Reviews by Pskult

90

Wins on charming alone

Pskult | April 20, 2011 | Review of World of Goo

World of Goo is an indie physics puzzler of the best kind. You build structures out of variously coloured gooballs, each with their own properties: black balls are the standard ones, green ones can be moved around after first placing them, etcetera. In addition to the gooballs, you can use balloons to buoy a bridge or even to bodily lift a structure and fly it through the air. The objective is to get to the end of the level with as many gooballs still 'unused' as possible (a bit like Lemmings in that sense). Later on the game will even be shook up completely, adding entirely new elements to your play (let's just say it goes a little meta).

Although its gameplay is addictive and very clever, what really sells World of Goo as a perfectly well-rounded product is its charm. The music is phenomenal (I mean that sincerely) and the story (told mostly via signs painted by the 'sign painter' in each level, plus a few cutscenes) although fairly simple, provides you with an impetus to continue exploring and advancing through the game, all the way to the quite ingenious ending. And when all is said and done, you can start building your giant tower towards the heavens and compete for tallest building with all your leftover gooballs. Perhaps not a game you can play through more than once, maybe twice for the perfect score, it's definitely worth its price even now, and will never be old or outdated thanks to its stylized graphics, great score, and great gameplay.

75

Worth it despite the FPS

Pskult | April 19, 2011 | Review of Cryostasis

I suppose there might be some monster machine somewhere that can run Cryostasis at a decent FPS, but mine could not - not even after lowering all the settings as far as they went (despite having a PhysX-compatible GPU, I might add). It's truly a shame, because Cryostasis is both a beautiful, and thought-provoking game with an extremely memorable end, and a unique game mechanic by which the protagonist (you) are capable of going back in time and changing the actions of the crewmen on the boat in order to both allow yourself to continue in the game, and to ultimately change the fate of the entire ship.

What brings Cryostasis down aside from the aforementioned FPS issue is the gunplay - it is not very good (although this might also have been because my frames were so poor). You are slow and sluggish and there is no crosshair, and ammo is scarce - in almost all cases I preferred to use my sturdy axe instead of any of the guns. In the beginning combat is horror-based, but towards the end it becomes rather old hat. I rushed through the combat areas in order to get to the next "mental echo" which also furthers the storyline. The storyline is what made me finish this game, the storyline and the ship itself (which is a story in itself). If Cryostasis' performance problem were ever solved, and more people would play it, I think this is a game that deserves an entry into the 'games as art' discussion. Try it for yourself and see - but, as mentioned, watch out for the performance issues.

89

Modern Hitman

Pskult | April 19, 2011 | Review of Hitman: Blood Money Capsule

As others have said, this Hitman is the most polished of them all, and for many who have started with this iteration going back to the earlier ones might feel like amputating a hand: there are just so many new features you start to miss, like the split-screen video used to show the movement of your targets or when a body is found, the sniper rifle in a suitcase, the upgradeable weapons, remote-controlled AP mines...the list goes on. And, naturally, the levels are very varied and inventive (in particular the Mardi Gras level, the Las Vegas hotel level and the AA clinic level really stuck to my mind), with multiple solutions, including a new "accident" mechanic whereby you can even leave the scene of the crime without anyone knowing a crime has even taken place.

That said, Blood Money is NOT the most challenging game of the Hitman series, and even if you're aiming for the perfect score (which now includes retrieving your suit and custom guns - a great addition) you shouldn't have too much trouble achieving it. In large part, this is because the AI is no longer suspicious of you when you're disguised: once you put on your security guard uniform, you can run around everywhere like a maniac and no-one will question you (even if you just ran out a second ago from a bathroom with a policeman you just strangled). This 'armor of anonymity' is the one unfortunate part of Blood Money, but perhaps it was necessary to allow for all the other additions. Either way, a very good buy!

