Reviews by Beard_Whisperer

100

No Game Has Yet Achieved Such Perfection

Beard_Whisperer | Dec. 24, 2012 | Review of Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition (NA)

Dark Souls is one of the most amazing gaming experiences I have ever had in my life. It reminded me of all the things I loved about video games as a kid that were missing more and more in each new game that came out. It has consumed hours of my life, and I know it will continue to consume countless more.

If you are tired of games that are made for everyone, that entirely dumb down the gameplay and make every "challenge" easy to accomplish, then there is literally no better game out there. This brings back old-school fundamentals and elevates them to new heights. Whereas old games were challenging to help make up for the lack of immersion (naturally due to level of technology at the time) this game is challenging just for the heck of it. You WILL die in this game more than you have ever died in ANY other game. You know how in Online FPS' you are bound to die various times throughout a single 10 minute play-through, well, this is exactly the same way only when you die it can completely change what you have accomplished. Remember those 50,000 souls you spent hours and hours to save up? Guess what? You just lost them all along with all the Humanity that you were saving.

Which brings us to a fundamental core of this game: souls and humanity. This game essentially operates entirely on the stuff. Souls are used for purchasing weapons and upgrades which are EXTREMELY important to ones survival in this game. Humanity is used mostly for Online multiplayer, which consists in activating summoning sigils that other players have set out for you (or many times, their friends as they irritatingly decline your summon for help, a small flaw but one that is not due to the game itself). Multiplayer plays a small, but extremely helpful role to those who wish to use it. There is also a fun section later in the game where essentially the whole role of Multiplayer is to do your best to defeat as many other players as you can, for a huge amount of souls and other goodies.

The game itself is extremely hard to describe. The story is very much a backdrop of the entire game, which to me makes the game that much more enjoyable. Where most games suffer from lousy stories, Dark Souls (although it seems to have a very wonderful story) allows the player to simply enjoy the game as it is without being forced into terrible plots and plot-twists that force the game in an awkward and terrible direction.

The size of the game is IMMENSE, and completely non-linear. When you very first start the game (after the initial 30 minutes at least) you can (theoretically) choose where you want to go, but technically you will be limited based on your skill. This adds to the joy (and frustration) of the game to new-comers. You have to explore in order to see exactly where it is you need to go and what it is you need to be doing.

The art of this game is absolutely mind-blowing. Both in the character models and environments. I have never been big on games made by Japanese publishers, I have often found them to be too ridiculous or be so absurd that I just couldn't get in to them. This game has completely changed that, and given me a better understanding and appreciation of what the hype is oftentimes all about. The enemies are varied and frightening. The levels are challenging and relentless. Everything about this game screams haunting beauty. Which makes dying in this game all the more fun, because you just get to look more and more at all the beautiful landscapes as you try and make your way back down to retrieve your lost souls and humanity.

This game is perhaps the most harrowing game of isolation one will ever experience. You know nothing of what you will experience, and you rarely meet a friendly face. Thus the game is extremely rewarding. For instance, Bonfires are essentially spawn points, that allow you to more quickly access various areas of the game without having to wade through tons and tons of enemies and landscapes. As such, the moment you see a new bonfire for the first time is one of the greatest feelings you will ever experience in a game. Honestly, I am envious of those who get to experience this game for the first time, because once you learn the ins-and-outs of the levels, it is a feeling you will never truly feel again, at least not in full.

Honestly, I do not know what to say about this game or how to even talk about it. All I know is that I cannot recommend any other game as highly as I can recommend this one. It is reminiscent of the Castlevania series, but even darker and more unforgiving. As such, this game is a true practice in patience. I guarantee this game will change you forever, and not just as a gamer, but as a person. That is something I have never truly been able to say of any other game. Hence, I feel this game deserves no less than an absolutely perfect score.

