Reviews by LSD


Hundreds of hours of fun

LSD | Dec. 20, 2014 | Review of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion Game of the Year Edition Deluxe

Oblivion was the first RPG game i played, and i absolutely loved it. If you've played a Bethesda game before, you'll know exactly what to expect -- and when i say "exactly", i mean "precisely", because every game since Oblivion has been more-or-less a copy & paste experience. If you haven't, though, then Oblivion is the perfect place to start. The graphics are fantastic, if a little dated (and severely over-saturated), and the gameplay is 100% the same as the recent Bethesda titles, which means there's no need to be put off by the fact the game is over 8 years old.

The game is essentially a huge open world comprised of 9 large cities and hundreds of individual settlements, dungeons, ruins and forts; and to go with those hundreds of locations are dozens upon dozens of quests -- some of them intricate questlines, others short side-missions.

The world is interesting and varied, the characters are numerous and life-like, the quests are all good fun, the story is fantastic... ...sadly, however, the the level system is severely flawed.

The level system is just awful, forcing you to min-max to avoid being hampered, as the game levels all foes up with the player, while also forgoing the use of experience -- instead granting level progress based on your usage of skills. The flaw with this is that if the skill-ups you received weren't combat-related, you can't level up combat-attributes, meaning you'll be facing levelled up foes with stats that might not be able to match their abilities.

It's still a fantastic game, but the level system really drags it down.


One of the best stealth games ever made

LSD | Dec. 20, 2014 | Review of Hitman: Contracts

Contracts is something of a remake of the previous 2 Hitman games, with some levels being completely re-made locations, and others including characters or targets from the other games.

Though the game's around 10 years old, it still stands up well for modern audiences. The stealth is top-notch, and the number of ways to approach each missions is both varied and detailed. Contracts also retains the difficulty of previous Hitman games that Blood Money dropped, meaning the missions require a lot of thought, and even some planning in order to succeed.

Interestingly, this is probably the darkest Hitman game to date, and that's not just because every mission takes place at night (with most of them being in rainy whether, which creates an incredible atmosphere). The first level involves escaping an asylum filled with corpses (the same asylum as the first Hitman ends in), and other locations are just as grim: without spoiling too much, there's a girl kidnapped and held captive in a slaughterhouse hosting an S&M-themed party, a boy kidnapped by an aristocratic family to be used as sport for a group of hunters, and a modern hotel with a closed-off wing that was host to a gruesome murder.


Really showing its age...

LSD | Dec. 20, 2014 | Review of Hitman 2: Silent Assassin

Being around 12 years old, the game's mostly only fun for nostalgia's sake (and for its difficult missions). There aren't as many memorable missions in Silent Assassin, and a lot of missions are somewhat one-dimensional in how you're able to complete them. The story is a bit all-over-the-place, as well. If you've never played it before, but have played the more recent Hitman titles, coming back to such an old title will be pretty difficult.


High-point of the series

LSD | Dec. 20, 2014 | Review of Hitman: Blood Money

Blood Money is definitely the high-point of the Hitman series. The difficulty is severely reduced in comparison to previous titles, but everything else is a major improvement. The locations are more life-like, and much more open-ended in how you can complete your goals. There's such a huge variety of weapons, 5 of which can be customised with around 20 upgrades per weapon.

As said though, the difficulty has been severely ramped down. Things like sneak movement speed have been increased to the point that you're much faster than any enemy's movement speed (making sneak kills super-easy).

It's still one of the best stealth games released, and nothing has ever come close since (with recent "stealth" games being closer to third person shooters than stealth games).


Doesn't add much to the series

LSD | Nov. 28, 2014 | Review of Tropico 4

I played quite a bit of Tropico 3, and compared to it, 4 doesn't seem like much of an improvement. In fact, it feels more like an expansion than a full game. The added features and improvements can be counted on one hand (in fact, they're all listed under "key features"). Sadly, for each improvement comes a new issue. The game still uses the same engine (and the same buildings), but somehow both runs and looks worse than its predecessor. The View Distance is improved, but small building details have been totally removed to compensate. The game no longer slows to a crawl as your population booms, but instead runs rather poorly throughout, no matter the number of people on your island.

The handful of new options and buildings are nice, but rather poorly implemented, while old bugs still exist.

If you've played a lot of 3 (and its expansion), 4 isn't much of an improvement. Otherwise, i'd highly recommend the game.


