Reviews by Squiffy

85

Great Classic Overseer Sim

Squiffy | Dec. 21, 2013 | Review of Startopia

I spent many hours with the original release of this game back in 2001. It was made by a team of ex-Bullfrog employees, the same people that gave us classics like Dungeon Keeper, Theme Hospital and Syndicate, and it shows. There is a great sense of depth in the simulation, lots of things to do, but it never gets overwhelming or confusing.

Definitely recommended for people who love to the "overseer" gameplay style; setting orders and places to build or do things and waiting for your workers to get around to it (assuming they're content and competent enough!) The graphics hold up fairly well given the age of the game, and it takes advantage of modern hardware thanks to DirectX (why is Steam abandoning this again?)

Now, a quick caveat. The company went out of business before fixing all the bugs after launch, though they did get most of them. The Steam version is patched to 1.01, but there are apparently still a few small bugs around. That being said, this version (as well as the original CD version) work great on current operating systems, including 64-bit. You may never hit or even notice a bug, but be warned it is an older game from a now-defunct company.

65

Fun But Formulaic

Squiffy | Sept. 27, 2013 | Review of Knights of Pen & Paper: +1 Edition - Deluxe Edition

For the first half hour of gameplay, you're introduced to the game's mechanics. Create your own combat encounters, pick up basic quests and complete them, travel between villages, etc.

The problem is, that's about all there is to the gameplay. Sure, there's tons of things to unlock. New classes and players and desktop stuff. But the gameplay never really gets any better.

I'm usually the first to jump at the defence of indie games, but this one just feels too shallow to me. The gameplay is very repetitive and can get boring fast, unless you're the kind that gets huge satisfaction out of purchasing unlocks.

Give it a shot if you don't mind repetition, but after my second play session I found that I just never went back to it. It doesn't feel like a D&D tabletop game; it feels like a generic RPG with lackluster quest and game mechanics. The story is intentionally bad because it's trying to be funny, but it tends to fall short at the comedy as well.

70

A Solid, Customizable Diablo-Like

Squiffy | June 13, 2013 | Review of Darkspore (NA)

Darkspore is a strange meshing of elements. The action gameplay is like Diablo; click for basic attacks, and a few hotkeys for powers with cooldowns as well as a big kaboom power that charges as you fight.

You pick a team of three heroes to use in your team. As you play, you unlock more creatures to play as and customize. Controlling one of your team at a time, and able to swap out with a cooldown means that you are able to adjust to different enemies or situations. Overwhelmed by ranged enemies? Swap to your fast character to dive in for the kill. Being meleed to death? Swap to your tank and AE them into the dirt.

Body parts (loot/gear) add stats as deep as you'd expect for an RPG, with rarity scale and class-specific benefits.

The game plays out of a lobby system including a chat and social interface. You can form your own groups via chat or queue up to do missions together. You gain increased rewards from doing subsequent missions together with your group.

All-in-all, it's a fun mix of collecting, customizing, looting and action. It suffers from a bit of confusion early on in how best to grow your squad, but finding people to play with is the key to making the game fun. Solo play can take a long time and get frustrating in later levels.

90

Sandbox God Replay Heaven

Squiffy | May 22, 2013 | Review of Reus

Reus is one of those rare games that just "gets it." They take a core concept, 4 Giants that can impact the world below them, and make it fun and challenging without making it too complex to understand.

There are four basic interactions you perform on the world: Terraforming to create areas of ocean, forest, swamp, desert and mountain. Seeding a section of land with a plant, mineral or animal. Giving that piece of land an Aspect, which affects the resources on it through evolving paths. Spells that help or hinder the world around.

From there, you try to manage the growth of human settlements, fulfilling requests for them and earning new powers. After each 30 minute game (at first, you unlock 60 and 120 minute variants as you progress) you earn a set of achievements based on how your villages performed. Achievements are what help unlock new evolution paths for the resources, as well as longer game modes.

It's a simple game, but it's one of those games that you just keep going back to over and over to play in the sandbox.

75

Solid Third-PS, Nice Weapon-Crafting, Great Performance

Squiffy | Feb. 10, 2013 | Review of Dead Space 3: Limited Edition (NA)

From the previews, I expected to start up Dead Space 3 with disappointment. I was pleasantly surprised. Yes, it's not the horror game the first one was, but it's a fun third-person shooter with horror elements delivered by actors, text and atmosphere.

