Kojima anymore. A sad affair that's hard to ignore, especially since Konami removed Kojima's name from the game... But, still having high hopes it might be the finest MGS experience yet. And from what I hear, PC gamers will have a reason to be hyped since the PC version seems to be the graphically superior version (given you have good enough hardware that is).


While it does seem like a bit of a cash-grab, it's nice to see Capcom giving their old mascot some well-deserved love at last. Mega Man Legacy Collection seems to be a collection of all the classic NES Mega Man games in one complete package, with remix modes, boss runs and other goodies. It definitely seems worth picking up when it comes out. I'm not super-hyped for it since the Mega Man games already are available on 3DS and Wii via the Virtual Console, and you can emulate them easily on PC. But after Capcom shitting all over Mega Man for decades now, I can't help but feel a bit happy inside that he's finally given some attention.


Shadow Warrior was an amazing remake. It had its flaws sure, it was really linear and repetitive, but the depth of the gameplay, the awesome graphics, the humor and not to mention the kickass soundtrack helped make it a strong comeback title for 3D Realms. It seems the sequel will introduce a lot of things to help fix the problems with the first game. You can have up to 4 people playing together in co-op which is already an awesome addition, levels seem more open-ended and not as constrained, and the new weapons seem amazingly over-the-top and silly. I'm already riding the hype train hard for this game. Who want some Wang?!

It seems Adam Jensen didn't just survive the end of Human Revolution, he's back with even more augmentations and more badassery as this sexy goatee cyberpunk supersoldier returns in another installment of the beloved Deus Ex franchise. We haven't had a sequel this soon since Deus Ex: Invisible War. Let's cross our fingers it won't be another disappointment...


While it seems to be rehashing the first game quite a bit, Rise of the Tomb Raider still intrigues me as I want to follow Lara's story from the first game. The first game was a wonderful remake and a great origin story for Lara so to see where this game carries her is going to be interesting. I've heard rumors of this being a console exclusive, though I'm really hoping for a PC release eventually...


Probably no surprise there as I am admittely a huge Call of Duty fangirl at this point and await each annual installment with great excitement, eager to stay in the fray regularly with new levels, new game modes and new weapons and not to mention, another campaign to play through (yes, I actually do play through the campaign, shocker). It seems Black Ops III will carry on the slight cyberpunk feel of Advanced Warfare and considering AW has been my favorite CoD so far, that's definitely not a bad thing. It will be interesting to see what Treyarch has in store as their installments always remain some of my favourites in the franchise. The main reason I am excited for Black Ops 3 is the fact the campaign is co-op so it can be enjoyed with a friend. Colour me hyped!


When I saw the gameplay demo for the DOOM reboot, I just about orgasmed. The brutality of it, the executions, the soundtrack, the graphics, gameplay, everything seems like a wonderful return to form for the franchise. It seems faster, more intense and importantly more fun than DOOM 3 which, while being good, didn't exactly feel like DOOM. This however seems to be exactly what people want from a DOOM game and all I can do is applaud id Software for finally returning mod support with the SnapMap feature. The best thing about it? It's cross platform, and while you can't play with people on other systems, you can share content across them which I think is awesome. Speaking of DOOM and content sharing, this brings me to the number one game on my list...


After seeing the gameplay at E3 and QuakeCon all I can say is that Fallout 4 is looking to be a huge improvement over Fallout 3 in terms of gameplay. I'm still not sure about the story as it still seems very tame in comparison to Fallout 2 and I doubt with Bethesda in the ruling seat the series will ever go back to its over-the-top roots but it still looks like Fallout 4 will be a game I'd gladly sink 400+ hours into. I'm especially looking forward to the base building feature, the improved dialogue system and just getting lost in the wasteland again. I'm playing a lot of Fallout 3 to warm up for it. And speaking of content sharing, it seems Fallout 4 WILL be modable not only on PC this time but also on consoles, sharing content across systems using BethesdaNet. I'm super hyped to see what people can come up with not just on PC but also on the console side. Either way, Fallout 4 is gonna be a massive experience and probably a game I'll be playing for a good time forwards...

Sunday, 19 April 2015

[PlayStation Vita Game Review] Borderlands 2

Platform: PlayStation Vita
Released: 2014
Genre: First Person Shooter/Roleplaying Game
Developer: Gearbox (Ported by Iron Galaxy)
Publisher: 2K
Buy on eBay

Borderlands 2 is arguably my favourite game of all time, so when I heard it was being released for the PS Vita, it quickly became a system seller for me. I promptly purchased a PS Vita in 2013 and in 2014 the game was finally released. It's taken me a while to get around to reviewing the Vita version, but let's find out if this game is worth your money to get on the Vita. This review will focus exclusively on the Vita version and how it compares to the home console and PC versions of Borderlands 2, but let's begin with a short story recap and a basic summary of the main gameplay.

