Reviews by ConorEngelb

50

Frustrating as all hell

ConorEngelb | Sept. 13, 2014 | Review of Ampu-Tea

I like frustrating games, don't get me wrong, but sometimes they can be a little bit too frustrating. Like Ampu-Tea. I enjoyed Surgeon Simulator and I love tea, so I thought this game would be the game for me. Well, it's fun. But also really really annoying. The idea is similar to Surgeon Simulator: you control an arm, hand and fingers, while attempting to make a cup of tea as opposed to conducting an operation. However, the controls are a little bit too finicky and leave you prone to knocking the shelf of cups over, or just generally clearing the table off for no apparent reason. I'd recommend the game as a novelty, but nothing much more than that.

100

A fine line

ConorEngelb | Sept. 1, 2013 | Review of Saints Row IV (NA)

There is a fine line between fun-absurdity and absurdity that just doesn't make sense and is quite cringe-worthy. Saints Row IV toes this line, crossing it only occasionally. The leader of the Saints is now the President of the United States. With super-powers. In a Matrix-esque simulation created by aliens. Whose leader is the DJ for the Classical music radio station. And reads Jane Austen novels. The powers are amazingly fun to use; easy to adapt to and very versatile. Many of the missions had me laughing out loud: NyteBlade fan fiction brought to life, a quick-time event stripper dance, to name to just two.

Definitely worth buying. You don't wanna miss a thing.

86

No school like the old school

ConorEngelb | Aug. 21, 2013 | Review of DuckTales: Remastered

Oh, the nostalgia. This is a remastering done right; improved graphics and no changes made to the game itself beyond making it playable on modern machines. Beautiful to behold and fun to play.

90

Noire is Noir

ConorEngelb | Aug. 21, 2013 | Review of LA Noire The Complete Edition

LA Noire does a magnificent job of creating a true noir experience. The atmosphere of the 40s crime thriller is perfectly constructed and deeply layered. The animations in-game are excellent, and the overall graphics quality quite good too. Gameplay is well done, and fun to go through. The story is well-written and a pleasure to experience.

85

Fun to play

ConorEngelb | Aug. 19, 2013 | Review of Worms Clan Wars

A good quality game. Single player is fun, but multiplayer is where the game really shines, with its wide range of customisation options and large maps on which to play. The AI performs quite well and the graphics are decent, all in all making the game worth buying.

100

Excellent sequel

ConorEngelb | Aug. 19, 2013 | Review of Europa Universalis IV

Paradox got a lot of attention from Crusader Kings 2's success, which makes EU4 all the more important for them. And they managed to improve on the old EUs and CK2. EU4 is more accessible to new players, while still retaining that level of complexity and difficulty that made the previous games a pleasure to play, once the learning curve was overcome.

92

Fun Co-op

ConorEngelb | Aug. 19, 2013 | Review of Payday 2

Payday was fun - the feeling of robbing a bank/raiding a hospital with friends was a good one: exciting, adrenaline-filled. Payday 2 improves on everything that made its predecessor great. Better graphics and gameplay mechanics make the game a real pleasure to play, especially the addition of a class system for the player. Best enjoyed in a gang.

74

A cool new clan

ConorEngelb | Aug. 17, 2013 | Review of Total War: Shogun 2 - Hattori Clan DLC

Good DLC adds content to its parent game that expands it meaningfully, buy without feeling underdone, overpriced or intentionally left out. This DLC gets most of these mostly right.

While the addition of a new clan isn't the most meaningful addition to the game, it can somewhat increase the amount of time you spend playing. If you like the clan. On the plus side, they do look cool. It doesn't feel underdone; a well done addition, and nor does it feel intentionally left out - the game was more than good enough without it.

Worth picking up on sale, if you want to potentially get more out of Shogun 2.

88

Excellent DLC

ConorEngelb | Aug. 17, 2013 | Review of Dishonored®: The Brigmore Witches™

The Brigmore Witches concludes Daud's story, which is a rather bitter-sweet realisation. Every story has to end, of course, and this DLC brings the well-written Daud's to a satisfying end. However, it ends, which isn't a fun thing to realise. Daud feels more exciting to play as than Corvo did; his narration brings life to his morality, and he has many more diverse powers at his disposal.

The Brigmore Witches brings more intense stealth and/or combat to Dishonored, depending on your preference, and does it well. Creepy atmospheres, well-rounded story and gameplay: DLC done right.

60

Better on consoles

ConorEngelb | Aug. 14, 2013 | Review of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Hearthfire S

While I would buy Hearthfire simply to own everything Skyrim, it doesn't add much to the game for its price. The idea of being able to construct your own home is attractive, the DLC doesn't quite pull it off. It feels scripted and empty, while the free mods available to do the same thing are a good deal more immersive and of higher quality. Better for console players, then, who can't mod their Skyrim.

85

Lovecraftian Creepiness

ConorEngelb | Aug. 14, 2013 | Review of Magicka: The Stars are Left

H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos is fantastically detailed and creepy, and The Stars are Left successfully brings this rich mythology into Magicka, in the form of several brand new levels to play through. Like standard Magicka, the levels range from fun to play to frustratingly chalening (yet still fun), but with the added creepiness of Lovecraft's creation.

100

Masterpiece of a game

ConorEngelb | Aug. 14, 2013 | Review of Thief II: The Metal Age

Thief II is a rare sequel that lives up to its predecessor. Taking the mechanics that made the original Thief so brilliant, Thief II pushes the player into a steampunk-ish world, where they must use their tools of the trade and wits to remain hidden and complete their missions.

100

Classic Stealth

ConorEngelb | Aug. 14, 2013 | Review of Thief Gold

Thief was the stealth game that defined the stealth game genre and shaped its future. Despite its age, the game remains fun to play and challenging to play successfully. Few stealth games of the present have reached this level of well-thought out stealthiness.