95

Where Did My Day Go? It's Okay, I Don't Want It Back

Beard_Whisperer | Dec. 10, 2012 | Review of Fallout: New Vegas DNS

Fallout NV is quite the time consumer. It is easy to pick it up thinking you will just play for 20 minutes, to find out hours later that you spent your whole day playing it. This is not a bad thing (so long as one does not fall into the trap on days that need to be spent doing other things) by any means. Like Fallout 3, Fallout NV is extremely immersive. The level of detail put on not only the game but the stories and missions are incredible.

Customization has always been a strongpoint with Fallout, and that has not changed in NV. Character customization is extremely varied, and perks feel even more important than ever before. There are no skills that are wasted, except perhaps for Survival (except for those playing Hardcore mode or various mods), and the more points invested in a skill the more one can expect to get back from it.

Crafting is perhaps my favorite area of customization in this game. Unlike in Fallout 3 where one needed to go around and find diagrams before creating custom items, Fallout NV allows one to create items based on various skills. Repair skill allows for the creation of useful tools such as Weapon Repair Kits, and skills such as Explosives allow for the creation of some truly sick bombs!

Crafting also applies to the new ammo types. You can take your usual ammo, break it down to gun powder and the like in order to remake them as Armor Piercing, Hollow Point, or a couple of other rounds. Each round obviously has its advantages and disadvantages. Hollow point rounds devastate unarmored enemies, but will do even less damage than a regular round to heavily armored enemies. There are even different round types for heavy weapons such as the Missile Launcher.

Mods are a new area of customization, that in the Vanilla version of the game are great but not too varied. One can add mods to their weapons to make them lighter, more accurate, hold more ammo, add a mid or long-range scope, etc. If you wish to further this level of customization, one can easily find countless mods to do so.

Which brings me to this games greatest asset: it's continued support for the modding community. If there is something you don't like in the base game, it is guaranteed that others didn't like it either, and a fix or an alternative can easily be found online. Do you want to play a whole new campaign that you haven't played in the original game? You can find that in the mods. Do you want to use new weapons from fantasy style to historical? You can find that too. The level of mods made for this game makes an already highly replayable game all that more replayable.

But the Vanilla game alone already has a lot going for it. The mods just improve upon an already amazing game. The game is not perfect though, there are a few glitches (mostly graphical) every now and again that take away from the feeling of the post-apocalyptic wasteland.

Gambling in this game is unfortunately not as great as it was hyped up to be. And quite honestly except for to low-level players who are looking to risk earning a lot of caps, there is no need for gambling in this game by the time you end up making it to the New Vegas Strip. Then again, I doubt anyone is looking to buy this game as a replacement for other Gambling-based games. Personally I'm not a fan of gambling to begin with, but it would have been nice for this option to have been a more valuable asset to a game that clearly seemed to warrant it.

Other than that though, there are little problems that I could find with NV. The story line is great and easily replayable to create all different outcomes. The character ranges are so wonderful that you get lost in a world that feels quite real.

All in all, to fans of Fallout, you will not be dissapointed. To fans of RPGs, you will not be dissapointed. There is so much to be had in this game that if you can't find something to love, you clearly are just not looking hard enough.

96

Immersive Stealth Makes for Superb Experience

Beard_Whisperer | Dec. 9, 2012 | Review of Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a phenomenal game with a great deal of variety. Whether you choose to play through the game without firing a single bullet or going through each level guns blazing you will have a tremendous experience. The game feels so fluid that even if the game itself wasn't fun, it would be worth it just to play a couple levels. Fortunately the game is fun: very fun.

One of this games strongest points is the sheer immensity of play styles. What you decide to augment completely changes how you will be able to complete a level. If you choose to focus on fighting perks over hacking perks, you won't have the advantage of gaining key codes through hacking terminals (or having the ability to hack the lock itself) and will thus need to resort to actively eliminating those necessary to find the necessary code to continue on. Conversely, if you choose to invest in stealth options you will still be able to take out whomever you wish, but will excel if you stick to the shadows and seek out ways of remaining undetected.