Borderlands 2 takes place a good time after the first game and as a result of the vault opening at the end of Borderlands 1, a substance known as Eridium has begun leaking out of the planet's core to the surface. The Hyperion corporation saw this opportunity to mine this substance, to use it for their own ends (among other things creating a unique type of gun known as E-Tech that turns bullets into lasers), which aren't always in the best interest of Pandora's citizens, especially when Hyperion legend Handsome Jack is in charge of it all. Your adventure starts as 1 of 4 (6 if you have the DLC characters) vault hunters who come to Pandora to, well, hunt vaults (duh), though it turns out the entire thing was a trap set up by Handsome Jack and the train you're on gets attacked by Hyperion soldiers. Although you easily survive the attack, the train turns out to be rigged with explosives and after an earth-shattering kaboom, you wake up in the frozen cold north of Pandora, greeted by everyone's favourite annoying robot, CL4P-TP (Claptrap).

Gameplay wise the game largely keeps the same formula from Borderlands 1, consisting of doing quests, choosing which abilities you want to upgrade on your character and all the while looking for the sweetest guns you can find. Some things are much improved in Borderlands 2 though. For instance, you no longer have to manually pick up shit from the ground as you'll automatically pick up ammo and money as you run over it. Guns and other items still have to be picked up manually though, as well as loot from chests. The skilltrees are also far more interesting in their structure, offering a broader range of abilities that affect each other in different ways. In short it feels like there are more skills to choose from in this game, which is a welcome change from the rather boring skilltrees in Borderlands 1. The guns also feel more like they have an identity in this game from a design perspective. In BL1, it seems the guns blended together a lot, and it wasn't easy to tell the various manufacturers apart aside from some minor differences such as colour schemes. In BL2, each gun manufacturer has its own unique design, making the guns more aesthetically diverse which I approve of. The colour schemes change based on the rarity of the gun. The only thing I would say is a step down is that legendaries are far more difficult to obtain, as it seems Marcus has completely removed them from his shops in this game (tough times it seems), so your only option is to hope they drop from the enemies you kill, or you can farm bosses (each boss has a higher chance of dropping certain legendaries).

The Vita version restricts the co-op to only 2 people as opposed to 4 people in the console and PC versions. I haven't had the chance to test this out yet but I'll update my review once I get to play the game multiplayer.

The Vita version controls pretty much identical to its console counterparts, although with some unique twists, such as sprinting, powersliding and meleeing by tapping the back screen of the Vita, or pressing the left and right side of the Vita screen to use your ability or throw grenades. It's fairly intuitive once you get used to it, although I would like to have more control options since a lot of people don't like being forced to use the Vita touch screens.

Graphically the game looks a lot less impressive on the Vita. Compared to more powerful systems it is obvious some sacrifices had to be made in the graphical department. The game doesn't look ugly by any means and the Borderlands graphical novel style definitely is intact, though less flashy and with less impressive effects, especially when compared to the PC version's PhysX liquids. It's a bit sad as games like Killzone: Mercenary show that the Vita CAN pull off impressive graphics without sacrificing framerate, however it is important to keep in mind that KM was developed specifically for the Vita while Borderlands 2 was never intended to run on a handheld system, so it's understandable at least.

The audio department is also stripped down a fair bit. Due to what I would guess are memory restrictions, there's no processing on the voice acting, so most of the time it can be a bit hard to hear. I also noticed the audio lags heavily sometimes whenever the game starts using up a lot of memory, especially after playing a map for an extended period and after playing a lot of dialogue.

It seems in general most of the problems of the Vita version are related to memory. The maps and the amount of data in them are obviously meant for more powerful systems and I've experienced crashes and audio lag and stuttering a lot when playing one map for a longer time. Loading times are also painfully slow at times. It's obvious that porting a game to a handheld system it was never intended for brings its share of issues and I wish the game had been given more time or budget so that we could've maybe gotten an exclusive Vita Borderlands game or a more customized port that would work better with the system's limitations.

In short, Borderlands 2 on the Vita is what it is. When it works it's pretty much the same game, pretty much everything is there and intact, although a bit stripped down. I've had hours of fun with the game personally and despite its flaws, I keep coming back to it. It offers shoot'n'looting on the go and to me, that's all I want from it.

STORY: 9/10
SOUND: 5/10

TOTAL: 6/10