80

Excellent blend of RTS and RPG

ConorEngelb | Aug. 14, 2013 | Review of Warlords Battlecry 3

The Warlords Battlecry series was the perfect mix of real-time strategy and role-playing elements. Managing an army from an RTS perspective while customising your hero character from an RPG angle makes for a unique experience. While Battlecry III is not as good as Battlecry II was - the story doesn't feel as invigorating, and the gameplay not as tight - it is still an excellent game to play.

70

It's so glittery

ConorEngelb | Aug. 9, 2013 | Review of Borderlands 2: Siren Glitter and Gore Pack

This skin gives the character a substantial reskin, and the new hairdo looks pretty cool. If you're a siren player and you appreciate bright colours, this is worth buying.

65

A decent enough pack

ConorEngelb | Aug. 9, 2013 | Review of Borderlands 2: Psycho Supremacy Pack

When a character doesn't wear a shirt, the only way you can really customize them (beyond some vague texture changes to their chest) is to give them a cool hat. And this hat is fairly cool. Nothing overly special, but it does stand out.

69

Creepy Hood

ConorEngelb | Aug. 9, 2013 | Review of Borderlands 2: Psycho Domination Pack

The real selling point of this DLC is the creepy as hell hood it gives the Psycho. The blood-streaks on his chest don't really stand out, or feel like a substantial change, but the hood is good.

70

Fits the character

ConorEngelb | Aug. 9, 2013 | Review of Borderlands 2: Mechromancer Steampunk Slayer Pack

The mechromancer gives off a very steampunk-y feel, even without this reskin. When she's wearing googles and gears and all the other staples of steampunk, she really reaches her true steampunk-y potential

70

Good reskin

ConorEngelb | Aug. 9, 2013 | Review of Borderlands 2: Commando Haggard Hunter Pack

This pack unlocks a new skin and head for the Commando, both of which suit his character fairly well. If you like having a beard that you can't really see, I would suggest getting this.

80

A satisfying RPG

ConorEngelb | Aug. 9, 2013 | Review of Realms of Arkania: Blade of Destiny

The combination of fairly decent graphics and well-rounded gameplay makes this game worth giving a try. A throwback to old school RPGs, Realms of Arkania blends a 3D world with round-based combat to great effect. It requires skill and finesse to succeed in besting your opponents.

80

Decent

ConorEngelb | Aug. 9, 2013 | Review of Legends of Aethereus CAP

A decent gaming experience. The world is satisfying to occupy, feeling almost like a real place rather than an empty shell containing quests. Combat is action-packed and fast-paced, and the skills and abilities cover a wide range of options. Well worth getting your hands on.

92

Awesome strategy

ConorEngelb | Aug. 8, 2013 | Review of Total War: Shogun 2

The Total War series is the apotheosis of strategy gaming. Awesome graphics mixed with great turn-based and real-time gameplay makes for one of the best gaming experiences ever.

80

Tight Tactical Game

ConorEngelb | Aug. 8, 2013 | Review of UFO: Afterlight Cap

Afterlight bears many similarities to XCOM: Enemy Unknown; aliens, tactical shooting, requiring micro-management of resources. And it's great; tactics are essential, going in all guns blazing seldom works out.

85

Excellent Collection

ConorEngelb | Aug. 8, 2013 | Review of Max Payne Complete Bundle

Well worth getting this collection; the number of games (excellent, all of them) makes the price worth it. Excellent games, with well-done stories that drive you on with decent graphics and enjoyable gameplay

64

Not the best Dungeon Siege

ConorEngelb | Aug. 8, 2013 | Review of Dungeon Siege III

The first two Dungeon Sieges had a delightful layer of complexity. Dungeon Siege III dumps this is favour of a limited number of abilities, uninteresting loot and forgettable storytelling. It's fun to play, but when compared to its predecessors it falls short.

72

A fun, basic RPG

ConorEngelb | Aug. 8, 2013 | Review of Two Worlds II Cap

This game is relatively fun; the RPG elements are all there: open-world exploration, monsters to kill, dungeons to kill monsters in, a wide range of loot to pick up. It's certainly not on the same level as, say, Skyrim, but it does well. Worth picking up if you're a fan of RPGs.

79

Great Platformer

ConorEngelb | Aug. 8, 2013 | Review of Cloudberry Kingdom

Cloudberry Kingdom is a fun, satisfying platformer that can, at times, be challenging to the extreme. Randomly generated levels means you can't expect the same result twice, which can be frustrating if you successfully navigate a tricky section, only to die on a really simple one.

74

A Good RTS

ConorEngelb | Aug. 8, 2013 | Review of Citadels

A good strategy game, if you enjoy strategy games. It's a bit difficult to get into, though, if they aren't really your thing. So don't expect to seamlessly drop into the ruling seat of the most powerful nation ever, unless you have some experience in such matters.

The graphics are decent, and gameplay is satisfying enough to keep you going.

80

A fun DLC

ConorEngelb | Aug. 8, 2013 | Review of BioShock Infinite: Clash in the Clouds

Clash in the Clouds adds a fun-ish arena combat system to Bioshock Infinite, which is definitely good if you enjoyed the combat. And of course you did, because it was great. My only criticism is the feeling that it could have been more substantial; maybe not with massive overhauls to gameplay, but a little more play time would have been nice.

82

Great tower defense/FPS

ConorEngelb | Aug. 8, 2013 | Review of Sanctum 2 - 4 Pack

If you're a fan of both tower defense games and first person shooters, you've probably often longed for a way to combine your two favourite genres. Sanctum 2 gives you that option.

A good, fun twist on both genres, the two modes blend together almost seamlessly.

