Reviews by MDuh

84

A good stereotyped game

MDuh | Aug. 21, 2013 | Review of Bully: Scholarship Edition

Introduction

The game is developed by rockstar games and it was originally released in playstation 2 on october 2006 and was ported in the PC and xbox 2 years after and was renamed to bully: scholarship edition. The scholarship edition features improved graphics, added exclusive content that is not available for PS2 like more missions, more characters, more items and clothing and more classes to attend, yes, you can attend classes in this game.

Now that I finished introducing you the game, let's talk about the game itself. Bully is an action-adventure sandbox game focused in a school environment. At start, you are introduced to Jimmy hopkins, a vagrant student who has been kicked out numerous times due to a number of unthinkable offences. As a result, You find yourself being thrown at the worst possible school you can ever imagine filled with students just like you. Your primary objective in the game is basically start from scratch and needle yourself to the top as the one who holds the power and respect.

Gameplay

The game plays like a normal sandbox game, you search for missions or random jobs and finish them giving you certain rewards. Although if I compared this to GTA, you won’t get bored easily with the missions because of the unique and diverse NPC interactions in this game, you can lock to an NPC with a certain faction and it will reply to you with an appropriate dialogue and body language depending on the respect they have on you. Factions that hate you will actually aggressively attack you without any warning. You have the choice if you want to be a pacifist and apologize to them or either let them bully you by giving them money instead so they stay away with you, or you can do it the jimmy hopkins' way which is basically beating em’ up. There are a variety of items and long-range weapons that you can use in the game, but the combat heavily relies to hand-to-hand combat. The combat system is very well done so you don’t have to worry about it, there are tons of combos that you can do, and if you add taunts and the different humiliations you can do in the equation, the combat won’t be boring as it gives out a bit of challenge to at least time your blocks and special attacks. There’s a lot more that this game has to offer though apart from the main story, there are tons of optional things to do so this game will be a delight for completionists.

Let’s start with classes, since the game pretty much revolves in a school environment, adding and attending classes while playing just makes your experience of bully better. There are 8 different classes, and completing a specific class gives you special bonuses for your character. Each class asks you to play a mini-game which I will discuss with you in a moment. The mini-games aren’t that shabby and actually quite fun.

English makes your apology and taunts more effective, the mini-game is like a text-twist mini-game Geography unlocks collectible items in the map so you can easily get them, the mini-game for geography Is quite predictable. If you guessed that it is matching and determining countries and US states, then you are absolutely right. Math just unlocks outfits and some trophy displays in your room, the mini-game for math is incredibly easy, just basic arithmetic and common sense question like, that’s biggest, smalles, slowest or fastest. Art unlocks grants more health by kissing on a girl by giving a gift to them, and when you finished all art classes, all girls wouldn’t require a gift for a kiss. The objective for this mini-game is you want to uncover the most space in the square, you want to enclose the objects without hitting your square or yourself Shop, which is a bit weird to me as I didn’t experience taking this class while I was on high school. Basically you are fixing a bike, the mini-game is a bit simplistic, you just need to follow the command being shown in the screen. There’s a minimum time do it so you need to it fast and accurately. It unlocks new designs and stats upgrade for your bike. Photography, basically in this class, you go outside and take pictures of landmarks of people. The class unlocks the ability to save pictures on your camera, you being able to fill the yearbook of every student in the school and at the final class, earns you double tickets in the carnival. Music, this is my favorite class since the mini-game is a rhythm game. Although very easy, you need to press and time two buttons according to the music you are playing. Surprisingly the music is perfectly synced when I played it so it’s enjoyable at least. Music class unlocks Outfits Chemistry, in this class there will be a series of command that you will need to press chronologically in a small window, it’s a bit similar to music class but there are no rhythm to follow and more buttons to press. Chemistry unlocks weapons for you to easily make on your dorm. And lastly, Gym classes. There are 2 mini-games for gym, it’s either wrestling or dodgeball. You unlock fighting combos and weapon accuracy upon finishing the class.

Well that a long just to discuss classes. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, I won’t discuss them deeply and just enumerate the other extra things that you can do in bully.

Lockpicking Item Collectibles Bike races Mini-kart races Jobs Special errands Yearbooks Faction challenges Detention Food fights Seasonal changes (Halloween and winter days) Arcade mini-games Carnival mini-games Carnival unlocks Tagging territory Asylum

Adding all depth and all the content you can explore in the game plus the great combat system I’m gonna give the bull a gameplay score of

Gameplay score of 9.1/10

Graphics and Performance

Since the game is released @ 2006 and was just ported to the PC, I will be judging the game’s graphics based on 2006 but performance based on what I’ve experienced while playing the game. Textures are not that bad. Body language is quite good, synced with the game same with facial expression. But the lip sync is just bad, it’s almost non-existence. Grass textures are seriously laughable for a 2006 game, it’s just 2D sprites and 3D ones are just crossed patterns of 2D grass sprites.

Performance wise the game is ported really good, didn’t experience any graphical glitches, I only start feeling some lag after 5 hours of continuous playtime.

