Reviews by Prozac

70

Vigilante Story

Prozac | Nov. 21, 2013 | Review of Max Payne 3

If there's one thing you can say about Rockstar, it's that their story telling craft keeps improving.

Max Payne 3 is a departure from the previous two games in that you're no longer the squinty protagonist trapped in a city of madness, drugs and conspiracy. Instead, you're in sunny Brazil working as a private body guard, getting away from the rainy NYC from previous games.

Max has a few flash backs to his former life and how he got down to the tropics and tangled up in a kidnapping plot, but the story is heavily based on the corruption unfolding in Sao Paulo.

Although Max goes through a minor mid-life crisis and ends up shaving his head, it just doesn't feel the same without the nightmare levels or the dark delusions of a alcohol saturated mind. With no police force to report to or people to really be held accountable to, it feels a bit "gringo vigilante" throughout most of the game.

The gameplay is reasonably solid, but the difficulty curve takes a steep drop once you get familiar with aiming directly for the face every time. Bullet time only makes things easier when you're getting the hang of dialing your sights in. I have to imagine it's much more difficult with a controller, but with keyboard and mouse, it's only a matter of time before every enemy is one or two shots to the head away from no longer being a problem.

Like any good Max Payne game, the ending is pretty brutal and Max is left not much better off than he started with the bad guys dead and another killing spree heavy on his conscious.

70

Not real football, but definitely real fun!

Prozac | Dec. 30, 2012 | Review of Blood Bowl: Legendary Edition

I have never played Blood Bowl, the classic board game from Games Workshop, but I've always wanted to. I've read and heard countless times that Blood Bowl is the best game GW ever produced, and playing in a tournament league always sounded like the most fun that could be had in the miniature hobby by the way people talked about it. Anxious to try to game, I picked up Blood Bowl Legendary Edition PC game when it first came out.

The PC game plays exactly as the board game, and is simply a digital adaptation. Blood Bowl is a turn-based strategy game inspired by American Football and the Warhammer Fantasy universe (I've still yet to figure out if Blood Bowl takes place within the Warhammer setting or is an in-house parody of it). The objective of the game is to score as many touchdowns as possible, playing through 8-turn halves. Teams usually consist of a handful of different positions, a combination of muscle and speed. The Legendary Edition includes nearly all of the playable races featured in the board game, notably excluding Chaos Dwarfs. Because the computer does the calculations and dice rolls, the digital Blood Bowl allows players to focus more on strategy, anticipating opponent movements and preparing your own offensive and defensive tactics, as opposed to additionally cycling through charts or chucking dice. Blood Bowl also includes a real-time mode (which I believe is called "Blitz")--but its not what you might expect. Rather than being like Madden with fantasy characters, real-time is essentially a real-time tactics mode in which everyone is constantly in motion. It's barely playable, very difficult, and feels like it was tacked on simply as an advertising scheme.

The game is extremely difficult. Part of this is due to its randomness, and part of it is due to Cyanide's poor ability to scale difficulty. Playing on the easiest setting, those new to Blood Bowl are likely to be clobbered many, many times. There's no real guidance, very little in the way of helping anyone new to getting started in the game. There's a brief tutorial which teaches you the basic rules, but nothing guiding you in a real game. No hints or suggestions. No guide helping you choose your first team. That would be perfectly fine and dandy, if I was coming to Blood Bowl PC as a Blood Bowl board game veteran. Blood Bowl is a very random game, and your ability to win or lose the game may be disrupted and ruined by a dice roll. This can get tedious, frustrating, and annoying. It's especially upsetting to see your player trip over nothing or fail to pick up the ball in the open to due a poor dice roll. Much of the game quickly grows very repetitive, in a bad way--the commentators, Jim and Bob, quickly run out of new things to say. The controls are very simple, point and click. The graphics are decent, nothing great, but I personally was impressed with the soundtrack. The teams are in no way balanced--and I don't think they were ever intended to be. In the board game, I believe several teams were made intentionally worse to challenge veterans, or just to provide a "fun" team. But again, nothing in the game tells you that (in most games, balance is one of the major goals for playability). I made the mistake of starting with Ogres; I then went through Orcs, Dwarfs, Elfs, High Elfs, and finally settled on Humans to get consistent wins. I'm not very good at Blood Bowl--at all, really--but it feels like the game never gave me a chance to be.

