Reviews by Ascadia
A hidden gemAscadia | Sept. 2, 2011 | Review of Uplink DNS
Following the hollywood school of hacking while keeping a retro style ui this game is unique both visually and in game play. This is not something I could recommend to everyone but its a niche game with niche appeal and if you like this sort of thing, then this is the sort of thing you will like. The game spins an interesting story via cryptic messages and mission objectives. Uplink will give you nothing, you have to work for everything but when you begin to scratch at the surface and really start to dig the game is unlike anything else on the market. Even the "Hacker" series pales in comparison.
looking past the expectationsAscadia | Sept. 2, 2011 | Review of Mafia II dns
Mafia 2 is not a sandbox game. It was never designed to be a sandbox game, the original was not a Sandbox game and the sequel is not a sandbox game. While the Mafia series has cosmetic similarities to the sandbox genre it is at its heart a story driven action game set in a city environment. The environment is there for setting and atmosphere, not to extend the gameplay in any meaningful way. Could they have made Mafia 2 into a standard sandbox? Certainly, but that is not what the core fans were looking for.
Now that's out of the way, lets talk about the game itself.
Mafia 2 is a classic mafia tale, spun in a small slice of war era Chicago/New York. The characters are great, the plot is exactly what you would expect from a Mafia themed script and the gameplay is fast and fun. Visually the game is a treat for the eyes and the over all impressiveness of the environment really pulls you into the world.
Sadly Mafia 2 was heavily mismanaged in both its development and its launch. The devs tried to do too much and ended up having to cut a ton of content and hand it over to another development team to finish off as DLC, and 2K cut so much content for pre-order bonuses that there was very little if any rewards left beyond the story for playing through the game and finishing the missions. However the games plot props up this very uneven house very well and if you approach it with the right mindset you will walk away with a very enjoyable experience. However if you expect this to be GTA with Fallout Music you will be disappointed.
Beautiful chaos!Ascadia | Sept. 2, 2011 | Review of Just Cause 2
The world is huge, the graphics are beyond beautiful and the entire point of the game is to blow stuff up in fun and creative ways. Whats not to love? Sadly the plot. I never realized how important a good story was to a sandbox game until I played Just Cause 2. Coming from GTA4 and Saints Row 2 to Just Cause 2, something is lacking and that something is an real reason to give a fig about the main character or the world in which you play. The voice acting and script makes Steven Seagal look like high art to the point that you could almost mistake it for parody... were it not for the fact that it isn't even funny in its ludicrousness. Just Cause 2 is fun but ultimately hallow, but acts as a nice place holder until Saints Row the Third.
Old School for coolAscadia | Sept. 2, 2011 | Review of Super Meat Boy
A charming return to a classic formula, Super Meat Boy hits all of those retro points for the 8-bit era while injecting a heavy dose of twisted sarcastic charm. The level design is perhaps the most amazing thing about this game. Each level has been designed so its easier to "speed run" than it is to try and carefully make your way through the game, but you have to be precise in your reactions and timing. Think of it like an entire game made up of getting the star at the end of a level in Mario 3, when you do it right its effortless but one minor slip and you end up with a mushroom. If you like platform games of old, you owe it to yourself to play Super Meat Boy.
Good but not the best.Ascadia | Sept. 2, 2011 | Review of Sid Meier's Civilization® V
Every new version of Civilization sets itself apart from its predecessors. This is not like an EA sports game with a new roster and minor tweaks, but an entirely new user experience unique and different from the previous installments yet familiar enough for old school players to pick up the game and go.
The problem is that Civilization IV was far too good a game, made even better by an amazing modding community. Civ V has some huge shoes to fill and while it does an admirable job of being different you would be hard pressed to say its better.
Civ 5 plays out more like the board game than the video game, the hex map and single unit stacks create an interesting flow to combat while the city building and resource gathering portion of the game remains largely the same with exception to some minor improvements. Sadly where the game falls apart is the AI, which is amazingly exploitable. The AI has no idea how to move troops in formation and multi move units like horses will decimate heavily fortified cities with only a small handful of units.
If you are new to Civ this is a great jumping in point, its fast, its user friendly and its beautiful but if you are a Civ veteran looking for something dynamic and new you may be better served playing the Civ 4 mod "Fall from Heaven" which is where many of Civ V's new features are pulled from.
Too much of everything, not enough of what matters.Ascadia | Sept. 1, 2011 | Review of Duke Nukem Forever
I was a huge fan of Duke Nukem 3D but I gave up on the release of Duke Nukem Forever about 2 years into its delay cycle. What can I see, I am quick to write things off as Vaporware.
However when DNF finally made its appearance on PC and consoles I was happy to see it. I thought I was going to be treated to an old school FPS with over the top action and great level design. Instead I got a corridor shooter that plays like a documentary of the past 14 years of FPS evolution. Instead of sticking to what they did well, they tried to fold every "neat" idea from every other FPS... actually that's not entirely true, they just tried to fill the game with a whole bunch of neat ideas and no one in a position of authority seems to of had the balls of steel to say "no" to any of them, so you have a collection of mini games and bad vehicle sections breaking up all the linear shooter action. There is no pacing, no connection between the levels, no real exploration... kill dudes from point a to b then complete some dumb mini games, go for a drive then shoot some more guys in a closed off environment that tunnels you to the end once more. Its Duke Nukem... I wasnt expecting it to be the best FPS in the world, but I was expecting it to be an FPS... rather than Mario Party with Strippers.
Such a shameAscadia | Sept. 1, 2011 | Review of Dungeon Siege III
Lets get one thing out of the way. Dungeon Siege 3 does not live up to the Legacy of 1 or 2.
The PC controls are terrible and you will need an xbox 360 pad to make it through this mess. The interesting level design has been replaced with a series of corridors, the loot system follows the Mass Effect 2 school of thought rather than the Diablo approach and over all everything feels shallow and unfulfilling.
If you are feeling the loot'em up ARPG itch... this game will not satisfy it.
DisapointingAscadia | Sept. 1, 2011 | Review of Two Worlds II
I picked this game up on sale along with the first by recommendation of a friend. The game opens up well enough, has an interesting plot, some neat dungeons and what seems like a decent combat system but once you get out into the open world the game just falls apart and becomes an endless series of fetch quests and "Do X Y and Z or I wont open this door." The game has absolutely everything except engaging quests. One could even say its like an MMO without any of the reward or social aspects.
Add on top of that the balance is all sorts of messed up. Once you begin to grow in level you either you are slaughtering everything in one hit, or you die in one hit. There really is no in-between which saps all the fun out of the combat.
Wonderful humor and great gameplayAscadia | Sept. 1, 2011 | Review of Magicka
Magicka was one of those games that came out of no where. There were whispers of its development and a couple of funny videos but then all was silent. Suddenly out of no where the game appeared on Steam, Paradox had lent a helping hand and it was announced the game would be out in a few short weeks. From the price one would expect a short, fun but not very detailed romp and that is simply not the case with Magicka. Its combat system is dynamic, its levels are long and large and its multiplayer continues to grow and become more involved with every passing month.
If you are looking for something light hearted to play with friends, look no further!
They just don't make them like this anymore.Ascadia | Sept. 1, 2011 | Review of Space Pirates And Zombies
Part Elite, part Space Rangers and Part Starfleet 2 this game hits all the right spots for an old school space opera junkie. It has a great plot, endless randomly generated missions, fast and fun combat and is highly addictive. On top of this it was made by just two guys, you really can't get more indie than that and they have been amazingly open with their community even in Beta. Support indie devs, support this dieing genre and buy one of the best games of 2011, by buying SPAZ!