88

Great racer

ConorEngelb | Aug. 8, 2013 | Review of Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed 4 Pack

Fun to play, Sonic Transformed is one of the few racing games that gets it right. Both exciting and challenging, the game balances tight controls with deadly corners to create a top-notch racing experience

100

Perfect Game

ConorEngelb | Aug. 8, 2013 | Review of Bioshock Infinite

Infinite is the apotheosis of the shooter genre. Building on the best bits of the first two Bioshocks, Infinite moves into a new setting, which is wonderful to behold. The graphics are amazing, the atmosphere immersive and richly detailed. Combat is tense, exciting and bloody, yet also requiring cold calculation at the same time. One of the best shooters out there, and definitely worth purchasing.

81

A good way to start

ConorEngelb | Aug. 8, 2013 | Review of Eve Online 30 Day Starter Pack - Amarr Explorer 4 Pack

It's difficult to get into EVE. The universe is full of established players, big-time businesspeople, and you're just some inexperienced pilot starting out for the first time. These starters help give you a bit of an edge in your first 30 days, maybe enough of one to let your playing start paying for itself. And EVE is best played with friends, so you can all fail together.

84

Great "rebirth" of a classic

ConorEngelb | Aug. 8, 2013 | Review of Rise of the Triad

An excellent FPS, worthy of its classic predecessor. Gameplay is smooth and enjoyable, combat twitchy and visceral; and oh so very satisfying when you get it right. Difficult to master, it's true, but that warm feeling of satisfaction makes every moment of frustration worth it.

71

Entertaining View on Politics

ConorEngelb | Aug. 7, 2013 | Review of The Political Machine 2012

Turning politicians old and current into glassy-smiled bobbleheads, the Political Machine offers a good satirical view of American politics. You need to balance your stance on various topical issues with your campaigning funds in order to win states over to your side, and defeat your opponent at the polls.

69

More love for Republics

ConorEngelb | Aug. 7, 2013 | Review of Crusader Kings II: Songs of Prosperity

Andreas Waldetoft's music is top quality. If you're going to playing as a Republic in the near future, I would suggest picking this up.

64

Great accompaniment

ConorEngelb | Aug. 7, 2013 | Review of Crusader Kings II: Songs of Faith DLC

If you enjoy occupying the skin of your characters, then you'll enjoy having some music tailored to their more religious tastes. The immersion is brings is well worth paying for.

69

Great accompaniment

ConorEngelb | Aug. 7, 2013 | Review of Crusader Kings II: Songs of Faith DLC

If you enjoy occupying the skin of your characters, then you'll enjoy having some music tailored to their more religious tastes. The immersion is brings is well worth paying for.

69

Great accompaniment

ConorEngelb | Aug. 7, 2013 | Review of Crusader Kings II: Songs of Faith DLC

If you enjoy occupying the skin of your characters, then you'll enjoy having some music tailored to their more religious tastes. The immersion is brings is well worth paying for.

69

A good addition

ConorEngelb | Aug. 7, 2013 | Review of Crusader Kings II: Songs of Byzantium

Like all the other DLC, this one is best picked up if you're going to be spending a good deal of time as the relevant ruler. The music added is of excellent quality, and well worth the price.

70

Excellent Music

ConorEngelb | Aug. 7, 2013 | Review of Crusader Kings II: Songs of Albion DLC

One of the best musical DLCs by far. The songs added make playing as English rulers infinitely more enjoyable.

66

In Russia, DLC buys you

ConorEngelb | Aug. 7, 2013 | Review of Crusader Kings II: Russian Unit Pack

If you're going to be playing as/crushing the leaders of Russia, then this is well worth the price. The generic sprites tend to feel a little lifeless, after you see everyone in the world dressed the same.

100

A Great Big Bushy Beard

ConorEngelb | Aug. 7, 2013 | Review of Crusader Kings II: Norse Portraits

Vikings have beards. This is known. Now, CK2 has the beards that the Vikings deserve. Feel like a true Viking, buy your Norse Portrait pack today!

68

Good cosmetic expansion

ConorEngelb | Aug. 7, 2013 | Review of Crusader Kings II: Mediterranean Portraits

Adding more cosmetic variety to the portraits of the world, this DLC is also especially useful when it comes to mods.

90

Excellent Immersion

ConorEngelb | Aug. 7, 2013 | Review of Crusader Kings II: Hymns to the Old Gods

In any game, especially one that you're almost certainly going to spend hundreds of hours playing, immersion is important. If you're playing as a Viking ruler, you want to feel like a Viking. Like you've got a great big bushy beard and a skull full of ale. And other Viking things. This music DLC makes you feel like a true Viking.

68

Worth it for the Celtic players

ConorEngelb | Aug. 7, 2013 | Review of Crusader Kings II: Celtic Unit Pack

This DLC adds a nice layer of immersion to the Celtic sphere of CK2, which makes playing as those nations a good deal more enjoyable.

70

An excellent set of cosmetics

ConorEngelb | Aug. 7, 2013 | Review of Crusader Kings II: Celtic Portraits

Most of my games tend to centre in Ireland/Wales, so I find this DLC to be well worth it. The portraits come with a new, Celtic twist on the original style, which is very pleasing on the eye.

66

Good, but nothing special

ConorEngelb | Aug. 7, 2013 | Review of RAGE

RAGE is weird. It wants to be a twitchy shooter, but also an open-world exploration game. Something like Borderlands, only more expansive. Unfortunately, it doesn't quite get it right. Combat is fun, but often feels like a very much on-the-rails shooter, moving down linear passages. The open-world driving somehow doesn't feel as fun as it should be.

85

Good storyline and gameplay

ConorEngelb | Aug. 7, 2013 | Review of Far Cry 2

Far Cry 2 has a good storyline, enough to give you a reason to keep moving forward and shooting more people. The gameplay feels good; landing a headshot is satisfying, as is blowing up an explosive barrel and taking out a whole group of enemies. The best aspect though is the open-world. Being able to drive around in the beautiful surroundings is truly amazing.

90

A Solid Sequel

ConorEngelb | Aug. 7, 2013 | Review of BioShock® 2

A solid sequel to Bioshock, Bioshock 2 retains many of the best things about its predecessor: the atmosphere and gameplay, while adding in new enemies and even more tension. A must-have.