I used a controller all throughout the game though so I can’t comment if this game is playable on a keyboard

Graphics and performance score: 6.3/10

Sound and Dialogues

For background sound, I’m a bit quirked by it because it sounds like it was recorded in mono quality. But if you disregard the quality of it, The music really fits the game really well especially on specific scenarios. No complains on sound effects, but again, it feels like the game engine only uses mono sounds.

Dialogues are impressive, there’s a wide variety of dialogues that you will hear each different with each faction and depending on their status on you.

Sound and Dialogues score: 8.4/10

Final verdict and is it worth it?

Absolutely yes, for 15$, this game will last you over 15 hours just by doing the main story line and other extras that you might encounter. Game is more enjoyable if you used a controller as far as I’m concerned, no need for a mouse since there’s no accurate aiming that you must perform; the lock feature will do this job for you. I don’t see the game being more enjoyable if you tried to fps the shooting part.

For the final score, I will put a ratio of (60:20:20) since gameplay is seriously much needed for a sandbox game like this to keep the players continue to play the game and not get bored on it. Graphics isn’t that paid attention but getting the right atmosphere by setting the right dialogues and just the right scenery will make the game really well.

Final score: 8.4/10

67

Like an Essay that needs revising

MDuh | Aug. 21, 2013 | Review of Papo & Yo

Introduction

Papo & yo is a story straight out from an English literary book, it is a game full of symbolism where a South American kid is experiencing abuse from his father. Thus, the kids try to escape reality by going on his own fantasy world. This is the 1st game that is developed and marketed by minority studios, a Canadian game studio.

Gameplay

The game is mainly a puzzle platformer in a third person perspective. You solve puzzles and interact with the world by moving switches from levers, gears, ropes to robot plugs. You can also alter the world by moving houses in your own liking and even stack and bend buildings so you can reach high places. The puzzles are ridiculously easy but the game doesn't recycle a puzzle mechanic from it's previous one so you won't get bored or appalled from the game in the middle which is the main problem of puzzle games.

Unfortunately, even though the puzzles are somewhat original, there are parts where I, In my opinion, think that other puzzle levels is just used as padding to lengthen the game since it doesn't contribute at all in the storyline, or at least that's how I interpret it. This is seen strongly at the end where you need to revive your robot named "lula" by squeezing the anger inside the monster .... 4 times. This is then followed by a platforming exercise in which you can't do much when you have fallen at the top of the houses, even the relocating door located in the ends of the place is useless since the "monster" catches up to you really fast when the distance is great and suddenly slows down it speed artifically when he's near you.

Despite the padding and frustration in the puzzles in the middle, the game ends the story in a relaxing "trance-like" in which it tries to calm the player from that exhausting and rage inducing puzzles.

Gameplay score of: 6.4/10

Graphics and Performance

Papo & yo was a port from PS3 and was released 1 year before in PC. The port itself was excellent. Textures, graphics and options in the settings were plenty enough; AA, vsync, light shafts, motion blur, ambient oclusion. bloom and fps counter. The controls in papo & yo despite being a platformer was not good, it's probably one of the reason where my annoyances stemmed from the game in the later levels of the game where you need at least some precision in the jumping puzzles.

I did consult my friend who is a PS3 player and he did confirmed that controls in PS3 is much better and there is no surprise that using a controller vs a mouse and keyboard in papo & and yo feels better. Other than the minor clipping issues from the "monster", the fps counter settings being reset in cutscenes and level change, and Anti-aliasing ala-assassins creed jaggedness but much more extreme and some lag spikes when it is auto saving or going to a checkpoint. The devs ported the art design and feel perfectly, the graffiti's and art in the game are amazing and the meticulous attention to the urban area look is refreshing. In addition, the game also features rebindable keys, invert options and mouse sensitivity, which are very rare to see in ports. For more details, you can check pcgaming wiki for papo & yo porting differences here in this link http://pcgamingwiki.com/wiki/Papo%26Yo

Graphics and performance score: 7.6/10

Sound and Dialogues

It's nothing special for me but it is indeed quite fitting in thie setting. Maybe it's just that I don't like tribe music in the first place. Although there a few quirks and problems where some sound effects seemed to be muted at times and what you can only hear is the background music and some other things. Maybe it's their design choice but I wonder If this game would be better if it had a narration that is similar to "The cave"

Sound and Dialogues score: 6.1/10

Final verdict and is it worth it?

Despite the game being visually appealing and its symbolic story telling being unique, the game itself is unstable. All throughout my first playthrough of the game, I suffered from 8 crash to desktop and 1 blue screen of death scenario. The crashes are mostly seen from checkpoints and scripted events, the game will just stop and a message pop-up will appear like this http://puu.sh/46cqZ.jpg and the blue screen one is from unknown reason, it’s probably that the game doesn’t fancy to be recorded.