The best improvement in my mind is the inclusion of a new crafting system. Players can build multi-part weapons with a massive variety of functions that expand as you progress.

Example: Pick base frame size. Add primary weapon type (Plasma, Bullets, Spikes, Fire, etc) and slot it with a variety of nozzles to change how the projectile acts. Boosting one aspect lowers another, so making your Plasma Welder wide-arced will slow its fire rate and clip count, while slimming it down does the inverse.

Then stamp on a secondary weapon or function (chainsaw, rotator, etc) add some attachments and stat mods and you can experiment to your heart's content.

I was shocked by the game's performance, as well. I have two PCs, a $500 year-old laptop running Win8 and middling specs. It runs a decent number of games, but usually not well. I fully expected to only be able to play this on my desktop gaming rig, but it runs great on mediumish settings with AA off.

Game-wise, I'm about 5 hours in and enjoying it. There are new optional missions which can help earn new weapon parts or possibly new armour rigs. If you go into it expecting a creepy adventure, you'll be set. If you go in to have your gaming world turned upside down, or to be scared so hard you soil yourself, you may be disappointed.

85

Great, Deep Strategy - Iffy Engine

Squiffy | Feb. 1, 2013 | Review of Cities in Motion

NOTE: This game's engine was built in an era where people played games on powerful single-core processor computers. As such, it does not get the most power out of modern multi-core processors that sacrifice individual core speed for combined power. This game's bottleneck will likely be your CPU speed (GHz). Modest laptops will likely struggle, but any modest desktop or modern laptop will probably have no problem.

REVIEW: Cities in Motion is a superb game for any strategy enthusiast. I'm no hobby train man or anything of the sort, but I've always enjoyed a good building simulation, and figured I'd give it a shot.

Depending on campaign settings and DLC, you will start a map in the early days of public transit, and thus the city you're playing in will be less built-up than modern day. As more technology unlocks, and depending on how your various routes perform, it can affect the way residential and commercial areas of the city grow over the decades.

It's definitely a game of nuance and micromanagement and lots of patience. It can take a long time to see large-scale route creation help out your riders, as they will have to learn to adjust their routes to compensate. As your routes provide more reliable service to a wider audience, you will see road traffic shrink, meaning faster service.

However, throwing too many buses on a line will cause problems, as your buses often slow down traffic. Learning how and where to place your stops and adjusting your routes and vehicles over the years to accommodate emerging traffic patterns keeps the game interesting. A series of missions as you play help guide your transit system to the future and reach high-demand areas.

I definitely recommend grabbing as complete a pack as is available if you can luck out on a sale, or at the least, try out the core game first. There isn't a lot of excitement to it but if you're a fan of SimCity games, the Anno series or others that have little or no combat, it's worth a look. You may just end up hooked!

85

Top-Notch Psychological Thriller

Squiffy | Jan. 24, 2013 | Review of Condemned: Criminal Origins

This game was an early title on the Xbox 360, and it was very under-rated for what it is. Don't go into it expecting Amnesia-level scares, nor Sherlock Holmes-depth of detectiving.

At its core, Condemned: Criminal Origins is a movie-like psychological thriller. It has its corny moments, but it has a competently twisting plot to keep you paying attention. Add to that first-person brawling combat with blocking, kicks and combos, makeshift melee weapons and bits of gunplay. What you end up with is an intense fighting experience when played at the right difficulty levels; remember, a game won't feel tense if you don't die once in a while!

The detective work mentioned is somewhat low-depth, but fun. You investigate important places or objects typically by passing a light over them to look for evidence, then taking a picture by aligning arrows to get it in focus. The key is discerning what is useful.

In the end, it's an enjoyable experience. The combat is raw and intense, not "Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots 3D" as seen in Skyrim. The story is interesting and twisted, the enemies and even your own character are well-fleshed.

Not an amazing game, but a good one. I would definitely recommend it to people who enjoy creepy, atmospheric horrors over blood and gore horror. I rented it once, finished it, then bought it a while later to enjoy it again on PC.

85

A Unique, Evolving Experience

Squiffy | Dec. 4, 2012 | Review of Towns

I've been dabbling with Towns over the past year or so since buying it in an Indie pack in Desura.

Be warned, this game is constantly evolving and shifting, so expect to see some aspects of the game break and fix over time. But the beauty is, also expect to see lots more content and gameplay additions!