85

The Hardest Hitman

Pskult | April 19, 2011 | Review of Hitman 2: Silent Assassin capsule

While Codename 47 could get pretty dicey at times, and Blood Money's ("Hitman 3") scenarios are considerably more complex, Hitman 2: Silent Assassin is, in my view, the most difficult of the three. To gain a perfect ranking, i.e. Silent Assassin, you can only kill your target(s) and a maximum of two others and never be seen (or even come into a 'close encounter' kind of situation).

Run instead of walk, and they will see you. Go too close to them, and they will realize you're not one of them. Stand still when you should be patrolling, and they will get suspicious. The guards in Hitman 2 are a trigger-happy and perceptive lot, making your every move while disguised inside the enemy base stressful. Often, you will replay and replay a single mission a hundred times until you know every patrol route by heart, just to get that Silent Assassin rating (which also nets you nice new weapons as a bonus!). The best part is, of course, that every mission CAN be replayed and solved a hundred different ways, so you will have hours upon hours of entertainment in this purchase. The negative parts are a somewhat lacklustre storyline, plus some rather annoying missions in the middle (once again), but overall if you enjoy the Hitman style of game, you will enjoy Hitman 2.

80

A Good Start

Pskult | April 19, 2011 | Review of Hitman: Codename 47 Capsule

This is the first game in the Hitman series, and the game I suggest everyone starts with - as long as they understand the game is over ten years old already, and that incredible advancements have been made since Codename 47. The main problem with this, the first Hitman game, is that many of the levels (especially the later ones, and a few in the middle taking place in the jungle) ignore what makes the gameplay so great, namely the silent and effective assassination of your target, in favour of simple gunplay. Played as a shooter, I wouldn't recommend Hitman to anyone. But played as it should - tactical, patient, silent - it's a true gem. That said, I still recommend Codename 47 to anyone interested in the series (if nothing else for the story, and the legendary final level!).

80

Bigger and Better Men of War

Pskult | April 9, 2011 | Review of Men of War: Red Tide Cap

Played MoW? Want more of the good stuff (the big battles, the destructible environment, the sense of fighting war on a bigger scale)? Then buy Red Tide, you won't be disappointed. The only unfortunate part is that Red Tide only focuses on the Soviet side, meaning you won't get to play with either the Allies or the Axis this time around - but that really shouldn't bother you as there's more than enough content here to go around.

You haven't played Men of War? I suggest you do so, then - it's an eminently playable, if very different kind of war strategy game. You will be incredibly frustrated if you try to play it on a macro scale, moving your men as if you were playing Company of Heroes or Starcraft. No, this is a game where every single soldier, tank, AT gun or armored vehicle needs to be carefully micromanaged as well as you can, and their every move executed with caution. Each soldier has an inventory, which can be used like in any RPG - you need to make sure they have ammo, grenades and health packs if you are to advance at all. Death is a matter of one or two bullets (for tanks, a single well-placed bomb will blow a track or destroy a turret, which will require repairs - or in a worst case scenario, destroy your vehicle outright). Cover will save your life, but buildings can easily be destroyed by a well-placed TNT charge or a tank rumbling through it. I don't think I can emphasize this point enough: practically everything is destructible, and oh my that destruction is beautiful.

That said, this is a punishingly difficult game, and not something for the casual player. Especially defence missions (of which there are plenty) can become incredibly frustrating as the enemy sends endless waves of tanks at you and your few AT guns. Sometimes it feels these missions rely more on luck (whether or not the shots from your AT gun merely glances off the armor of the approaching StuG, or if it penetrates and disables it) than skill - also they put your micromanagement skills to the test as you have to attach guns to trucks, get a driver in the truck, drive the truck to the right spot, deattach the gun, place the gun, and then do the same again and again all the while the enemy is amassing.

For that reason, attack missions is where this game shines, and Red Tide has more of them than MoW. Seeing your carefully planned attack come to fruitition is a wonder to behold. The spec-ops missions are also quite a bit of fun, but they can drag out into a long load-save fest, depending on how patient you are. But all things considered, this and its predecessor Men of War is definitely worth a play, if for no other reason than that they are unique in their genre. Not for the casual, easily frustrated player, however!