The story from the get go is very obvious, so I didn’t feel anything special from the story of the game apart from “it” being very personal to the developer. Maybe the story will hit hard on some people who did experience the same thing and they’ll probably rate it higher than mine. But for me who didn’t experience that family problem, I’m probably rating it with a bit more bias. Especially that from a technical point of view, there are some out of place parts of the story that the game is implying which I will not discuss here to avoid spoilers. But I can assure you that in the end, after playing the game, there will be 2-3 things that you will feel and realize that is kinda out of place.

My official game time from playing this game disregarding some puzzles which I redid due to crashes and BSOD was 3 hours 19 minutes and 36 seconds (including credits) For 15$, I think the game is not that worth it. I’d fully buy it full price for 10$, but since I got it for 75% off in a steam sale, I can’t complain enough for that price. Score ratio for this kind of Puzzle platformer game is (65:25:10) which brings the final score to:

Final score: 6.7/10

67

Bad game designs is it's demise

MDuh | May 4, 2013 | Review of The Cave

So What is the cave, well it’s a coop puzzle platformer made by double fine productions. Double fine is responsible for games like pyschonauts, brutal legends, costume quest and etc.

Gameplay: The game supports up to 3 players locally. So you start on the game by picking 3 of the 7 characters introduced at the start. You are greeted by the cave’s a charming voice, yes it is a talking cave. Each of the characters has their own dark and deep story behind them and also, a counter dark story if you chose to. So there’s replayability potential on this game, completionist rejoice! Basically the game asks you to uncover the secrets below the cave. Riddled by numerous puzzles and also levels on the character you picked to learn more about his storyline. Each of the characters has its own special abilities so there will be instances that you need a specific character to reach a part of a level, adding more replayability points for the game.

The puzzle in this game ranges from logical to annoying, most of the puzzles are designed to utilize all 3 characters in solving the puzzles. Sometimes it’s just a smooth breeze solving it, but also there are times where it is annoying enough that you wouldn’t expect to solve the puzzle in that manner. Another factor that adds to the annoyances on this game is the lack of split screen support. It was supposed to be a coop game but they purposedly lock the camera to a certain distance. If one of you ventured far enough on the camera, it will prevents you from doing so OR, the worst part is, it will move the camera focus the one guy. You can imagine how annoying that is for the other 2 players playing with you. Another annoyance on the game is it doesn’t have any AI. Yes, If you are playing it alone, you are required to control the 3 of characters 1 by 1. At least they should add a follow mechanic for the AI right? Since it is a platformer, you are guaranteed to jump a certain ledge 3 times, climb the stairs 3 times, swim to 1 point 3 times and etc. The lack of AI also means replaying the game becomes a hassle. But the main gripe for me in this game is the lack of inventory feature, you are only allowed to hold 1 item every character, so you are wondering, how this becomes an annoyance? Well, in some larger maps that involves puzzles, there are instances that you need to use an item and also need to station one of your characters to an area ready to press the button or pull a lever. If one of your character holding an item required to do a task in another end of the map, it becomes a chore to walk your character to the other side of the map to drop that item and bring back him again to that lever or button.

Gameplay score: 5.5/10

That’s all for gameplay, lets head to graphics.

Graphics and performance: The game has its own unique style and graphics on it, Graphic style is really good and I don’t seen any levels that is poorly made and designed graphically. The atmosphere of the game fits the game and story surprisingly well, they managed to fit a carnival, a castle, a forest and many more in the cave and it doesn’t look weird at all. The game has some performance issues though, fraps says that I’m running the game @ 60fps, but it doesn’t look like it, it feels and plays like a 30fps game. I’m not sure if the devs have already addressed this issue because I know at release, the game was locked at 30fps.

Graphics and performance score: 8/10

Sound and Dialogues: The fact that I didn't think about the sounds while I’m making the review means it’s good. If it didn’t bothered me at all, then it means it fits the atmosphere ad motif of the game really well. For dialogues, nothing much to say, the characters are mute, but the humorously good narrator makes dialogues fun to hear garnering a perfect score for this department.

Sound and Dialogues score: 10/10

Final verdict and Is it worth it?: The game was released in multiple platforms. But since it is a PC review, we are only concerned on PCs. The game was released on the steam platform on January 22 2013 and since then, the game has dropped below 5$ since the release of this review from nuuvem and gamersgate.

For what’s it worth, me and my sister finished one playthrough in around 4.5 hours, right exactly from the average time that howlongtobeat.com has posted. As I said earlier, there is replayability potential in the game. The game can be replayed up to 5 times to unlock all the story behind of each character. There are 14 stories to be unlocked 2 from each character branching out. It’s hard to replay the game though since it feels doing 3 of the 6 puzzles again becomes a major chore annoyance (the game has 6 levels, 3 of which is given regardless of the characters you chose, and 3 from each of the character). If you can tolerate the annoyances in the game and it’s repetition, then this will be a good buy for you.

For 15$, I think it’s a good experience playing the game and also with its unique atmosphere. but I suggest to get the game at least on 50% sale due to its design flaw and repetition. For that price, I think it’s worth it.

Final score(60:30:10 ratio): I give a 60:30:10 ratio for this game because gameplay is much more important for a platform puzzle game netting the game a final score of:

Overall Score: 6.7/10