As long as the drive to win remains high, the game remains pretty dang fun. As I started winning with my Human team, the desire to keep playing diminished quickly. The "fun" aspect I'd heard about so much in the board game does not translate well into the digital adaptation. Countless forums go on about how fun it is to play as Halflings or Goblins, even when you lose, in the board game--but in this digital game, if you're not winning, it really is hard to have much fun, in my personal opinion. This digital game showcases the gameplay, and I might have to disagree with the assertion that Blood Bowl is the best game GW has ever produced, based on the gameplay alone. But I can see that with the right players, one could possibly have more fun with Blood Bowl, the board game, than any other GW game. I'm not sure if I can recommend the PC game as anything other than a way to learn the rules or practice the game in preparation for playing the board game.

65

Fun, different but a little short

Prozac | Dec. 30, 2012 | Review of Brink Nexway

Since plenty of other reviews have already gone into detail about the game's mechanism, I'll just give you a summary: the game is basically ten or so team-based, objective-driven maps that one can either play solo, or with varying levels of humans involved (human vs bots, human vs human). I read a few reviews that said you would need friends to enjoy the latter part of the game, but unless you play Call of Duty exclusively with your friends, that is not the case at all. While you will probably finish both campaigns, basically the ten maps from each side, within a few days, I believe there is enough replay value to keep you going for a good while.

The biggest thing I'd like you to know about the game though, is that it has quite a sharp learning curve. The HUD is quite cluttered and there can be multiple objectives at the same time, which can be confusing to people who play FPS games where you're basically held by your hand and led through the story. If you're a gamer, though, I'm sure you'll get used to it quickly. If you're new to FPS games, I actually don't recommend this game. Pick up a more mainstream game then come back to this when you're more well-suited to the genre.

There are plenty of customization, especially with the appearance of your character, and one option (body weight) even affects your gameplay: will you be a large behemoth, able to withstand multiple headshots, or will you be a light and agile fiend, able to climb higher walls and run faster. There are also plenty of weapons paired with plenty of customization, but as noted in another review, the weapons themselves do not vary much inside their classifications (one SMG feels like another). Still, the customization does spice things up a bit, although I admit my add-ons are similar across weapons. The four different classes are very nicely designed; they're different enough to be meaningful but different weapons can be held by all classes so it isn't only the soldier getting the kills (he does get a larger variety of grenades, though). My personal favorite class is the Engineer - he can buff his own weapon and install a pretty nifty turret!

I picked up a copy of Brink a few days ago off Steam when it was heavily discounted, so I have no qualms about the price. That being said, I would definitely recommend buying the game even at full price, it is quite a lot of fun and is a very refreshing change of pace from the usual Call of Duty or Battlefield release.

60

Rage: 10 things to know

Prozac | Dec. 30, 2012 | Review of RAGE: Special Edition (International)

I recently completed id's Rage for the PC, so I decided to post a review of the game. Here are ten important things you need to know:

  1. Gameplay - Simply put, Rage is fun. The controls feel smooth and natural as you progress through an exciting world of action and suspense. The gameplay is mostly linear, but there is enough variety to keep it interesting. Furthermore, the sidequests are fun, and they mesh well with the pace of the game. Rage doesn't push too many boundaries, but it doesn't feel like it needs to.

  2. Graphics - The world of Rage is as rich and beautiful as a post-apocalyptic world can be. Up close, the textures appear slightly low-res, but that barely impacts the overall presentation. Minor texture popping is an issue, although it has mostly been remedied with recent updates.

  3. Characters - The characters that live in Rage are vibrant and well-voiced, but they are ultimately unmemorable. Some blame is due to the fact that you never get to stay in one town for very long, but the primary fault is that there is no character development. The characters only exist to assign missions and provide atmosphere to the story and environment.

  4. Plot - The recycled story is Rage's weakest feature. What exists is well-delivered, but it will leave you wanting more, especially after the game's anti-climatic conclusion. Plot voids may be acceptable in some action games, but Rage is designed to make the player crave something epic. This expectation ultimately leads to disappointment.