Towns works similar to Dungeon Keeper games; you say what areas you want dug, chopped, planted, built, etc and your minions follow the orders over time at their own pace with no direct interaction.

There are a wide variety of building types, and the game thrives on the oldschool strategy game production flow mechanics. Till the soil to plant wheat to grind into flour to bake into bread with water from a well. And that's just a simple resource conversion.

On top of the building and farming, there is adventure. Digging underground leads to hordes of spiders, goblins and more evil. Gear up your guards with crafted or looted armours and weapons and watch your town thrive.

It's definitely a game of patience, learning and some steep difficulty at times. Mismanaging your food production can lead to your town starving to death. But it's a rewarding difficulty, and the game is constantly improving.

Cannot recommend it enough. It's been great watching the game develop.

80

Great Games, Not GOTY Editions

Squiffy | Nov. 14, 2012 | Review of Mass Effect Trilogy (NA) DNS

I'm mildly disappointed in this release. I bought all three games at launch, gobbled up the DLC and loved every minute of them, so I'm definitely recommending the games.

But keep in mind that this is NOT a full package.

Mass Effect 1 includes its DLCs. Mass Effect 2 and 3 come with what came in the original boxes; Cerberus pass for a few DLCs for ME2, and the online pass and whatnot for ME3.

After that, there's another $40+ in DLC available to buy.

In the long run, I suppose it's still cheaper than buying them separately, but if you own any of the games already, I'd consider buying the ones you're missing instead.

95/100 for the games, but -15 points for the incomplete package they were put into. You don't make a trilogy pack and then sell DLC on top of it.

75

Good Game, DLC Clarification

Squiffy | Sept. 26, 2012 | Review of Burnout Paradise: Ultimate Box (NA) DNS

This is an excellent game; it's a free-roamer's dream. Every intersection has an event, as well as a ton of leaderboard-style challenges that will pop up as you roam (fastest to go from X to Y, mostly.) There are hidden routes to find, billboards to smash, friends' times to beat and loads of smashy goodness.

Now, for some quick clarification on the DLC. As Roket mentioned, not all of the DLC will be available to you. This is not because of false advertising, but because EA shut down the DLC servers. If they were still up, you'd be able to download them just fine.

I've heard there are ways to force the game to unlock all the DLC through savegame modification, but I wasn't bothered enough to care about a few different cars. I'd be happy with just the base game.

So, the game itself I'd give a 90 or higher, but because EA loves shutting down servers and discontinuing support for games far too soon, they lose out on some points for that.

Like I said; still a great game without all the DLC.

90

Intense, Action-Packed Co-op!

Squiffy | Feb. 27, 2012 | Review of Syndicate - US & Canada DNS

I cannot get over how fun the Co-op in this game is. The whole CHIP system really works great to break the monotony of typical shooter mechanics. The ability to use your Breach (hack) ability remotely while still shooting makes the gameplay feel more like multitasking.

Breaching enemy armour or shielding to drop their invincibility, using your abilities to grant buffs to your allies or cripple your enemies. Tossing a heal to a buddy while blasting at the enemy that's almost killing him. There are many ways that allied Agents help each other out and working together in this game is key to beating off the higher difficulty modes and the bosses.

The upgrade system is pretty unique and interesting, as well as the Syndicate (clan) system built into the game which includes leaderboards and Syndicate challenges.

Enemies come in many varieties and offer a true challenge. Push yourself to greater challenges (and rewards!) by trying it on a harder difficulty, or with fewer Agents at your side.

If you're looking for a fun, challenging and action-packed co-op shooter, I cannot recommend this game enough. The campaign is supposedly only about 6 hours long, but that's about par for the genre these days. The real meat is in the multiplayer.

80

Underrated and Fun

Squiffy | Feb. 12, 2012 | Review of The Darkness II dns

A lot of the reviews I've seen out there expect too much of this game. Yes, it's shorter than some games out there. The people saying they finished it in 4 hours were probably playing on the easiest setting because I'm 6 hours in so far and haven't finished it yet.

At the end of the day, it's got a good story, it's guilty, gory fun action and it has a New Game+ mode that allows you to replay with your bought upgrades. The multiplayer mode is a neat diversion, though it suffers from people working to hog as many points as possible instead of exhibiting any teamwork.

If you're looking for a fun game with story, it's worth picking up. If you're expecting the best shooter game you've ever played in your life that totally revolutionizes the gaming industry as a whole (like most reviewers seem to want,) then give it a pass.