The level design of this game is unsurpassed. I literally played through levels multiple times, and each time I could find a new way of getting around. This is also dependent upon your augmentations: if you invest in strength you will be able to move obstacles blocking hidden entrances. If you invest in stealth you will be able to sneak in through ways that otherwise would only be access after eliminating a large number of foes.

The game is therefore not linear, but that does not mean it is entirely open world. Although one can find a number of ways from getting from point A to point B, the game is not limitless in its options. This does not make the game suffer, it just keeps the game on target without deviating too far from its goal.

Missions are extremely fun and immersive. I have never played a stealth game with so much variability to the point that I could play through levels again and again and not get bored. Also, when you find a path that you are not currently augmented to handle, it gives you the urge to replay the game and choose different augmentations. Which, by the way is well worth it.

Although the game can be played any way you wish, the game does seem to be more advantageous to those willing to learn the layout of the levels and seek out a stealth based character build. This does not destroy the game, after all one still can blast through each level as they wish, they just won't be having as invigorating or as fun of an experience. Perhaps the game could have benefited from a little more challenge when players decide to focus on fighting rather than stealth. Some levels provide that challenge, with tons of patrolling troops and rocket-wielding robots. Others however can be a little too boring if you just end up blowing through a few enemies and arriving directly at your goal.

That small determent aside, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, has been one of my favorite gaming experiences. Both in the level of character detail and in the level of variability in the gameplay. To those who are fans of RPG elements in shooters, or who are looking for a great stealth experience akin to Metal Gear Solid, I cannot recommend Deus Ex: Human Revolution enough.

89

A Clear Alternative to Typical Shooters

Beard_Whisperer | Dec. 9, 2012 | Review of Homefront

Homefront is one of those games that pleasantly surprises you. Especially people like me who grew extremely tired of the Call of Duty hype. Most FPS games try to model their games alongside what people expect, but Homefront has tried to do something much different. I personally think they not only pulled it off, but created a great alternative to your typical shooter.

The single player story line is unfortunately nothing to write home about. When I first heard the plot of this game I was excited. Expecting something completely mind-blowing that would peek my interests. Sadly the story line, although good at some points, falls short of being everything it could have been (and what it promised to be). Perhaps I am never satisfied with FPS campaigns though. They are always too linear and never give enough room for replayability. One can only play through the same level with the same expected outcome so may times before growing bored.

Character interaction is practically non-existent. You don't get to talk with anyone really, and when you do it is brief and adds little to no depth to the story.

The fighting in the single player is good, at least as good as your typical FPS campaign fighting can be. Some moments are very action packed and adrenaline fueled, others are just alright. One will neither be blown-away nor overly dissapointed with the battles.

However, despite Homefront's downfalls in the single player, it completely makes up for in Multiplayer.

The class system and customization is quite detailed. You will feel a difference when playing a different class. Especially since each class can be customized very differently from one another. The more you play a class, the more you unlock for that class. These unlocks include new primary and secondary weapons. New special weapons (vests, drones, etc.) and a good selection of perks. Perks are given point values, and you are given 4 points to distribute however you see fit: pick four different 1-point value perks, two different 2-point value perks, etc. This helps keep the game balanced as well as letting people select various different perks until they find the ones that work best for them.

My favorite thing about Homefront is the Battlepoint system. Unlike Call of Duty where you have to get kill streaks to unlock all of the cool items such as air strikes and the like, you get points based on getting kills and completing objectives. The more points you get, the more you can do. Points are used to use vehicles: from simple transport vehicles to tanks to scout helicopters and the like. Points are also used for unlocking and using ones special weapons: missile launchers, drones, vests, etc. This is useful and allows for one to refill their launcher ammo if they run out by merely repurchasing another launcher.