Flawed, but incredibly good

LSD | Sept. 20, 2014 | Review of Assassin's Creed

The environments are huge, getting around them is incredibly fun, and the combat is the absolute best in the series. Though I never really liked the over-arching storyline, the individual story of the character you play as is well written and interesting.

The main flaws are that the game is repetitive (as others have said) and that the stealth elements are almost non-existent. There are 3 cities divided into 3 districts (separated by the outlands, which you can also explore). Each target resides in one district. For each district, you have to do 3-5 side-missions to be able to assassinate the target. These side-missions are almost all copy-and-pasted into each district, making completing the game almost a grind.

The other major flaw is the main character. Though the dialogue is great, the voice actor for the main character is...awful. For some reason Ubisoft decided to make him speak with an American accent, instantly ruining any sense of immersion: while the supporting characters tell you about your mission in an arabic-ish accent, your character replies with a monotonous, droning American accent that's so obviously out of place. On top of that, he's white. You know, like an American person might be. Obviously Ubisoft wanted to appeal to a specific audience, but it really mars what could have been an interesting character by having him be yet another white American action hero...with a dull voice.


Definitely a must-have expansion

LSD | March 6, 2014 | Review of Hearts of Iron III: Their Finest Hour

Their Finest Hour adds so much to the base game. The elite units add to the game's variety, while also offering new strategic options. Each nation's elite unit has its own special traits to set it apart from the normal infantry (and to make up for their increased cost). For example, British Ghurkas are tougher than regular infantry, while German SS troops are better at putting down partisan uprisings with their improved "suppression" stat.

The traits system for leaders is incredibly good fun. Though it's a huge hassle individually assigning leaders (made worse by the fact the game accesses a 50MB folder of 18,000 individual portraits EVERY TIME you want to choose a leader, which has to be done for EVERY SINGLE unit and HQ), it's still an incredibly important part of gameplay. Leaders gain traits based on everything they do -- fighting in forests, for example, eventually leads to the Ranger trait, which reduces the penalty for fighting in such terrain. It adds a great deal to the game, and it's great fun making great leaders out of low-skilled commanders. TFH is definitely worth picking up!


A bit hit-and-miss, but still a must-have

LSD | March 6, 2014 | Review of Hearts of Iron III: Semper fi

Semper Fi is the first expansion for HoI3, and is a requirement for further expansions to work with the base game -- it's therefore a "must-have", in that you absolutely have to get this expansion for the other (much more important) expansions to work with the game.

Personally, most of the HQ-related features are meaningless to me, since they only apply if you're playing with AI controlled military (and i prefer to manually control my military). I don't use the diplomatic actions added by Semper Fi either, since they're very limited in their applications: sharing tech experience is very costly, and doesn't offer much to your allies, while giving allies objectives are very hit-and-miss, since the AI has its own agenda and rarely follows your orders.

Definitely the most important aspects are the improved AI (for obvious reasons), the new map mode (which is incredibly important when conducting air battles and defending your territory against bomber squadrons), and the ability to upgrade units. The last feature is definitely a favourite, as it allows you to authentically upgrade your military: for example, taking an existing infantry regiment with artillery, and upgrading them to motorised infantry with self-propelled guns, allowing them to utilise the increased movement speed while retaining their existing experience. Definitely worth picking up!


More variety for a major nation

LSD | March 6, 2014 | Review of Hearts of Iron III: Italian Vehicles Unit Pack

The pack contains some truly unique units. No other faction fields anything close to these unique (and very nicely modelled) units, so this pack is definitely worth picking up if you'd like more variety in the game world. Italy is probably the most under-played of the major nations, so this unit pack definitely gives an incentive to play as them.


An absolute must-have for HoI players

LSD | March 6, 2014 | Review of Hearts of Iron III: For the Motherland

For the Motherland is one of the proper expansions for the game, and as such, is absolutely necessary for players. The strategic resources and partisans are definitely the most important features. Strategic resources make taking territory a tactically rewarding part of gameplay. Different parts of the world feature different resources, such as materials and industry. Tungsten, for example, improves armour piercing units of the faction with access to the resource. It also vastly improves diplomacy, as nations aligned with your own faction can share their resources with you. The partisan system is incredibly fun, and allows nations who are quickly "destroyed" to continue to fight. It's truly fantastic to build partisan underground systems in countries you intend to liberate, allowing you to wreak havoc behind enemy lines. Partisans also make it more important to police your conquests, to prevent the above from taking place. Definitely worth buying!


