Reviews by asbath

95

The most surprising fun I've had in a long while

asbath | Nov. 19, 2013 | Review of Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed

Let me start off this review with this preface: this game is ineffable amounts of fun with friends. On its own, however, it really is only "meh" because it doesn't do anything new or terribly exciting.

A couple friends bought the 4-pack on sale, and we split them up to play together. We spent about 6 consecutive hours laughing our butts off and having an absolute blast. We normally play games which require unadulterated amounts of violence, swearing at one another, and in general large complicated games. This game caught all by surprise at how simple yet fun it is.

The game mechanics are pretty good. There are a few bugs that came up during the game that ruined someone's race, but ultimately they are not game breaking bugs in a multiplay setting. For example, upon transitioning from plane to boat mode, I once "fell off" the track even though I shouldn't have. This cost me a couple of spots, but that's really nothing when you're having a good time.

I don't have a controller (yet), so the controls were a bit odd, but understandably close to each other: arrows control direction, L Shift is accelerate, A/D roll, L Ctrl fires the weapon, and Space drifts. The control scheme is a bit spread out, but understandably so as I would imagine they made them "kid "friendly".

The graphics were pretty bland, but colourful. The maps had lots of animation that made for some fun times. I can't really complain about the graphics for a game, though, that doesn't necessarily require top-end graphics engines. It's a racing game with SEGA characters: why bother?

The music is fun, but a bit loud. Luckily you can change the audio settings from the Launcher - this is especially recommended if you're going to have voice chat with your friends.

The maps are varied, and full of twists and turns, but it's another racing game for kids: expect nothing special here. There are some interesting transitions between sections, so it can be slightly disorienting when moving from car to plane, plane to boat, etc. You get used to it after the first couple of transitions, but be aware that it can really throw you off the first few times.

Finally, despite some of the blandness in the game, it's still amazingly fun. On its own the game is nothing special. It really requires that you play this online with friends, because you can banter and insult each other (politely) as you catch up and whack them with a swarm of bees or a drone and take their spot. Or you can drift around a long bend and use the boost to pass someone just ahead of you before reading the finish line.

96

Bone Crunching fun adventure

asbath | Nov. 13, 2013 | Review of Batman Arkham City: Game of the Year

This takes the original Arkham title and brings it to a whole new level. Between the large city that you can freely roam through and the different side missions you can complete (not to mention all the collectibles and achievements), this is a game that keeps you coming back for just a little bit more.

First and foremost, the combat is a bit of a drag: it feels almost like a QTE, where if you time your punches correctly, it's impossible to die and even possible to never get hit once. Most of the combat is strictly "punch, counter, punch punch, counter, takedown", with a bit of dodging and gadgetry in between. The combat system itself is actually rather seamless, it lets you really string together punches and kicks without much effort and thought, but it makes fighting baddies too easy.

The voice acting is superb, like before, with names like Hamill, Baker, Lamarche and Brooks. I'd wager my Steam collection for someone to find a single fault in the voice acting in this game (save for the repetitive one-liners that idle enemies spout out every so often).

The city is an "sandboxed open world" as I like to call it: it's large enough that you can really roam around with complete freedom and do just about anything you want to do, but it's also small enough that you can clearly see its physical boundaries. And those boundaries feel just right: it's a prison city, it shouldn't have a massive map like a Fallout or Elder Scrolls game. Moving around the map is a lot better than most adventure games because you can use Batman's gadgets to whiz around and have some fun.

As stories go, the main missions can be a bit bland as they are mostly "fetch item" quests in disguise. Luckily they are relatively well plotted such that there's menial combat tossed in around every corner so it prevents it from being a boring fetch item quest. Then again, as mentioned above, combat is rather lackluster so it can become repetitive really quickly. However, as the game has adopted an open world policy, you can choose the complete missions in different ways like attempting to stealthily take down the bad guys or just go running in, fists blazing.

All of that aside, Arkham City is a fantastic game. There are so many things that this game does right, and very few that it stumbles on. The only thing I can ding the game for is the overly simple combat - I guess that's just a side effect from porting it from a console. You could literally spend weeks in the game just beating up thugs in the streets and solving Riddler's riddles without ever completing the main story. It has so many things in it that make it a complete game that's definitely worth your time and money.

80

Counterstrike with a decent twist

asbath | Nov. 5, 2013 | Review of Brink

I was never a big fan of Counterstrike style games, because of its severe simplicity. Yet I was drawn to more over-the-top style arena games like Unreal Tournament because it was given to you in a balls to the wall manner.

