Reviews by Korrd

75

Co-op FPS Tower Defense? Yes, please.

Korrd | Sept. 2, 2011 | Review of Sanctum

Sanctum takes the venerable tower defense genre and adds in a genre-bending first person perspective. First you build your towers and construct a gauntlet to channel your enemies, and then, when the assault comes, hop straight into the action and shoot some baddies yourself. It sounds like a natural combination, and Sanctum succeeds in making it work.

Sanctum now also supports four-player cooperative play, so there's even more fun to be had in multiplayer. They even added the brilliant ability to help pay for turrets; if a player tries to build or upgrade a tower and doesn't have sufficient funds, another player can pitch in the remainder.

I prefer the tower selection of Defense Grid and certain other games, but Sanctum still manages to present all the necessities, even though some towers do seem far more versatile than others. The variety of towers and weapons is probably the game's greatest shortcoming--second perhaps to a rather bland selection of enemies--but thankfully that doesn't prevent it from being enjoyable, especially when playing with friends.

At under $10US, it's well worth the cost of entry for fans of tower defense games.

40

I'd Hesitate To Call It Terrible, But It Is

Korrd | Sept. 2, 2011 | Review of Duke Nukem Forever

DNF could have been... well, it could have been better. I won't say it could have been a great game, because that's perhaps a somewhat unrealistic expectation. What we got, though, didn't even come close to living up to potential.

I wasn't offended by DNF. Quite the contrary: we all knew what to expect of him. I think in that regard, Duke's attitude and behavior just weren't interesting. We all knew who and what Duke was 15 years ago. Unfortunately for DNF, that's really all he brought to the table.

Duke Nukem 3D was a groundbreaking game. It employed a lot of features that hadn't been seen before. I remember being amazed and delighted to look at a TV screen and see other parts of a level in real time, or laying a pipebomb minefield to kill a friend in LAN, of shrink-raying bad guys and squishing them under a boot. These were brilliant gameplay elements that made me look at games in a whole new way.

Fast to forward to DNF, and all we got is a rehash. Nothing really new to speak of, just the old stuff regurgitated, and all of Duke's eccentricities brought center stage, as though that was all DN3D was about and all Duke has to offer. Hell, maybe it is. Maybe those great features I loved in DN3D were just accidents and it really was just about Duke and chicks and dirty jokes. Maybe the game, like Duke himself, really never had the potential to be anything more.

Or maybe the Duke torch was picked up by people who lacked the creativity to do anything interesting with him, and we got stuck with DNF as a result.

Either way, I committed a gaming sin while playing DNF: I couldn't even bring myself to finish it.

60

Simple Fun (Unless You Get Motion Sickness)

Korrd | Sept. 2, 2011 | Review of Zombie Driver

Zombie Driver is the kind of game you fire up when you've got an hour or so to kill--mow down hordes of zombies with an assortment of weapons and various vehicle bumpers before dinner or homework or putting the kids to bed. It's quite mindless, but it's entertaining for short periods. I imagine it'd get repititive after a while, but this is a budget game with pretty limited scope. Enjoy it for what it is.

I, unfortunately, couldn't even do that much, since Zombie Driver triggered some sort of weird motion sickness. That's not at all typical for me--I like rollercoasters and rocking boats and have been an avid gamer for decades--but something about the camera perspective messed with my vision enough to make me dizzy and queasy after about 15 minutes.

Quite an oddity, and I'm sure your mileage will vary. Just a head's up to anyone sensitive to those symptoms.

85

Worth The Price Just For The Rogue Robe

Korrd | Sept. 2, 2011 | Review of Magicka: Party Robes DLC

Party Robes ended up being my favorite DLC released for Magicka thus far (with the exception of Vietnam, which is a much more robust release than Magicka's typical DLC).

The tank robe absorbs incredible amounts of damage, but moves absurdly slow; you may find yourself falling behind and off screen if your friends charge ahead. I found the support robe rather middling and awkward, as it requires you be close in to your enemies to buff the damage applied to them, but since you're not terribly resilient that can be dangerous. By far my preference goes to the rogue robe (or 'rouge' if you've one of those people), which makes you much faster than normal and adds two really fun abilities: the poison crossbow and smoke bomb, which teleports you backward a short distance. It's great for quick escapes when enemies get too close. The drawback: you're quite a bit more fragile and can get squished very easily.

Party Robes add a few more options for those looking to employ varying play styles. If you're already a fan of Magicka, it's a worthy purchase.