More variety for a major part of the game

LSD | March 6, 2014 | Review of Hearts of Iron III: British Vehicle Pack

It's great to finally have some unique sprites for one of the most-played factions in the game. Though there aren't that many units in the pack, it's still fantastic for anyone wanting more variety -- especially since the majority of the factions in the game have some form of interaction with Britain's military, meaning that even if you don't choose to play as this particular faction, you'll still see the units on the map. It's a decent price for what it offers, too!


One of the lesser sprite packs for the game

LSD | March 6, 2014 | Review of Hearts of Iron III: Axis Minor Vehicle Pack

The Axis Minors are the smaller Axis countries in the game, which are very poorly fleshed out in the game -- this pack attempts to alleviate that by making their units look more varied. I personally don't play the Minor factions, since they're just not as interesting as the larger factions. Still, even as if you're not playing as a Minor, you'll still see these units on the map, which makes the game world more interesting.


The best, yet most buggy strategy sim

LSD | March 6, 2014 | Review of Hearts of Iron III

HoI 3 is probably the best strategy sim i've played. Paradox are known for such games, and though they're all incredibly fun, HoI 3 is definitely my favourite, due in-part to its authenticity, variety and depth (which makes up for its small scope). It's probably the most difficult Paradox game to get into, but it's incredibly rewarding to play. With all the DLC, it's truly fantastic seeing units change in appearance on the map as they're upgraded through the deep tech tree -- tanks evolve, infantry weapons and uniforms change, planes alter their designs... So why only 60/100? Because the game is still in an awfully broken state. Paradox created one of the best strategy games ever, and yet from release to the present day, it's been a broken mess. The last patch for the game was almost 2 years ago, and the game still has incredibly prevalent crashes and a severe memory leak -- issues that don't exist in other Paradox games, which utilise the same game engine. It's a horrible shame, because it's truly a fantastic game.


A great Paradox strategy game

LSD | Feb. 10, 2014 | Review of Europa Universalis III Chronicles

EU III Chronicles is a truly great strategy game, though it's showing its age a little when compared with some of Paradox's newer strategy games. The expansion packs included in the Chronicles edition are an absolute MUST HAVE, and add an incredible amount of detail to the western nations of the game. The only issues i have with EU III are that picking a non-major power is rather boring, and if you pick a non-Western nation that isn't huge, you can expect an incredibly tedious experience. I suppose the clue is in the name (EUROPA), but besides Japan which has been fleshed out with the Divine Wind expansion, non-Western nations are completely bland, and receive all of their events as direct copy + pastes from the Western nations. It's still a great game, but i'd have liked to have been able to play, say, a Native American nation without having to spend just over half the game doing absolutely nothing at all.


Awful, unless you're a completionist

LSD | Feb. 10, 2014 | Review of Total War: Shogun 2 - Sengoku Jidai Unit Pack

This pack was a massive let down. Besides the Wako Raiders, all the units are simply copy + pasted units from the game with slightly altered stats and silly building requirements. Bulletproof samurai? Simply normal samurai units from the game with 3 points more armour. They're just as resistant as any other unit with similar armour. The only unit from this pack that sees any use is the Daikyu Samurai, which is a slightly upgraded version of the normal Chosokabe bow units in the game. In short, avoid this unless you're desperate or some kind of completionist. It doesn't add variety to the game world, and the units are almost entirely useless. You'd be better off with a mod-pack...


Perhaps the best Total War to date

LSD | Feb. 5, 2014 | Review of Medieval II: Total War

This is probably the closest The Creative Assembly have come to a perfect Total War game. The variety is tremendous. Different cultures have different buildings and castle types, all of which you can see in the flesh on the battle map (which recent TW games have stopped providing us with). There's also a great RPG-like system for generals, with them gaining traints, followers and moral allegiance throughout a campaign. There's so much to do in Medieval, that other TW games pale in comparison. So why only a score of 88? Because the pathfinding is very buggy in siege battles, and because some of the features don't feel properly fleshed out -- princesses, for example, don't feel as well thought out as other features of the game. It's still an absolutely fantastic game, though.


Shallow, monotonous, and highly over-rated

LSD | Feb. 5, 2014 | Review of Sid Meier’s Civilization® V

It's one of the most over-rated games i've played. I love strategy games of all types, and i'd heard a lot about Civ V -- a lot of which turned out to be lies. It's neither deep nor interesting, and is simply monotonous and boring. Most of the game feels poorly fleshed out, and requires very little thought to play -- especially since the AI is absolutely horrendous. The expensive expansion packs really improve the gameplay, and bring the game's score up to a 7/10, but without the DLC, this game is absolutely terrible. It's as though the game was released way too early...