  5. Multiplayer - Rage has two multiplayer modes, but neither is compelling, and deathmatch is completely absent. This omission is disappointing because Rage's weapons would have been exciting to experience competitively. Although id used to be the king of PC multiplayer, potential players should know that Rage is mostly a single-player experience.

  6. Weapons and Items - Rage provides an assortment of weapons, items, and ammunition that greatly enhances the gameplay. Although many weapons seem familiar, some provide enough of a twist to make Rage unique. Unlike some first-person shooters, buying ammo seems essential, especially if you want the full impact of what the game has to offer.

  7. Driving - Driving is a major aspect of Rage. It's required in order to progress the story and to safely travel, and it's a primary means to make money. Vehicle maintenance and acquisition is also required. Rage does a great job balancing these aspects and making them feel like a natural part of the game.

  8. Enemies - Rage is populated with various factions of people, so you'll encounter a decent variety of foes that gradually increase in difficulty and complexity. The only disappointment is that the best, most impressive boss fight occurs early in the game, and there are few major encounters to look forward to after that.

  9. Immersion - Despite its fantastic gameplay, Rage suffers from not being immersive enough. Overall, the environment feels decorative. There are way too many invisible walls, and there is very little to interact with or destroy. It's annoying when enemies use and drop weapons that cannot be picked up, and it's annoying to loot them just to get their cash and ammo.

  10. Mini Games - Rage offers a small assortment of mini games including a card game that relies on your ability to find and collect the cards as you perform your missions. However, these games feel inconsequential as there are no rewards for playing them other than money and achievements, and money never feels scarce.

Conclusion Rage provides an incomplete experience, and it will not be appreciated by players who demand depth in story. However, despite its flaws, there is a lot to love. Most importantly, Rage is fun! I recommend it for anyone who can appreciate an single-player action game for the entertainment it provides.

85

Great addition to the series

Prozac | Dec. 30, 2012 | Review of Tropico 4 DNS

I've read people saying "should have been an expansion" - just like Tropico 3, etc. and I have to wonder how long they played it before they wrote their review. I've played through all the missions (20 in total) and I can say that Tropico 4 holds its own as a new addition to the series. There are a ton of differences. Here are all the NEW elements of Tropico 4.

1) All new radio announcements/announcers throughout the game. Yes, Juanito is gone, but he does get his "revenge" on you in one of the missions. My favorite radio line after I ruled for 50 years... "it is with great sadness that I must announce the passing of El Presidente (pause)... JUST KIDDING! We all know El Presidente will never die."

2) Voice acting. This is separate from the radio announcers. All the characters now talk, something they didn't do in Tropico 3. And there are a lot of characters too. This alone is a huge improvement over Tropico 3.

3) Interactive Disasters (plus several new disasters too). What's an "interactive disaster?" It's where you play a role and your decisions dictate some of the disaster effects. For example, during an oil spill, you determine how much you want to clean up. That dictates how polluted your waters become. During a drought you have to manually water your fields if you chose to conserve water. And the disasters are all animated. You see the tsunami hit your island and it even deposits a crashed ship somewhere on your island. You may get anywhere from 1-3 tornadoes hitting your island at once.

3) Tons of new buildings. I think I read there were 20. And these aren't puny buildings either. The Stock Market, for example, allows you to control the privatization of your island. So one building comes with an entire network of new features to give you another approach to making money in the game. The weather station helps forecast disasters so that your citizens can be warned. You'll still lose buildings, but your citizens will get out of harms way and loss of life will be minimized. The fire station helps put out fires. Fire trucks race to the building, and little firemen get out with their hoses and fight the fire. These are all huge advances over Tropico 3.

4) Rebuild Feature. In Tropico 3, when you lost a building, you had to go search for it again in the menu, rebuild it, then reapply any upgrades you had on the building. In Tropico 4 when a building is lost, you have a little Rebuild icon that shows up. Click it and your building is automatically rebuilt with all the features you had applied to it before (you have to pay for it, of course).

5) Quick Build. One of the frustrations of Tropico 3 was trying to build a bunch of buildings and having to wait forever for your builders to get them all done. Tropico 4 has a Quick Build option where, for a premium price, you can instantly construct the building. I probably use this more than any other feature.