90

Excellent Shooter

ConorEngelb | Aug. 7, 2013 | Review of BioShock

An excellent shooter, with a marvelous atmosphere. The ruined city of Rapture is spine-chilling. The noises coming from somewhere not quite visible, the tension building music and flickering electric lights makes for a truly terrifying atmosphere. Combat is fast-paced and exciting, but also requires some thought in terms of which abilities you use when.

84

Getting more out of your music

ConorEngelb | Aug. 7, 2013 | Review of Beat Hazard

Listening to music is pretty cool. So is playing games. But playing games based on that music is even better. Definitely worth buying, and sinking many hours into.

80

Hilarious Juxtapositioning

ConorEngelb | Aug. 7, 2013 | Review of Borderlands 2: Gunzerker Dapper Gent Pack

The juxtapositioning of this dapper outfit with the Gunzerker's gunzerker-ness is absolutely hilarious, as well worth paying for.

60

Great atmosphere, but shoddy port

ConorEngelb | Aug. 7, 2013 | Review of I AM ALIVE

The monochromatic, grainy visuals of I am Alive suit its post-apocalyptic themes perfectly. There are no colours, no wow-ing sights, which enhances the atmosphere substantially. Apart from this well-done atmosphere, however, there is little to recommend the game. The controls and general gameplay suffer from its porting to PC, making it often very difficult to successfully make your way through an area. Which is unfortunate, as I really want to like this game.

92

Beautiful and Terrifying

ConorEngelb | Aug. 7, 2013 | Review of Anna Extended Edition

The atmosphere of Anna is amazing; the graphics are beautiful, the soundtrack blends nicely with the world and the events of the story, and the imagery within the game is downright creepy at times. The puzzles serve to advance the creepiness, which is just fine. Because the creepiness is so well constructed.

74

Detailed and Fun

ConorEngelb | Aug. 7, 2013 | Review of Basketball Pro Management 2013

A detailed little basketball management simulator, along the lines of Football Manager. Only for basketball. You might like to put on your own music though, as the built in music is slightly atrocious.

68

Running on empty

ConorEngelb | Aug. 7, 2013 | Review of Assassins Creed Revelations

After 3 installments in the Assassin's Creed Franchise, Revelations feels a little stale. There's nothing new to distinguish it from its predecessors, leaving it feeling more like an over-priced DLC than a true standalone game. Worth picking up on sale, though, if you absolutely must know what happens in the story.

80

A good, fun sequel

ConorEngelb | Aug. 7, 2013 | Review of Assassins Creed Brotherhood

Brotherhood is exciting. Carrying on from AC2, the story is well-paced and blends together well with the gameplay and environment (which is beautiful to behold).

72

A Good RPG, but not as memorable

ConorEngelb | Aug. 7, 2013 | Review of ArcaniA

Arcania is a good game. The story is good, the world is fun to explore, the story enough to keep you going and the graphics are lovely to look at. However, that feeling of true freedom and memorable experiences offered by earlier installments in the Gothic Franchise is missing. Which is a pity, because Arcania could have been a real gem.

77

Good Story

ConorEngelb | Aug. 7, 2013 | Review of Alan Wake

Alan Wake tells a good horror story, with a good-looking game world and interesting characters. Quoting Stephen King gives it a definite +10 points too. However, the gameplay is more than a little frustrating at times, testament to its Xbox roots. The story, if that's your thing, is more than enough to make you forgive the slightly rubbish controls though.

81

Small, yet entertaining

ConorEngelb | Aug. 7, 2013 | Review of 10 000 000

10 000 000 isn't the biggest game in the world, nor the longest-lasting. But it is a pleasure to play, and play, and play, until it becomes repetitive, or you're ready to do whatever it is you need to do in real life. A good way to waste time, and feel good doing it.

70

The New World is a little lucklustre

ConorEngelb | Aug. 7, 2013 | Review of Assassins Creed III

The shift in setting to America is exciting. Colonial America is a location seldom visited by games, and that is a real pity. However, AC3 fails at truly bringing the world to life. It feels lucklustre and bland; almost incidental, which jars with the rest of the gaming experience.

87

Choose your own adventure

ConorEngelb | Aug. 7, 2013 | Review of Hitman: Blood Money

Blood Money lets you make the choices. Do you want to stealthily assassinate your target, getting in and out without detection, leaving hardly a trace? Or do you prefer the shoot-'em-up approach, running in and shooting everyone in front of you in the face? Because you can do both, and everything in between, and it's just as fun either way.

100

Excellent Platformer

ConorEngelb | Aug. 7, 2013 | Review of Super Meat Boy

Super Meat Boy is a fantastic gaming experience. A platformer where progress is based on your skill at handling the controls, it can be frustrating if you don't pay attention, but the feeling of self-satisfaction when you succeed is well worth it.

76

Good fun, but repetitive after a while

ConorEngelb | Aug. 7, 2013 | Review of Assassin's Creed 2 Deluxe Edition

AC2 is a good game. The gameplay is fun, the world good fun to explore and the story strings you along, keeping you interested throughout. Which is a good thing, because it means I can forgive the slightly repetitive side-missions. Good fun, worth picking up on sale.

93

Expanding an already expansive game

ConorEngelb | Aug. 7, 2013 | Review of Sid Meier's Civilization V: Brave New World

Civ 5 was expansive to begin with. Then came Gods and Kings, adding to the hours of playtime I've racked up. And now, Brave New World exponentially increases that amount. New civilisations (including the Zulu: my long-time favourites from old installments in the series), buildings and scenarios make Civ 5 even more exciting than it was before.

95

Awesomenauts is Awesome

ConorEngelb | Aug. 6, 2013 | Review of Awesomenauts 4 Pack

Awesomenauts is a great game. You could even say that it's awesome. The 2D Dota-like game is easy to get into, and spend hours playing. There's a wide range of heroes to play as, each with their own special attacks and abilities. Immensely fun to play, especially with friends.

