Reviews by Locke
A solid sequelLocke | Nov. 15, 2014 | Review of LEGO® The Hobbit™
Review originally posted on Steam.
LEGO The Hobbit is, first and foremost, a LEGO game. There isn't a great deal different from other LEGO titles, in both bad and good ways. If you've tried LEGO games before and found them dull, I don't think this one will change your mind, but if you have an obsession for collection, this game will probably serve you well.
First of all, some gripes. I really don't like how the game forces you to come back later and re-do things when you already have the means to complete them at your disposal, simply locked away. It takes advantage of a child's endless appetite for repetition (Pokemon, anyone?), but as an adult it gets frustrating at times. And speaking of frustrating, the game has some bugs too. I've had characters get stuck, once even in a game-breaking way in the middle of a story mission that locked out all buttons but Start and forced me to quit. The physics on hills and edges get weird sometimes and prevent you from jumping, which can sometimes lead to the stuck thing or lead to death in the middle of a jumping puzzle. I would also get random crashes for a while, which was fixed by turning off Raptr's integration completely, even the Track Gameplay part (the only part I actually use). And the end of the game cuts off at a really bad time, though that's not entirely their fault, since from what I understand the movie does too. Perhaps they should have waited for the third movie to come out to release this. Hopefully they put out some DLC to add in the final climax. It's literally only missing the last chapter or two from the book.
Now that I've gotten that out of the way, the game is still fun. It's still cathartic to beat up LEGO objects and watch them explode into fountains of loot and studs. The gradual ramp of power and wealth starts to get quite high near the end, and I feel a bit Smaug looking over my vast collection of items and riches. Okay, I admit that pun was terrible. Moving on. None of the missions, quests, or puzzles are particularly difficult or complex, but are still fun nonetheless. Suitably accessible for a child but still enjoyable for an adult, a good balance. I'm about 28 hours in and I still haven't gotten tired of it. The bits of humor injected into the game here and there are a nice touch as well. My favorite gag is Azog's missing hand actually following him around and constantly taunting him. Great way to add flavor to the original movie script. And the voice acting clips taken from the movie are a nice touch to telling the story as well, as opposed to the silent approach of early LEGO games.
By no means is LEGO The Hobbit without flaws, but if you're a fan of Traveller's Tales style of collect-a-thon games, this will be a shining Arkenstone in your collection. I picked it up for $5 on sale and more than got my money's worth out of it. Again, if you're tired of the LEGO formula or just really hate Tolkien it's probably a safe pass, but for everyone else, I'd definitely recommend giving it a try.
A console port that sadly isn't worth your time.Locke | July 15, 2014 | Review of Hyper Fighters
As an arcade game with some neat hardware gimmick, no expectation of modern graphics (or graphics options, for that matter), and the ability to walk away after putting in a quarter or two, this might just possibly not be completely terrible. Unfortunately, it is.
This game is by Team 6 Studios, who also brought you Glacier 3: The Meltdown, another terrible game that bears many of the same hallmarks as this one. Not only does it not give you the option to change the controls, it doesn't even tell you what they are. From what I understand both these games are ported from the Wii, where a digital manual is available from the Home screen at any time, but frankly that's no excuse for at the very least making that information available in some form. The game is locked at a very low resolution, and the screenshots look much nicer than anything you'll ever see in-game.
As far as gameplay, I came hoping for a Star Fox, but got nothing of the sort. Bland enemies, awful flight physics, uninteresting levels, and the requirement to both move the plane and aim the gun (which I imagine was originally designed to work with the Wii's pointer functionality) just doesn't do the game any favors. There's no controller support in this bare-as-bare-bones-ports-get game, but because of the pointer thing even when I mapped what buttons I knew about (and I think I'm missing something because the game mentions buying bombs on the mission score screen) through Xpadder, using an analog stick to emulate mouse movement has never been a good idea. Playing a Star Fox-like game on PC with a controller would have made me very happy, but unfortunately, this was not that game.
By no means perfect, but eminently enjoyableLocke | June 26, 2014 | Review of Driver® San Francisco Deluxe Edition Other
Having grown up by San Francisco, the setting of this game is just right for me. The music, though not exactly to my taste, goes a long way to setting the tone, as do the cutscenes, all of which embody 70's era cop movie. Being in San Francisco gives the game lots of opportunities to to exploit elevation with large hills and jumps, something you're incentivized to explore through the Dare system as well.
Driving is fun, though not without some frustration. I'm a big fan of games that let you hold on the accelerator the whole way and control your course with careful steering and application of drift, but this game is anything but. It'll take a lot more planning than that to succeed, and quite often holding the gas at max will make you fishtail or wildly spin in circles. Not that these are bad things, mind you, but like I said, not how I prefer my racing games. There's also the matter of traffic. There's a lot of it, and running into it will slow you down significantly. It does help make the world feel full, and sometimes you'll see active police chases going on around you as well, but other times it just feels in the way. While this game certainly isn't as realistic as a proper simulator (and more on that in a second), it is much less forgiving than your average arcadey racing game, so keep that in mind if realistic racers aren't your style.