6) A new in-depth campaign with several cut scenes. The campaign is the most in-depth storyline in the history of the Tropico series. There are 20 missions on 10 maps (wish it was 20 maps). Now the interesting thing about this is that after you start the campaign, through the course of the first several missions there are "cut scenes" that help move the story along. Now this is great and a huge improvement over Tropico 3. HOWEVER... it appears that the developers ran out of time or got lazy at the end because as the missions go on the cut scenes get fewer and fewer then disappear altogether. So I have mixed feelings about this. But as far as stories go, this is a pretty darn good one.

7) Remembering your deeds. The game remembers your deeds. So something you do in one of the first several missions can come back to play a role in missions later on when you least expect it. I like this feature.

8) Instead of just dealing with the U.S. and USSR, you are now also dealing with China, Europe, and the Middle East. Now unlike the U.S. and USSR, they don't send you financial aid. But your relationship with them does have import/export ramifications.

9) In game challenges. One of the biggest new additions to Tropico 4 is in-game challenges that have an effect on your relationship with different factions or foreign countries. The USSR may want you to quietly send them exports of Iron. The environmentalists may want you to build new gardens, etc. These challenges appear as icons over buildings. You click it, read the challenge/reward, and decide if you want to take on the challenge or not. This helps you dictate the direction of your game and improve with factions your having problems gaining respect from.

10) You can now import! If you're lacking a resource on your island, you can still build an industry around it by importing. You can also dictate what countries to allow importing from and how much to import. It's a huge new feature for those dependent on Industry to win games.

11) Skill Upgrades. Before you would select a skill and the effect would be the same for every mission. Now when you select a skill/trait and complete a mission, you get an additional star next to that trait (up to 5 stars) which improves its abilities.

All put together, those are huge improvements that obviously took thousands of hours to program, much longer than it would have taken to create an "expansion pack". I wouldn't be surprised if the developers are put off by people saying it should have been an expansion. I'd hate to see the company stop developing the game altogether. There are many more new things I didn't mention like all new music and the Facebook and Twitter integration. Thank goodness you can turn the Facebook/Twitter integration off if you don't care for them. :-) There's the new Challenge editor, online leaderboards, etc.

Now, with that said, there are ways the game can be improved going forward:

1) They need to deal with the transportation issue. Roads are built the same way as in Tropico 3 and there are no new transportation methods to get citizens from point A to point B. Ideally the developers would add things like Buses or highways and also increase the SQUEEZE to get to the shore where the docks are. Yes, I said docks (plural). Unlike past Tropico games, you can now build multiple docks! Another thing I'd like to see is the ability to build bridges.

2) I'd like to see them allow you to work on multiple islands at once. The game screens/islands are getting huge. Why not make one that has four islands that you can develop at the same time on the same map?

3) One of the key features of Tropico is to have your own Swiss Bank Account (Slush Fund) that you can channel money to. While this is fun, it serves no purpose. You can't do anything in the game with that money. I'd like to see this flushed out so that El Presidente can buy things with the money. One idea is to be able to buy luxuries for yourself (i.e. yatch, plane, etc.). Another completely separate idea would to build your own Presidente Mansion. You have a piece of land set aside that is El Presidente's "home" away from the palace. You can continually buy upgrades with your Swiss Bank Account and watch your mansion grow. Being able to spend the money would make the game more fun and interactive.

I really like this game and hope that people buy it so that we see more expansions and versions in the future. I hate to see good games die (i.e. SimCity and the Roller Coaster Tycoon Series). Tropico 4 is definitely a quality game and does stand on its own.

75

Great strategy game

Prozac | Dec. 30, 2012 | Review of Warlock: Master of the Arcane

I downloaded the demo and spent more time playing it then my full game of Elemental. For those of you not familiar Elemental is a turn-based strategy game that was horribly produced and delivered. Essentially it was nothing more than a shell when first launched, even though it sold for $50! After experiencing Elemental I was nervous about Warlock, but I played the demo and immediately pre-purchased the game. It was that much fun. Plus, it appears to be well tested and smooth running.

Warlock is a mixture of Might and Magic and Civilization. There is no small scale combat, like in M&M. All combat is at the one on one unit level, with units taking damage in turn based attacks. There are spells that can be used against enemy units and cities, as well as buff spells for your units. I really don't miss the small scale tactical battles as much as I thought. I think doing things this way provides a brisker pace of play, and forces more strategic vs. tactical focus.