This makes the game fun for those who are new to FPS multiplayer games as well as the veterans. This makes it a perfect game for casual FPS gamers like myself. Nothing is worse than trying to play a game online when you don't have the time that others have to master the game. Call of Duty requires players to spend countless hours to get the increased level of enjoyment. Homefront caters perfectly to both players: casual gamers will still be able to save up their Battlepoints and unlock the same great vehicles, but veterans will be able to unlock the gear more often. Therefore it is a great level of fun for all players.

The levels are wonderfully varied and fun. This game has my favorite level selection. Some levels cater more to snipers and others cater more to assault classes, but any level can be played with any class. Certain areas are perfect for sniping, others are perfect for rushing in and assaulting. Couple this with the fact that vehicles can be used in every level and the game becomes greatly varied and fun. You never know when you are going to need to bust out a missile launcher to take out a tank, or take cover from a more silent drone. This game is thus perfect for those who like their particular class, or for those who like to mix things up and be a jack of all trades. No one suffers completely, they just may have easier or harder times depending on each level.

All in all Homefront is an amazing game. The single player suffers no more than how it already suffers in virtually every other FPS game out there. Sadly though it does not stand out either, making those looking for a classic single player campaign having to look elsewhere. But for those who want to experience a new immersive online game mode that does not require hundreds of hours of playing to enjoy, this game is perfect.

74

Fun Medieval Simulation: Could Have Been So Much More

Beard_Whisperer | Dec. 8, 2012 | Review of Stronghold 3 Gold

I love everything about Medieval history. Give me a generic Medieval game to play, and no matter how flawed or glitched it is I can usually find something to love about it. Give me a polished Medieval game and I will probably be too enthralled to find any problems with it. Give me Stronghold 3, and I will be somewhere in-between.

Stronghold 3 (from now on referred to as Stronghold for simplicity), despite its initial bugs and glitches, is quite polished. It looks beautiful and I haven't personally run into any glitches myself. This alone makes Stronghold worth playing, especially for fellow Medievalists like myself. The graphics are quite good and the game runs very smooth even in large battles (at least on my mid-end laptop). My only complaint in terms of the graphics is I think the people look a little too cartoonish. The way people walk and carry out tasks takes away from the feeling of this game. Other than that though, the details on the buildings and items are wonderful. It is so intriguing to see the inside of the buildings as people are going about their business inside. Feels as if one is peeking back in time to look at Medieval life.

However, where the graphics and concept initially seems great, the gameplay leaves much to be desired. Battles in this game for me have been quite irritating. If you try and select a group of your archers or spearmen to attack a particular group of enemy, they will only attack the SINGLE enemy soldier that you right-clicked on. So rather than see a whole barrage of arrows flying across multiple enemies, you end up seeing a bunch of arrows wasted on a single soldier, wherein perhaps a mere 2 or 3 arrows would suffice. For archers this isn't too annoying, since their reload time is fast, but for spearmen who require a number of seconds before they can throw another spear it is absolutely frustrating.

Moving your troops is also problematic: when trying to move your troops across a greater distance to attack an enemy, they seem to get easily confused. If the enemy moves from their original spot to somewhere else, your troops will not change route, but instead will continue on in the original path. This would make sense realistically in very particular cases, but honestly they even do it when they are in range of the enemy and can see said enemy moving. I can't tell you how many times I had an outbreak of bears attacking the village, then sending a group of my soldiers to take care of them, only to see minutes later that a quarter of my villagers were killed and the soldiers were just standing there dumbfounded.

This doesn't destroy the playability of the game, although it certainly does harm it. The battles just require more vigilance, which honestly can get annoying when trying to simultaneously ensure that your villagers are happy and your food supply is well stocked.