84

Excellent Team Play

ConorEngelb | Aug. 6, 2013 | Review of Killing Floor - 4 Pack

Loads of fun, shooting zombie mutant things with your friends. The visceral feeling of shooting your monstrous enemies apart is delightfully fun, in fact. Best experienced with friends, so you have someone to boast to when you successfully blow a zombie mutant thing's head off.

84

Medieval FPS Action

ConorEngelb | Aug. 6, 2013 | Review of Chivalry - 4 Pack

The team-based multiplayer FPS genre is full of FPS's. Shooters. With guns. But, a genre that is rather underpopulated is the First Person Slasher, and Chivalry is a great way to get into this small area of gaming. Matches are exciting, and frustrating at times. Definitely worth picking up, and sharing with friends.

85

Challenging sim, but fun

ConorEngelb | Aug. 6, 2013 | Review of Lunar Flight - 4 Pack

If you can't do simulations - maybe you don't like them, maybe you just don't have the attention span - look away now. This game isn't for you. Chances are you'll end up running out of fuel, or crashing, and then hating the game forever. But if you like simulations, and space flight, this is definitely worth getting a hold of. (but watch the tutorials!) Give the extra copies to your friends; they'll love you forever.

100

Excellent Revival

ConorEngelb | Aug. 3, 2013 | Review of Tomb Raider: Legend

Legend was the revival that Angel of Darkness could have been. A brand new engine, amazing graphics, diverse locations and aesthetics, even a somewhat new story line. And a supporting cast of brilliant characters. Definitely worth buying.

65

Has potential, but let down by poor quality

ConorEngelb | Aug. 3, 2013 | Review of Tomb Raider VI: The Angel of Darkness

Angel of Darkness had the potential to revive the Tomb Raider series. Fresh graphics, new mechanics, a continuation of Lara's story. Sadly, it was let down by abominable controls and camera angles, which often left you in the lurch in awkward moments, and a companion who can't swim. Worth picking up for the sake of completion, but only if you're really feeling confident.

70

Patchy Sequel

ConorEngelb | Aug. 3, 2013 | Review of Tomb Raider V: Chronicles

Tomb Raider V tried something new: an almost serial retelling of some of Lara's past adventures provides a wide range of stories to tell, all of different styles. And quality. Some chapters were good, and enjoyable, while others were frustrating: lacking weapons or clear purpose.

100

A Spike in Quality

ConorEngelb | Aug. 3, 2013 | Review of Tomb Raider IV: The Last Revelation

Unlike Tomb Raider III, which felt like a somewhat underdone clone of its predecessors, The Last Revelation manages to provide the series with some degree of fresh air. While much of the formula remains the same, enough changes were made to the inventory and weapons to make it feel new, and more exciting.

90

Classic Gaming, but a bit repetitive

ConorEngelb | Aug. 3, 2013 | Review of Tomb Raider III

Just as good as Tomb Raiders I and II, Tomb Raider III possessed the same adventuring style, traps and puzzles that made the other games great. But by this point, the lack of major changes to the franchise was beginning to show. While it was enjoyable, the game no longer felt quite as special, or that it was pushing the envelope.

100

Classic Sequel

ConorEngelb | Aug. 3, 2013 | Review of Tomb Raider II

The sequel to the first Tomb Raider, this entry in the franchise was just as enjoyable as its predecessor. Defined by its long lasting levels and brilliant adventure gameplay, this Tomb Raider game is a true classic.

100

Classic Adventuring

ConorEngelb | Aug. 3, 2013 | Review of Tomb Raider I

The Tomb Raider franchise defined the adventure game genre for a long time and, looking at this first game, it's easy to see why. A full 3D world, full of traps, puzzles and enemies, all of varying styles and difficulties. Unlike many games today, this game lasted a long time despite the lack of a free roam option.

91

Open World is Fun

ConorEngelb | Aug. 2, 2013 | Review of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

GTA:SA was the first GTA game I played, and it impressed me. Despite the now somewhat dated graphics, the scale of the world was astounding, and the gameplay fairly exciting. The most fun is to be had free-roaming the enormous world, maybe advancing the story enough to gain access to additional areas. But the emphasis is definitely on the open world.

86

Steep learning curve, immensely fun once it's overcome

ConorEngelb | Aug. 2, 2013 | Review of Europa Universalis III Complete DNS

As with pretty much any Paradox Interactive grand strategy game ever, Europa Universalis III has a very steep learning curve, which is steepened by the dense, information-packed user interface and not very helpful tutorials. But, as with pretty much any Paradox Interactive grand strategy game ever, once you get over the learning curve, it is an experience unlike any other.

Where Crusader Kings II has you playing as a single ruler, and their dynasty, EUIII has you playing the realm. Who's in charge doesn't really matter much, so long as you are left to serve the realm itself.

Definitely worth playing, and taking the time to get into.

88

Great expansion, if challenging

ConorEngelb | Aug. 1, 2013 | Review of Crusader Kings II: The Republic

After playing as a feudal ruler for 70+ hours, trying to keep my family in power as I ruled my merchant republic was quite a change to keeping my Duke/King/Emperor alive. The ruling Patrician's chair is not hereditary; it passes to the leader of one of the Republic's merchant families who spends the most money on his campaigning. Now, in addition to keeping track of all the various plots that crop up in Crusader Kings II, you need to keep an eye on your family's standing.

The Republic DLC adds immense replayability to an already awesome game.

91

Essential DLC

ConorEngelb | Aug. 1, 2013 | Review of Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods

If you buy one CK2 DLC, make it the Old Gods. Without a doubt, the two best things to ever happen to the game are the 867 starting date and the ability to play as Pagans. I wanted to play as the Norsemen from the start, and now it's possible. At last. Worth getting, whatever the price.