70

Get It On Sale For The Map

Korrd | Sept. 2, 2011 | Review of Magicka: Final Frontier DLC

DLC like this is a bit of a mixed bag for me; the little extras are nice and all, but are they really worth the cost of admission? Maybe at around a dollar (sales, discount codes?), but for $2.99 I'd have to say probably not.

Here you get a new versus and challenge map, a new Trek-flavored robe, and a phaser. I generally find cosmetic items kind of useless, so the robe doesn't really do anything special for me. The phaser, in my experience, kind of sucked; it didn't seem to do much damage, which makes it also largely cosmetic. The map ends up being the greatest addition to gameplay.

I'm tempted to rate this lower because it lacks in the content/functionality department, but I am a fan of Magicka and--let's face it--phasers are pretty cool. Thus, a fairly generous 70/100.

95

Finally A Worthy Successor

Korrd | Aug. 30, 2011 | Review of Deus Ex: Human Revolution

After I saw DX:HR at PAX East 2011, I had my doubts about it. I decided to gamble after seeing the overwhelmingly positive initial review scores, and that gamble has paid off. While it's not without flaws, DX:HR is overall a satisfying experience and a worthy tribute to the original game.

First, let's get the negatives out of the way. The AI is obviously limited. Alerted guards search just so far, then give up. They often glaringly fail to secure an area before declaring it clear. It's a wonder these clandestine groups achieve any measure of success, given their apparent ineptitude. But then, this is a game, and maybe such shortcomings can excused on occasion. Of course, when an NPC returns to patrol right next to his now-dead cohort--complete with gaping head wound--and seems to think everything is perfectly normal, well... it's leaves a bit to be desired.

Voice acting is another spotty area, with some actors putting in well-rounded performances and others falling short. For the most part, the main characters are all believably voiced, and most of the poor performances are quite brief. There are a couple annoying accents you can't seem to escape, but that may just be a personal gripe. Your mileage may vary.

Character animation is a bit stiff, particularly during dialogues, with characters often performing the same gestures repeatedly. One NPC seemed to have her forearms stitched to her waist and just kind of jostled her hands about. Another looked like he kept wanting to karate-chop the camera. It can be jarring when you're immersed in the story to be reminded that these aren't people, just animated characters. Lip-syncing could also be better.

My other concerns--the cover system, hacking--were allayed before long. Cover plays an integral part in gameplay and mimics systems found in previous games and, to my delight, works very well for the most part. It's a bit odd that a passing NPC won't notice me six inches from his face as he strolls by, but that's again a limitation of the AI for the sake of playability, so I suppose we can let it slide--begrudgingly. Hacking computers and devices is probably the best and most sensible implementation I've seen in any game thus far, and luckily there's a decent amount of variety, so it rarely feels tedious.

The story--the essential core of any Deus Ex--does the original game proud. It's full of intrigue and plot twists to keep the die-hard fans interested. Combat ups the ante of the original, providing a smoother--and notably prettier--experience. The addition of takedowns is particularly entertaining, and while normally I don't like to be taken out of control of the character, here I think it's justified; these maneuvers feel essential before long, and would be quite awkward in first person. Plus, they're damned satisfying.

Weapons are suitably varied and interesting with plenty of options in both the lethal and non-lethal departments. Inventory management plays a part in the arsenal at your disposal--since you can only carry so much--but I never felt limited in my tactical options. Quite the opposite, in fact; I carried heavier weapons just in case, but rarely used them and could easily have done without. I found I used the same two guns for about 95% of engagements. That's not a complaint--I just really loved those guns.

And finally, augmentations--the cornerstone of Deus Ex--provide you several options to build the badass of your choice. By the end I had all the augs I wanted and was thrilled with most of them. From jumping off of buildings and landing gracefully to waltzing past past cameras while cloaked to taking down pairs of baddies with a few well-coordinated--and decidedly brutal--attacks, it all built toward a fully-realized, fully-augmented, and super-human Adam Jensen.

In the end, I felt a bit like I was playing the original game again. The story unfolds at a similar pace, the weapons are familiar, the augs, the upgrades, it all took me back to that cherished experience from a decade earlier. Human Revolution captures the essence of the first Deus Ex in spades. For those still on the fence about purchasing, allow me to give you that final nudge: if you've waited a decade for a worthy successor to Deus Ex, the wait is over.

Just no sword this time around.