Another complaint I have about the game is the map layouts. When I first played this game I was expecting something akin to Age of Empires, where you can start your village wherever you please and migrate further and further out until you end up quarreling with other Lords. Unfortunately this is far from what I found. Free-build mode is fun, but it is almost fruitless. When I first started I was playing on and on for hours, wondering "Why have I not had to worry about any bears attacking my villagers? Where is the outbreak of disease that ravishes my village?" Eventually I found that these events had to be initiated by the player. This destroyed the value of free-build for me, because I knew that every thing that happened to my village was pre-planned. "Send a pack of wolves to your village." Hmmmm, why not just send a pack of wolves to my village unannounced and make it more thrilling and challenging? Why not have this game simulate the harsh reality of Medieval life where danger can come from nowhere and plagues can completely wipe out villages? Perhaps such a game mode does exist, but I have yet to see it. Oh, and not to mention, the map is very limited... I was expecting wide open lands, but what I got was akin to a chessboard. You're telling me I can't make a huge castle that sprawls out far and wide?! Nonsense!

The story mode leaves quite a bit to be desired. It is very restricting in what it allows you to do. Military campaign virtually consists of starting with nothing to slowly working your way up to getting more and more tools to play with and buildings to build. This game mode does give "random" events at least. But the events are far from random once you end up reloading your game. If a pack of wolves attacks your village after 3 in-game days of building your town, and a fire breaks out a day after that, you can easily reload your game and make sure you are prepared before the third day, because sure enough the same event will happen right around the same time. This destroys the notion of random events happening even in the story mode, which is quite unfortunate.

I must say though, I LOVE the add-on game modes. Especially the historical sieges. It gives a means to educate oneself on the various sieges that have taken place throughout history, as well as turn the tides of those events as they really happened.

I must say too, that even though this game has a few problems that can get really infuriating, the game itself is very addicting. Yes, I end up doing similar things that I have already been doing, but I can't help but love what I am doing. It is fun to create your own village and build up your population. I just wish this was improved even further with the sort of random events and happenings that one can find in Age of Empires or Sid Meier's Civilization. Because if that were the case, the game would have been so much better. It has so many things right, but it has some very fundamental things wrong.

I recommend this game to anyone who has a love for Medieval History and/or Castles and/or Simulation games. I am sure you will have fun, but unfortunately you won't be having as much fun as you could have been having.

100

The only Multiplayer game worth playing!

Beard_Whisperer | Nov. 20, 2012 | Review of Chivalry: Medieval Warfare PRE

When I first saw the promotional video for this game last year, I was excited at both the concept and the gameplay. Back then I was unaware of it being strictly multiplayer. When I found out it was strictly multiplayer I was slightly turned off... until I played it. This game has completely restored my love in online gaming, and that is no short task.

In terms of gameplay alone, this game is phenomenal. I personally believe it achieves its goal of "being the best melee combat game to date." Unlike most melee fighting in games where the goal is to simply push buttons as fast as you can until your opponent dies, this game actually requires strategy in terms of swinging. The mouse acts as your sword, and the WASD keys act as your feet. Depending on what button you press you can attack in 1 of 3 ways: swing, stab, or overhead strike. Moving your mouse with your attack can make it more precise as this game actually factors in where you swing. Aim at their feet and (if they don't jump over your attack) you will do minimal damage, but potentially wound them (or even sever a limb completely). Attacking at their torso may do more damage depending on their armor, but may be harder to achieve if they are equipped with a shield. Of course, aiming at the head does the most damage and may very easily decapitate them.

Defending is similar to attacking. You don't just simply hold down a block button and expect to absorb less damage. You have to actually aim your block in relation to the direction they are striking from. If you are not equipped with a shield this is especially true, although having a shield does not make you immune from attacks. Aim your shield too far from their attack and they can still manage to hit your shoulder, torso, or even your head! Not to mention even with a shield your feet are virtually always exposed to attacks at all times.

The realism of the melee fighting is unsurpassed in any game I have ever played. When you strike someone, you can practically FEEL as if you yourself were actually swinging the weapon in real life. Contact actually happens, unlike in most games where your weapon looks as if it's just going into a random object that is either too close or too far away from it. Add this to the fact that skill level of your opponent plays a factor makes for a very invigorating feeling when you manage to get a swing to land. Couple that with the decapitation of heads or the severing of limbs and you get an unsurpassed melee experience.