The interface is nearly perfect, with reminders for all activities that need to be considered. The graphics are appropriate, and I like the unit variety. There is a fair amount of randomization, so that each game provides a new challenge, even if the basic map layout is the same.

There doesn't appear to be any grand story here, so if you are looking for that sort of thing then it might not be your cup of tea. Basically your goal is to setup a game, using the available parameters like map size, number of players, etc, and then win using up to four different ways.

In summary, if you like turn based strategy, I think you'll really like this game.

85

Great blend of games into one

Prozac | Dec. 30, 2012 | Review of Dishonored Nexway

This game from the beginning has a very unique style to it, it blends stealth; fast paced combat and exploration (although not open world, more like open zone). After 6+ hours so far, I'm guessing it's about 12-15 at my pace but could be shorter or longer depending on how much you explore and do side quests.

Update-I have now put in 37 hours in 2 play-throughs, and all of the above stand. took me about 25 hours the first time doing complete Ghost achievements, 2nd time was just the opposite, and were both satisfying. The game's ending and level design changes due to how you play through a "chaos" hidden ranking, which I thought was a nice touch as my 2 completions had different outcomes and aesthetics in some levels and dialogue.

Pros-

Each of these are done very well, I have chosen to attempt stealth and I am having a great time with the controls and abilities given to play that way. I have also tried full in your face combat and it is very hectic but in a good way! There are a lot of gear upgrades to spend cash on and abilities to improve as well allowing customization.

There are multiple methods of doing the missions and side missions so far, depending on your abilities and play styles; I can see myself already replaying this with a different style and not getting bored.

The storytelling is well done, I want to find out what happens and it's great to listen in on people (and how/what they think with your abilities).

Cons-

The graphics aren't the greatest but fit the art style and demeanor of the game, but could be better textures I think. Gives decent enough options to allow a range of computers to run it but mine is pretty up to date so I can't say how low it can run on.

Overall I think this is worth my time x2 play throughs at least, if you enjoy this blend/style of game then it's probably worth the ~60, otherwise I'm sure a sale will show up.

65

Tough old style game

Prozac | Dec. 30, 2012 | Review of Earth 2160 Capsule

I would describe this game as stable, oldschool coding in a world of advanced graphic games. It reminds me of a Sierra game in this respect. Some people had problems with it, but I've played the campaigns twice on two different comps with no bugs. There is a patch you get a link to by email when you register the game, but it is only to improve the functionality of the skirmish and online gameplay features, and doesn't affect the campaign in any way. I can't seem to win if I don't play on the difficulty setting Easy, however. I wanted to play a space game and this scratched the itch. There are four campaigns, each with about 8 missions, and some rather long movies between them to carry the plot along. The movies could've been better: it's not the graphics, but the sense that the voice scripts were not read in the same room by the readers, and cut/edited together to give a feel of synchronicity.

The gameplay is, well, hard. There are so many commands it takes a while to understand what to do to give that competitive edge. Every attempt is made by the game designers to alleviate some of this - fully customizable commands, etc; but the system defaults for keyboard/mouse control are as good as any... For example, it took me a long time to figure out how to attack with the Lunar Corporation "Ripper" ship. After playing it a while, though, it gets really fun. A Save Replay function stores a set portion of the game as a file so you can review your tactics later, or just watch how you annihilated the enemy. It is like Starcraft with a lot of additions, including customizable ships and a "hero" who can collect special tools to help them (armor and weapons). The campaign is like a cross between Aliens (the movie) and Stargate.

75

The game is fun. Just how long does the fun last?

Prozac | Dec. 30, 2012 | Review of Warhammer 40000: Space Marine (THQ)

The Story (3.5/5) It's a standard 40K story. There is only war, high risks, threats to the Imperium. Relic uses the known enemies of the Imperium, so there are no big surprises, or great twists. It's enjoyable, light, easy to follow. But certainly not a masterpiece. You know your objectives, you know what's at stake. I found that the servo-skulls recordings were quite nice, a welcome addition. It gives you background from the invasion prior to your arrival, and the desperation of survival.