85

Makes Muslim nations playable

ConorEngelb | Aug. 1, 2013 | Review of Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam

Any DLC that makes an entire group of nations playable is a DLC worth buying. And a DLC that makes the entire southern half of the map playable is definitely a DLC worth buying. The rules for playing as a Muslim ruler are slightly different, and initially quite challenging to adapt to. But it's worth it once you get it under control.

70

Alternate History is Fun

ConorEngelb | Aug. 1, 2013 | Review of Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion

Historical accuracy is always the first thing to go when starting up a game of Crusader Kings. William the Conqueror often doesn't become 'the Conqueror', instead dying of all manner of things: a wound, an accident, an "accident", or just packing up and going home for whatever reason. So, really, a gigantic horde of Aztecs landing on European shores doesn't seem all that far-fetched. It makes for a challenging fight mid-game and, in combination with the CK2+ mod (which alters the likelihood of the invasion occurring) adds an element of unpredictability.

Worth it for the fun, but you aren't missing out on anything major if you don't have this DLC.

90

Crusader Kings II is awesome; anything that adds to it is too

ConorEngelb | Aug. 1, 2013 | Review of Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome

Crusader Kings II is awesome; anything that adds to it is too. That says basically everything there is to say about this DLC. The alterations made to the Byzantine Empire make it more fun to play as than before, and the new Faction system makes it even more challenging.

Definitely worth picking up.

70

Good RPG, but buggy if unpatched

ConorEngelb | July 30, 2013 | Review of Gothic 3: Gold Edition

What sticks in my mind most from Gothic 3 is how open the world was. It was perfectly possible to go from the starting point to the frigid north, or the desert in the south (but unadvisable, because pretty much everything wants to kill you [except for the things that wouldn't unless you provoked them, which is a nice touch])

The story finds itself in the back seat a bit, with such an open world. It's possible, right up til the very end, to change your mind and essentially undo everything you may have done for any given faction in favour of another. This could sometimes, in my experience, break the story a little and leave you stuck. Gothic 3 also suffered from many bugs, some small, others potentially game-breaking. Fortunately, there are patches available to fix these.

Story: 6/10 - diverting enough for an open world RPG, but suffers because of open-ness World: 8/10 - totally open, populated with hostile, docile and in-between animals Combat: 6/10 - challenging, which is good. But a bit unresponsive and counter-intuitive at times, which isn't Overall Feel: 8/10 - the game invites you in, easy to get invested in your nameless character's life

94

Enormously Fun, Open-World

ConorEngelb | July 27, 2013 | Review of Just Cause 2

One of the most fun action games I have ever played. The world is a perfect example of an open world: you can go anywhere (and get there fairly quickly too), and in any order you want. The graphics are great, adding to the feeling that you really are in another world.

And the gameplay is an experience. Grappling your foes over the edges of buildings, parachuting off skyscrapers onto smaller skyscrapers and then stealing a military jeep as you fall to the ground. It lets you do things your way.

80

Perfect (almost) blend of stealth and action

ConorEngelb | July 27, 2013 | Review of Deus Ex: Human Revolution

The best thing about Human Revolution is that it allows you to do things however you want. Mostly. You have the choice of completing a mission as the all-guns-blazing action hero, shooting all the bad guys in the face, or as a stealthy agent, tranquilising and tazering your foes.

Two things that let the game down, however, were the scarcity of shops to buy more equipment at, and the abominable boss fights. If I'm going for a stealthy playthrough, I don't suddenly want that to be broken by having to shoot a big person in the face until they're dead, please.

72

Worth picking up on sale

ConorEngelb | July 27, 2013 | Review of Deus Ex Human Revolution: Explosive Mission Pack

It may not add much meaningful content to the game, but having access to some deadly weapons early on gives you a distinct advantage, which is worth the sale price.

80

Good, fun, and requiring some skill

ConorEngelb | July 25, 2013 | Review of They Bleed Pixels

A good, fun 2D platformer, They Bleed Pixels is. What makes it stand out is that it requires some skill (or luck) to pull off combos and survive fights. The game often points out that it favours tight controls over button-mashing, and this is certainly true: with only one attack key, your type of attack is determined by where you're facing, if you're moving and for how long you hold down the button.

90

Enormously Addictive

ConorEngelb | July 25, 2013 | Review of Sid Meier's Civilization® V

The last Civ game I played was Civilization III, which I absolutely loved. So, going into Civ V, I thought that there was no way it could be anywhere near as enjoyable. Fine, the graphics may be roughly 10 000 000 times better, but that's no indication of a good game.

I was very (to my later pleasure) wrong. Civ V surpassed Civ III, not only in graphics. The Policy Trees available to you to tailor your civilisation to your own preferences stand out. I sunk close to 10 hours into the game on my first start-up of it, and still go back regularly. It embodies the "just one more turn" mentality I last experienced playing Civ III, and does it better.

79

Unexpectedly entertaining

ConorEngelb | July 22, 2013 | Review of Farm for your Life Cap

I expected this to be the sort of game that my little sister would play when she had time to waste. But when I tried it on a whim, I found myself utterly engrossed. There's something enthralling about the balance of time-management skills, cultivation of crops and defending your land against zombies in a very Plants vs Zombies-esque manner. Definitely worth your time.

88

Both fun and intense

ConorEngelb | July 20, 2013 | Review of XCOM: Enemy Unknown

XCOM: Enemy Unknown combines turn-based strategy with tactical shooting (and a little bit of base management) to create a game that manages to be primarily based on the best of each of these. To successfully survive a mission requires tactical thinking and the strategic management of soldiers' loadouts, as well as trying not to let your troops panic and kill each other in the middle of combat.

80

The best games let you fill in the gaps

ConorEngelb | July 20, 2013 | Review of Dear Esther

The best games are those that give you freedom. From a gameplay perspective, Dear Esther does not give you any freedom. However, it gives a type of freedom seldom given by a game: the chance to draw your own conclusions as to the nature of the story. The mysterious story is painted by a narration, over your exploration of a beautiful island; glowing caves, enormous waterfalls, towering aerials, abandoned huts. The visuals are aided by a fantastic soundtrack: sound effects blended with non-intrusive music make for an artistic game.