Ranged weapons are not as fine-tuned as melee weapons are, but they are still very fun to use and equally challenging. Weapon type and arrow type play a roll into the damage they do, and to whom they do it to. Crossbows are powerful and will do great damage to any player despite their armor type. However they are much longer to load so require greater accuracy. Crossbowmen can use a shield to lodge in the ground in front of them, to grant them cover while they are aiming and reloading their weapon, which can be very useful in particular game modes. Archers will have a variety of arrows they can choose, either broadhead or bodkin, which deliver more or less damage to certain armor classes. Broadheads will inflect heavier damage to a light-armor class compared to a heavy-armor class, and vice versa for the Bodkin arrows.

There is also a variety of siege weapons that can be used depending on the level being played and what side you are on. Defenders get the advantage of ballistae which can be used to take out incoming attackers. Once the attackers reach the game with their battering ram, hot tar can be activated to fall on them from above, causing brutal fire damage to all who have the fortune of being caught in it. Attackers get the use of a trebuchet, whose huge rocks inflict damage over a large area.

These are all well-balanced however: those using a ballista are prone to being taken out by enemy archers. The same goes for those using the trebuchet. Not to mention friendly fire is always on for every weapon: hurling a huge stone could take out some enemies, but it could also easily take out 2 or 3 of your own guys. This makes for challenging accuracy and adds to the thrill of the warfare.

Friendly fire also applies to melee weapons. This further increases the strategy needed in successfully playing this game. Are you rushing a group of enemies by yourself? If so then taking a large sweeping swing with your Zweihänder to try and get all of them is a great idea. Are you taking on a few guys in a narrow passage alongside a few of your bodies? Then sweeping swings will most likely only kill or greatly harm your team mates, and thus stabbing attacks are called for. It takes time to get used to and master these tactics, but to me that is what makes it all the more fun.

Game modes are extremely varied considering the small price of this game. Team deathmatch and free-for-all game styles are what can be expected in any other online game. However the goal-oriented siege style gameplay is amazing and different depending on what map you are playing and what side you are playing on. Some modes require poisoning water supply with a cart full of dead bodies, to ultimately break through a gate and killing all heirs to the crown (cleverly guarded behind heavily defended boarded up walls). To game modes which require killing and raiding an outlying village only to break down the walls of a castle and go in to kill the king. Personally I love the objective gameplay in this game, and hope to see them continue to release new and varied levels like the ones they already have.

If you want to have a ton of fun and witness ultimate carnage than this games free-for-all deathmatch mode is the best. Imagine spending a good minute or two exchanging blows with someone only to see a second person coming in out of nowhere with a large sweeping strike! Nothing is more fun then witnessing constant bloodshed and carnage as a large number of people are seeking to destroy one another. This is all the more true when taking place in the arena level: a small level filled with a number of death traps and packed with 24+ people swinging swords and hurling throwing axes! Words cannot explain the level of excitement, triumph, and frustration that comes along with this!!!

There really are no complaints that I have about this game, at least those that pertain to the game itself. The only complaint I have, which is the same for any online game, is in the players you may come across. Some people take the game way too seriously, and are needlessly cruel to players who do not perform the best or who manage to suck at their try on ballista or trebuchet. But there are also some people who are extremely nice and fun to play with. Of course, as said though, these things are expected in any online multiplayer gaming experience.

As such, I think for the very cheap price of this game and the tons of hours of enjoyable playing you will get with this game, I have to give this game no less than 100 out of 100. Something I rarely feel the ability to do with games. I hope this game continues to sell well and catch on, because I can only imagine the high quality material that will come out of this team if they get the fortune to release in even bigger budget game! And if they ever do anything with single player... I will be waiting with bated breath (and unsheathed sword!)