The Graphics (5/5) Beautiful. Relic's experience with the 40K license gives them a spectacular understanding of how to emulate the feeling of the 40K universe. There's a lot of detail throughout the war-torn Forge World, from visual treats like the Adeptus Mechanicus sigils, the detail on the Orks, the Purity Seals on your Power Armour... it's all great. The texture quality might not be the best, but that's me nitpicking.

The Sound (4/5) The voice-acting is okay, sort of what I expected from Ultramarines. They are not passionate, and you can almost feel the holier-than-thou attitude. The regular human acting was actually a good surprise; I think they both captured the awe at seeing an Adeptus Astartes, and the tiredness of fighting against a brutal enemy. The Orks, on the other hand... they could have been better. More Ork-ish, I guess. Also, the bolter did not sound as powerful as I would've liked. It's good, but nothing spectacular. The soundtrack is pretty good, a great touch. I half-expected to hear the Ultramarine chants of previous games, though.

The Game (4/5) You see an Ork, you kill an Ork. That's pretty much all you need to know. Throughout the campaign, you've given an arsenal of melee and ranged weapons. Each has their use, and none are completely overshadowed by another. Sure, you might enjoy the devastation of the meltagun, but you should use the strengths of each. Is combat repetitive? Yes. Is it fun? Yes. Everyone will have an opinion on whether wading through waves of Orks is eventually boring, but there is enough variety to just have fun with it. There are tough places, but not impossible. You've your armour, and your health. Armour regenerates after a short time, and health is recovered by performing Execution maneouvers. These maneovers are visceral, but you're not immortal during the animation: you might be killed while performing one. Also, there are about 3 or 4 different animations for each melee weapon, so it might bet boring to see them over and over again. No, there is not a cover button. You should not need it. The controls are responsive, and quick enough to get out of the way of a barrage of either bullets, or rockets, or a crazed Nob that feels you're a head taller than you should be. The switch between ranged and melee is impressive, and you can quickly respond to any situation. Movement is as solid as it should be, considering you're practically a walking tank. You are a Space Marine, but you are not invincible. You should be smart enough to plan your battles, not just charge recklessly and complain that you died. Know your strengths, your weapons, and you will be successful. At times, it feels like an old-school beat-em-up. At others, a third-person shooter. Overall, the campaign should take about 8, 9 hours. There's probably not much incentive to replay it, since there are no branching paths. You might enjoy using other weapons or such, or trying a harder difficulty.

Multiplayer (5/5) A blast. Pretty standard, but well done. The classes are mostly balanced, the perks are interesting, the levels rewarding. Customization is a bit less impressive than I thought, but it's still quite good. The matches are quick, furious, and in my experience, not a trace of lag. There are minor grievances with the matchmaking, but you'll get over it quickly. This would be the main reason to come back to the game, specially if Relic keeps giving us reasons to come back. The co-op multiplayer aspect is supposed to come in 30 days, so that's something to look forward to. All in all, it's great fun.

The Bottom Line: If your thinking this is the game that will replace all games, you're probably going to be disappointed. It's a good game, but not excellent. The campaign is fun, but short. The combat is good, but can get repetitive for some. The story's solid, but not spectacular. If multiplayer's not your thing, you're better off renting the game. A solid addition to the 40K game line.

90

Hello Commander, and welcome to XCOM: Enemy Unknown

Prozac | Dec. 24, 2012 | Review of XCOM: Enemy Unknown (ANZ)

This is a game I have been following very closely for months after I learned of its development. I have very fond memories of the original game which I had until now still pulled out and played every couple of years for old times sake.

So how is this newest iteration? In short, it's pretty good and a lot of fun. Easily the best turn-based game of the year.

Now, I'm going to write this review in comparison to the original game that any 'old time' gamer has likely played as it was massively popular during its prime. The biggest mistake people who have not followed the development of the game make is assuming this is just an HD remake of the original. It isn't. It's a re-imaging, which means they took the concept and made their own game around it. Same world, most of the same aliens, a lot of the same weapons, but implemented in a new way.

All of the old mission types are still in this game, with the exception of one which is base defense. In its place there are a few new mission types: Bomb Disposal, VIP Escort, and Abduction. The ending is also different, there is no Cydonia, but I won't spoil it for you.