The thing that sets this game apart is the ability system, most notably the Shift ability. Shift allows you to jump into (almost) any other car in the world and do with it as you will. Chasing down a criminal trying to get away from cops? Shift into a bus in the opposite lane and have them meet an unfortunate accident. You can also boost or ram cars on a shared cooldown or shift instantly between any other car on your team. The game gives you a lot of options in tackling different missions, but cracks start to show up when it takes away these options. For Dares it doesn't matter so much, but full-fledged Challenges where they do things like take away all your abilities and ask you to take out a car quickly become frustrating.
The PC port is decent. It runs well enough, though it doesn't have much in the way of options. I do get hiccups sometimes and outright drops to single-digit FPS in the presence of fire. Some textures, such as the ground, will randomly flicker on and off sometimes. I do have to say though, I've never seen such nice looking tire smoke, and it doesn't even trash my wimpy little card like I'd expect.
A flawed but ultimately fun gameLocke | June 17, 2014 | Review of FUEL
As a racing game, FUEL is unpolished, the races repetitive, AI bad, etc. etc., you've heard it all before, I'm sure. As a sandbox, however, FUEL excels, and the racing portions manage to not be terrible enough to drive me off.
I do the career races and challenges when I get bored or want some fuel to buy new vehicles, or unlock those new vehicles, all the progression stuff, but the bulk of my time in this game is spent driving around the world from point to point and seeing what I can find. Finding the trucks to unlock the positions of collectibles, and then grabbing those, provides some structure, but the pleasure comes from not always listening to the directions of the GPS. The game is at its best when you fly down a mountain or sail across an open plain. Dense forests are less fun though, and I wish they made more of them less dense, or had less of them in general, or at least let me plow through some of the trees instead of making so many closely-gathered death poles in large swathes of the map. Asset re-use is also going to be a problem when your game can fit in a DVD but has one of the largest maps in a game of all time, but paying attention to your driving rather than the textures helps alleviate that somewhat.
The vehicles are deliciously different with plenty of unique challenges, though for exploration you'll pretty much only be able to use ones with a high off-road rating, which limits your options. However, for races and challenges you should be fed a steady variety of different vehicles. One of my favorite vehicles in this game for sheer ridiculosity (I swear that's a word) is an insane drag racer with a tendency to careen out of control at a moment's notice that's faster than anything else I've seen so far.
It should be noted that in light of the impending GFWL shutdown this game will become difficult to play. From what I've heard even singleplayer progress requires an internet connection to function correctly (probably due to the online free-roam architecture). Codemasters have stated they don't want to support the game because it is too old (ha) and it has been pulled from the Steam store, probably because of that. As far as GFWL goes, there is a third-party solution that uses some DLL's to do everything it would do and make sure the game works. Something to keep in mind for when the service goes down. On the positive side, the mod REFUELED is awesome and you should try it if you buy this.
In short, it's a decent, if imperfect, game, worth picking up cheap if you can grab it, don't expect any support from Codemasters in the future though.
An impressively bad gameLocke | June 12, 2014 | Review of Redneck Racers
Review originally posted on Steam.
I am fairly certain this is the worst game I have ever played. Often even bad games may be worth a low price, but this game is not worth a single penny or moment of your time. It fails on every level, from technical issues to braindead gameplay. Avoid at all costs.
Let's start at the beginning, the launcher. The highest the resolution can go is 720p. This can be forgiven if the game is good enough or it's heavily dependent on 2D art (such as visual novels), but no such excuses exist for this game. And as far as I can tell no option for a windowed mode either, so I hope you like stretching. And even with all the options maxed out here the screenshots do not begin to describe how terrible this game looks in motion.
Moving onto the game itself, the UI is hideous and clunky. Once you've managed to get past that, you are stuck with the longest loading screen I can recall in anything short of a Source game in many years (and the art you're stuck looking at doesn't help pass the time). Then you are in the "game." Unlike virtually every other single racing game from a behind-the-car perspective, you control both movement and acceleration with the left stick of your controller. I suspect this was done to lazily match the keyboard control scheme, rather than taking consideration for what plays well (a concern you will see equally ignored throughout the rest of the game). The driving itself is incredibly lifeless, from the physics to the track design. Other tractors will come towards you and slow you down if you hit them. You get points for doing so, but it doesn't seem worth it considering how much they get in your way. If only you could plow through them and watch tractor and driver alike careen through the air, perhaps that would have been one sole redeeming factor for this game. There are also anti-power-ups (why would you do this?) in abundance in this game. That floating thing in the middle of the road that looks like it'll be fun? It apparently makes you so drunk your controls lock up for around 15 seconds, leaving you with nothing to do as you stare at a wall. Between the time it took to figure out the travesty of the controls and discovering which of the power-ups actually help you (only one), I failed the mission. Blissfully though, the game gives you the option to quit to desktop right then and there. That is the best design choice the developers made in this whole trainwreck of a game.