86

Excellent Co-Op Gaming

ConorEngelb | July 18, 2013 | Review of Borderlands Game of the Year Edition

The very first time I played Borderlands was with a group of friends, and I do not regret deciding to join in. The game lends itself perfectly to 4 person play, even if two of you absolutely insist on being snipers. The DLCs add some good fun stories and items. And the unlimited number of guns makes it worth buying.

74

Looking Sharp

ConorEngelb | July 18, 2013 | Review of Borderlands 2: Assassin Stinging Blade Pack

Worth the not-overly-extravagant price (especially on sale) because these Stinging Blades leave Zero looking sharp. Forgive the pun.

71

A steep learning curve, but worth it

ConorEngelb | July 16, 2013 | Review of Supreme Ruler: Cold War

As with most of Paradox's grand strategy games, Supreme Ruler: Cold War throws you in the deep end, with no real help from the tutorials or user interface. However, once you get on top of how to manage a nation - build up supply lines, research technologies, try not to anger the world powers - the game really begins to shine. As the USA or USSR, nothing is more tempting than that big red button that lets you launch a nuclear strike (and the blaring alarm that plays when you press it makes sure you know exactly what you just did). The trick, after understanding the game, is to not press that button. Seriously. Don't do it.

67

Fun but flawed

ConorEngelb | July 15, 2013 | Review of Mount & Blade: With Fire and Sword

With Fire & Sword has several welcome additions to a game otherwise very similar to Warband: 1) more advanced tactics - "fire a volley", "fire at will", more control over your troops' formations 2) firearms with a good balance between deadliness and being unwieldy (many cannot be wielded while on horseback) 3) a "main quest" of sorts 4) to hire skilled soldiers for your party, you'll need to visit a Mercenary Camp: no longer can a group of peasants from a village in the middle of nowhere become universally feared axe wielding Huscarls However, it gets some things wrong/misses some aspects that made Warband the superior game: 1) in the hands of the enemy, firearms seem a shade too accurate. If I can't make the shot most of the time, then don't make the AI expert marksmen (unless they are actually expert marksmen) 2) the shift to our world, while familiar, is a little bland. Adapting the story for Warband's Calradia would have made it feel a little more enjoyable 3) at one point, I could not progress in the main quest because the rest just wouldn't happen. Ever.

80

DLC done right

ConorEngelb | July 15, 2013 | Review of Crusader Kings II: Ruler Designer DLC

The Ruler Designer for Crusader Kings II is DLC done right. It's addition to the game is not vital to a playthrough and possibly won't appeal to everyone: playing as a real character from history is part of the vanilla game's fun. However, there is a lot to be said for constructing your own dynasty, and shaping the personality of its founder while not being given free reign: good or useful traits bump up your character's age substantially, but bad or detrimental traits lower it somewhat. It's all about finding the balance. (for added fun, make your character insane and possessed. You may not live long, but some of the related events are quite amusing)

90

One of the best RTS's around ,even today

ConorEngelb | July 11, 2013 | Review of Empire Earth: Gold Edition

Navigating human history from the Prehistoric era to the distant future is daunting. And seldom happens because you're usually crushing your enemies skulls by the time you have decent weapons technology (which happens when clubs become maces). The campaigns are challenging but accessible; there are some moments of heart-pounding tension, but they seldom become heart attack inducing moments of frustration. (and the German Campaign allows you to invade the United Kingdom in the end game of World War Two, in an alternate history scenario: who wouldn't want to do that?)

By far the best part of the game, however, is the scenario editor. Events are easy to script, as long as you can figure out what "if/else" means, and you can even import US government elevation data to get your map looking exactly like the real world. Creating your own campaign, complete with voice-over and cinematics is enormously satisfying, if a little time consuming.

72

Good fun, if a little frustrating

ConorEngelb | July 11, 2013 | Review of Magicka

Magicka is a good game. The story line serves its purpose: giving you a reason to go off on your quest. The characters are well-written and humorous: Vlad "Totally NOT a Vampire" appears every now and then to tell you what to do next. The combat system is clever and fun to use: experimenting with combinations of elements can either yield a deadly beam of energy, or make you incredibly vulnerable to you enemy's next attack. And the dialogue is generally quite humorous, full of pop culture references (achievement for killing 1000 enemies with firearms is called "I'm a Lead Farmer") and snarky comments ("Loading Screen Tip: Loading screens sometimes contain tips") However, all these good parts don't mesh together very well. Combat is satisfying, but after your tenth attempt to get past the heavily armoured troll you start to wonder "why bother?". Your progress isn't saved as often as you would like, so dying at the hands of said troll will force you to kill all the orcs that came before it. And their friends.

Despite this, overall, Magicka is an entertaining game, despite it's flawed combat and saving systems.

96

The Perfect Sandbox

ConorEngelb | July 11, 2013 | Review of Mount & Blade: Warband

The best games don't limit you. They say "Here's a world. Do stuff" and throw you into the thick of things. Mount and Blade: Warband does exactly this, but it's 100% enjoyable every step of the way. A few short tutorial missions (hire some men, kill these bandits, then those bandits) give you the basic idea, then the game lets you do whatever you want. Do you want to become a mercenary, selling your sword to the highest bidder? Or swear fealty to the rightful lord of Calradia and help them win their wars? You could also side with a usurper, and install them as a ruler of a kingdom, or start your own. If combat isn't your thing, make your fortune (or try, at least) trading across the 5 kingdoms, buying low and selling high. Some of the controls are a little bit counter-intuitive (button mashing can cause you to drop your weapon), but combat works well, with blocking blows dependent upon the direction they're coming from. Battles between parties allow the use of some basic tactics: move your spearman to the front to break a cavalry charge, while your archers fire volleys into the approaching foes.