Bomb Disposal you have 3 turns to reach the bomb and disarm it before it blows, but there are power nodes scattered on the map that each one you reach will give you an extra turn.

VIP Escort you either have to find the VIP, then bring them back to the Skyranger or you start at the VIP and must fight your way back. As the VIP moves across the field, new aliens will jump in and must be killed immediately or there is a good chance the VIP will die.

Abduction missions are a simple deathmatch (kill all aliens) but ... they come at you three at once and you can only choose one to complete. This game is all about forcing you to make hard decisions. Each mission offers a different reward (ยง200, 4 Engineers, 4 Scientists, or a veteran soldier). Another factor is world wide panic, completing an abduction mission will reduce panic in that country, while the other two will increase in panic (along with the continents they are on). More on panic later, and also decisions.

Combat:

The 'Battlescape' is where combat takes place, you field a squad of 4-6 troops for each mission. Fans of the old game may cringe that this is half, or less than half, but they make up for it in that each troop has a class. Assault (up close and personal), Heavy (rockets and machine gun), Support (medic/buffer), and Sniper (Long Range). Every class has a skill tree so you can customize how they specialize. The trees are not all that deep, only two choices at most ranks, with Squaddie and Major only offering one choice (their signature abilities).

So does that mean your guys are super soldiers instead of easily one shot killed fodder? Nope... While they can do far more than the original game soldiers, they will still die fairly easily to mistakes. Combat in this game is heavily cover based, while the original game had no cover. No cover? None at all, it had concealment and there is a difference.

Geoscape:

This is now referred to by the developers and the community as the ant farm, and is a cross section view of your base as the main screen, while in the original game the main screen was the globe. Here you manage your base, manage your soldiers, manage aircraft, manage research, and manage manufacturing.

While you only have one base, you do have 4 other interceptor bases that you need to station fighters in to protect your satellites. Satellites are your radar, they are needed to detect UFOs. So, in the old game you build new bases to expand radar coverage and get interceptors in range. In the new game you build satellites to expand coverage and assign interceptors to continents to protect them as the aliens can, and will, attempt to destroy your satellites. Satellites are VERY expensive and take a long time to build, protect them with your life. The loss of a satellite will instantly max out panic for that country, and increase panic for the entire continent. It is VERY bad news.

Intercepting UFOs is a little different, instead of choosing how close you want to get you instead can use one time use items to boost your aim, dodge, or time to intercept. You will not get these immediately but must research and build them. You can only send a single interceptor at a time, unlike the original game which let you send multiple ships for larger UFOs. Honestly, this part of the game feels under developed, they could have done a lot more with this.

Money is extremely tight in this game, and there is no way to 'game' the system like in the old game and build up a manufacturing powerhouse that can fund itself even if the funding nations pull out. You will need every funding country you can get! This forces you to make a choice of what to build because you will never have enough money for it all until late game. And you are so limited you pretty much only get a single choice per game month in the early stages. Choose well!

The ant farm is also where you manage panic levels. Each country has a panic meter, and if it is full at the end of a game month that country will leave the council. Loose 8 countries and it is game over, this is the only way to lose the game. There are many ways panic can rise or fall. I'll talk a little more on this in the next section on difficulty. In short though, panic will rise faster than it falls and satellites are necessary to have any sort of control.

Difficulty:

The game comes with 4 modes: Easy, Normal, Classic, and Impossible. In addition you can enable an optional setting called "Ironman" which will not allow you to make custom save files, you only get a single auto-save. In Ironman Mode there is no undo button when you make a mistake, you must live with your choices good or bad. You can still quit the game and load up your save, you just can't hit the reload button if you get your squad killed.

Easy and Normal are both frankly fairly easy. You'll be punished for mistakes in Normal, but the game scales itself back big time with a dumber AI and limiting the number of aliens you will fight at any give time. If you stumble upon too many, it will have a group fall back into the fog of war.