In short, do not buy this game. Do not even redeem the key if you buy it from a bundle, like I did, hoping for a quick joyride. Do not let this game anywhere near your computer. It is, frankly, less playable than Bad Rats. If you do end up with a key, give it to someone you don't like or something. Maybe prank a friend with it. Do not play it.
Fun little party gameLocke | Feb. 12, 2014 | Review of 100% Orange Juice [Playfire]
Think of this game as Mario Party, only...without so much of the Mario. Well, really closer to Fortune Street than Mario Party, but you get the idea. The goal is to collect stars and beat monsters (and your fellow players) in order to reach the top level and beat the game. The stages and items are nowhere near as interesting as a game like Mario Party, and the mechanics are pretty simple too, but the sense of style and voice overs are pretty cute.
Much like Mario Party, your fortunes can shift with one bad turn, which will get pretty annoying against the computer, but this game does have one thing Mario doesn't: online multiplayer. Would highly recommend this as a LAN party game, or get some friends together over Skype (or whatever you like) so you can do some trash-talking and have some laughs together when the guy in first suddenly meets misfortune.
Not new, but executed wellLocke | Feb. 12, 2014 | Review of Aeon Command
This game doesn't do anything particularly new or interesting, and there's plenty of free Flash games that have the same basic concept of needing to send groups of AI units that constantly push across a map for control to capture the enemy base, but it manages to do that one thing very well and is probably my favorite game of the genre. There are three different races with unique ships and powers that change your play style and keep things interesting. It's also priced well and does have online multiplayer to extend the replay value (assuming you can find a game). Hopefully will be Greenlit soon to build the player base, and I'm certainly waiting eagerly to get back into it.
A game that could be good but sadly isn'tLocke | Feb. 8, 2014 | Review of Crash Time 2
Own review, taken from Steam and SteamCritic.
This game is...this game...the mechanics of the driving and all are actually pretty enjoyable, and the graphics are pretty decent too. The UI and voice acting leave a little to be desired, but I can live with that. But the missions, the missions, the missions are just unredeemably awful. If this had just been a normal racing game, I would have liked it, but the attempt at open-worldiness is half-baked at best and doesn't improve the game whatsoever. The missions are so finnicky that it's very easy to instantly end up in a position where it becomes unbeatable, and with the complete lack of checkpoints this means you're going to be doing a lot of restarting, doing the same boring stuff over and over and over again. Staying at just the right distance from another car isn't fun, at least as implemented here. And after playing this game for an hour, I didn't get into a single race, which was what I was looking for in the first place. I feel like this game has the makings of a really great low-budget Burnout, but they instead went for some police angle that just doesn't work at all, either thematically or mechanically.
A flawed game, but it has its momentsLocke | Feb. 5, 2014 | Review of Tank Universal
Own review copied from Steam and SteamCritic.
I played a fair bit of the demo of this and found a decently fun Tron-styled tank combat game. When I got around to playing the full game, I found that they took the whole Tron thing and ran with it, making about as blatant a rip-off as rip-offs go. From the plot to the obvious copy of the MCP, very little is original about this game. The walking portions are also pretty bad and only highlight the low budgetness of the game with poor animations and textures, and nothing you do while walking is very fun at all. It also proclaims to be part one of two games, and as far as I'm aware no Tank Universal 2 exists, so if you can somehow get into the story, you'll probably be left wanting.
All that aside though, the tank combat is serviceable, though I feel it really would benefit from online multiplayer. It would be a great stretch to call this a good game, as it seems to focus on the worst parts of itself, but if you can get it for cheap (I think I've seen 90% off coupons for it) and really dig tanks and Tron, it's probably worth a lark.
A worthy PC entry in the seriesLocke | Feb. 5, 2014 | Review of Scribblenauts Unlimited (NA)
Own review, copied from Steam and SteamCritic.
A polished and full-featured offering to the Scribblenauts series. Being on PC and having access to things like the keyboard and the Steam Workshop greatly improve the game. It is somewhat annoying to have to figure out what the game wants you to say, as its understanding of words can be limited at time. For instance, one puzzle needs you to evaluate a piece of art and typing "art expert" doesn't work, but "expert" by itself does. A mechanic can't repair a robot because a mechanic repairs cars, but a scientist can because science. Little things like that. Luckily those issues aren't usually a huge barrier to progress.