Definitely worth the buy, if your idea of a good game is one in which you are given free reign.

90

Expansive and Entertaining, with a splash of humour

ConorEngelb | July 11, 2013 | Review of Galactic Civilizations II: Ultimate Edition

This is my kind of game: slow-moving, methodical, requires forward-planning. Imagine a Sid Meier's Civ game set in space, only with alien races instead of civilisations. For me, the best part is designing my own civilisation. What benefits they get (hyper-intelligent, lucky super breeder, thank you oh so very much), what my politic party is (universalists: because I want to conquer the universe), choosing a portrait (fluffy teddy bear, obviously) and finally a name (Fluffy Teddy Bears of DOOM). Colonising planets in your efforts to gain dominion over the galaxy brings some moral quandaries in the form of random events: do you enslave or relocate the unevolved locals? What about those highly evolved deadly sea creatures? The ethical scale brings with it some bonuses for being extremely good, evil or a masterful fence-sitter.

99

Guns, guns and more guns. And the perfect blend of FPS and RPG

ConorEngelb | July 11, 2013 | Review of Borderlands 2

Any game that contain an endless supply of new guns is a game you have to play. At least once. Do other games have guns that explode in your enemies' faces when you reload? How about guns that talk to you? Or make the world's most irritating noises? (admittedly, that last one isn't exactly a plus. -1% from my final score for that one, Gearbox) The blend of FPS and RPG gets it just right: shoot enough things to become better at shooting things. Or hitting things. Or both. Your choice, really. And I like any game that gives me choice.

84

Highly enjoyable, but not Morrowind

ConorEngelb | July 5, 2013 | Review of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Nexway

For me, no Elder Scrolls game will ever match Morrowind in terms of open-ness, excitement and strangeness. From the moment you step off the boat and see the huge Silt Strider, that game paints a fantasy world that breaks from typical high fantasy and invites you in. Oblivion was disappointing in this regard: too typical medieval fantasy. But Skyrim goes a long way to make up for that. Caverns full of glowing blue mushrooms and beast races that actually look beast-like are definite throwbacks to Morrowind.

After a couple of hundred hours, things do start to feel a little repetitive though. There are only so many dragons you can kill before asking "why?" and wandering off to chase butterflies. Fortunately, the modding scene adds even more to a game that is not lacking much. So, better than Oblivion (because Nords are awesome), but not as good as Morrowind (because giant ticks that you can ride from town to town are even awesome-er)

92

Frustrating when you mess up, satisfying when you succeed

ConorEngelb | July 5, 2013 | Review of Dishonored Nexway -

One thing I learned about myself playing Dishonored: I get very, very frustrated very, very quickly. I've lost count of the number of times I've set myself up for the perfect stealthy escape, only to have it blow up in my face because I forgot to keep an eye on the guard having a smoke break. But when you successfully navigate an area, or complete an assassination, without triggering any alarms... few things are as satisfying.

The range of arcane powers and steampunky devices available to you isn't enormous, but a handful of things have many more combinations. Experimenting with possession and arc mines, or blinking and exploding whale oil canisters, to make events look "accidental" gives a whole other dimension to the game.

88

Open World Fun

ConorEngelb | July 5, 2013 | Review of Grand Theft Auto IV

I tried to be interested in Niko's story, but I just didn't really care about what happened to him. I tried, I promise, but it just sort of fell a little flat for me. But that's okay, because I found more than enough enjoyment in the open world of Liberty City to make up for that. I've spent hours running around, stealing cars and causing havoc across the city (bring friends! It makes things even more enjoyable: can you say deathmatch at the airport?) and even more hours trying to drive sensibly, getting irritated because someone was going too slowly, pulling up next to them and emptying a magazine into the driver's side window.

The driving feels authentic, and most of the weapons are satisfying to use. A few, though, feel slightly wooden in Niko's hands, with no real sense of feedback. But that too, like the story not grabbing my interest, is perfectly okay because I still get to shoot people to vent my frustrations.

95

Gaming as an artform

ConorEngelb | July 5, 2013 | Review of The Walking Dead

The absolute best part of this game is the story. It elevates this computer game to a work of art, playing on your feelings and really testing your moral centre. Within 10 minutes of starting the game, I had to pause and walk around the house for another 10 minutes, contemplating how I was going to react to the situation in-game. And I still don't sleep well as a result of it. No other game, to my knowledge, tests your morals in this way. A+ writing, definitely worth picking it up.

96

Strategy gaming at it's finest

ConorEngelb | July 5, 2013 | Review of Crusader Kings II

Never before in my gaming history have I felt so despondent as when my son died leaving me with my daughter, stuck in a marriage that ended our bloodline, my sole surviving heir. Crusader Kings II is full of such moments, but while they can be frustrating, they can also be highly satisfying when manipulated to expand your borders. While the learning curve is rather steep, and the tutorial of not very much help at all, once you get the hang of things (or at least a vague idea as to what you're doing), you'll know your time was well spent. Probably. Unless your son dies. But that daughter's husband is such a tempting assassination target, isn't he? After all, when you play the game of thrones you win or you die.

75

Great story and aesthetics, let down by bland world

ConorEngelb | July 5, 2013 | Review of Mafia II Complete Pack steam

Mafia II tells a great story, one that gives you reasons to care about Vito and his friends and not just expecting it of you. And it does so in a world that, on first glance, feels very authentic and lovely to look at and listen to: the radio soundtracks and montages of Mafioso activities made the game. The game plays well; combat is smooth and, mostly, doesn't push you into a situation with almost no way of winning. However, it's let down by the emptiness of the world. Empire Bay is gorgeous and feels alive, but there's not much for you to do there, apart from advance the storyline. I would have liked to be able to go wandering off and start shootouts with rival gangs, or make money on my own time. Apart from that, Mafia II is a great game.