Classic however is a real kick in the pants. It was played up as for experts of the original game ... but even so you will get dominated most likely. The difference between Normal and Classic is massive. Not only do enemies have a little more health (you would be surprised how much a single hit point can change things), but the AI is fully unlocked, there is no limit to the number of aliens that will attack you, and they have better aim and critical chance. You may very well learn to fear the simple Thin Man alien that has insane aim and crit chance. Your troops are more likely to panic as well. The loss of a veteran squad of troops can very well mean the loss of the entire game as your rookies will be hard pressed to survive without anyone to support them. Honestly, this game is far harder than the original game.

The other challenge with Classic/Impossible is managing panic. On these upper difficulty settings panic rises faster from failed missions and abduction missions. You will likely lose some, probably a lot of them, and the best you can hope for is not losing more than 7 before you finish the game. That said, on Classic it is possible to save them all, but this partially depends on luck for where Abduction missions occur. It is speculated that on Impossible it literally is not possible to keep panic low enough to play forever, the only way to win is to finish the games objectives before too many countries bail on you. The 'strategy layer' (Geoscape/ant farm) may very well prove to be far more difficult for you than the tactical game.

For you X-COM vets out there, swallow your pride if Classic kicks your butt, and give Normal a go until you learn the new games mechanics. I know I had to.

Graphics and Sound:

The game uses the Unreal engine, so graphics are on par with that. I think they're pretty decent, but they will not blow you away. The music and sound effects are both good, you still get that creepy feeling as you hear aliens moving around in the dark wondering if they'll wander onto your guys while they're all out of ammo or if you have another turn to reload before you find them.

PC requirements for the game are fairly low so most should be able to play it if they have anything about the integrated HD graphics that comes with the intel i series (i3, i5, i7).

Controls:

This may be the only sore spot for PC players, the interface isn't the best and clearly was designed around console controllers. You can change key bindings, but until you learn the interface it can be a little frustrating. The use of a gamepad is fully supported (and probably easier to play with).

Multiplayer:

I can't speak on this as I have not played it. What I know though is there is only a Deathmatch mode, no co-op or objective based multiplayer. A game is set up with a set 'point' pool and a time limit for turns. You then 'buy' units with your points. If you would rather, you can set points to be unlimited and make the best squad possible (of course your opponent will do the same). You can use both humans and aliens in a mixed squad, or go all human or all alien. For humans you can customize their gear and select a perk package. The perks are not individually selectable.

Play Time:

The play time for this game is fairly short for a strategy game. Around 15-20 hours of so for an Easy/Normal playthrough if you keep trucking along and don't reload your game every time something bad happens. For Classic, add 5-10 hours. You may say this is short in relation to the old game, but keep in mind that people have beat the old game in under 10 minutes. The times I give are for a fairly complete game, it's possible to finish it faster, and it is also possible to keep playing for as long as you like (provided you can keep panic under control).

Conclusion:

The game is pretty solid. The game does have its fair share of bugs. There has been one patch so far, but it only fixed a few issues known before the game came out. I have in my 52 hours of playtime encountered one game stopping bug. I was able to recover from it, but not without some cost to my game. The bug involved my interceptors and I was forced to dismiss all of mine from one of my bases which resulted in a UFO getting missed and a satellite destroyed, ouch! You may or may not want to hold off doing Ironman (mine was) until some patches if you want to play it safe.

Be careful of a lot of false rumors out there, for example IGN was unhappy that aliens were all static and didn't patrol around. Well, I can account personally on how false that statement is. They can and do patrol! Depends a lot on the mission type you are one. Some groups are static (don't move) while others are dynamic (they patrol). The council missions are all static (VIP and Bomb), while Terror missions are all dynamic. The others are a mix of the two.

The game is highly rated, and it deserves it in my opinion. This is a game I will continue to play many times as I try to at least beat Classic Ironman, if not Impossible.

Steam is required no matter what PC version you get (digital or physical) so be aware of that. It employs a one time online activation, after which you can put steam into offline mode and continue to play. You may install it as many times as you want, on as many computers as you want. Of course, you can only play on one at a time.

Good Luck Commander!

90

Some of the best fun you can have with yourself (or a friend)

Prozac | Dec. 8, 2012 | Review of Saints Row: The Third dns

This game gets it. It values your precious time and doesn't look to pad the experience with endless, unenjoyable filler. I can't think of a game that has better matched the soundtrack to the environment, action and moment. All in all one of the Best games I've played in the last year. Support THQ so there can be a Saints Row 4!