Brink takes both games and gives you a product that successfully gives you both, but in a package that could have used more refinement. While the game has a few rough edges, they're not enough for the sad demise it suffered. I felt t hat it was a good game that had a lot of potential.

The weapons system is pretty great - simply select a weapon and earn and attach certain mods to it that increase or change the way the weapon works. Select a class and use it to your advantage depending on your play style or strategy. It takes the CQC style maps of Counterstike, but gives you the ability to go on a bloodbath rampage like Unreal Tournament: death is not permanent nor a massive disadvantage to your team.

The maps and the single player campaign were pretty generic, but they were done well enough. Despite the generic FPS experience, I still think it did a great of job marrying the Counterstrike experience with the Unreal Tournament violence.

90

Second verse, same as the first

asbath | Nov. 5, 2013 | Review of Max Payne II: The Fall of Max Payne

While this game is fantastic on its own, it's really just more of the same of Max Payne 1, but with better technology driving it. The voice acting is still top notch, the graphics are wonderful, and the technical gameplay (shooting, dodging) is also great. But it's not that much of an improvement over the first game, it's more like a perfect sequel instead. The story is equally as enthralling and full of twists, but it doesn't really add that much more to it - which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Adding the romantic character, and being able to use her too, was a great mechanic to the overall narration.

I want to give a full 100, but because it doesn't really do anything new from the first game, I just don't feel like I can give it a perfect score. I understand that this is a heavily story driven game, but I felt that Remedy could have introduced some more new mechanics and features to really take this game to the next level.

100

Story telling like no other

asbath | Nov. 5, 2013 | Review of Max Payne

This isn't your usual shooter game, and it helped re-define the genre. Between the story narration and the introduction of bullettime, this game introduced more significant changes to the shooter style game than anything else in the past decade. This may have been the first game in a long while for the protagonist to realize that they are in a video game, and that was a really fun way to break that 4th wall.

Technically the game had some really tight shooting, but it was really on rails that meant that players couldn't really explore that much in the game. It's a really fast paced game, however, so I guess there isn't that much to explore anyways. Graphically this game really lags behind current games, but at the time of release it was something completely new and beautiful: explosions, falling objects, the bullet time effect while dodging, it was all really beautiful to be in the middle of.

The voice acting is fantastic, likely one of the best up until that time, and the sound effects were just as great. It was relatively environmental too: melting snow drips, traffic and the like.

As cliche as it is to say, this game was truly the Matrix of video games. Without a doubt, this title will be remembered as a milestone in the history of video games.

90

Great rogue-like for fans of the genre

asbath | Oct. 8, 2013 | Review of Teleglitch: Die More Edition

This is a rogue-like that I can see myself playing for years to come. It's a survivor horror game where ammo is scarce, enemies are brutal, and you'll die. A lot. And in ways so frustrating that you demand yourself to do better next time (only to do horrendously worse than before).

The game has barely anything in the visual and audio departments, but it more than makes up for these in the gameplay. It creates a truly frightful environment by physically blocking out areas that you cannot see, so you are constantly surrounded by blackness leaving you to determine whether you're ready to round that corner. Maybe there's nothing, maybe there's a horde ready to attack.

The game isn't for everyone: it's frustrating, it's time consuming, and it's always very different between different playthroughs. The gameplay is relatively simple in that you pick up items, slap them together if possible, and just keep on scrounging through everything for more ammo in order to survive.

One of the major benefits of the really basic graphics is that it requires barely anything to really run the game, and that means even the weakest of ultrabooks and Atom-based machines could run this game without any problems. An excellent solution for killing time in the airport with your less-than-stellar netbook (though not at high framerates)

75

Better follow up of AS

asbath | Oct. 7, 2013 | Review of Alien Shooter: Vengeance

This is another installment of Sigma's top-down shooter games, and it takes many attributes from the original Alien Shooters and drops them into this game. A lot of changes have been made, though the game is still essentially the same. Character leveling and weapons have been improved, but it still makes the game too easy. For example, the starting handgun is basically a hand cannon.

The campaign is certainly longer, so that's a bonus, though it's still a very short game. Graphic settings are interestingly non-existent (resolution + "show blood"), and don't seem to scale well to widescreen displays.

It's a solid arcade style shooter, but again like the other Alien/Zombie Shooter games from Sigma, the campaign is a bit on the short side. But the inexplicable number of monsters blowing up left, centre, and right of you more than make up for the short campaign.

60

Generic top down shooter

asbath | Oct. 7, 2013 | Review of Alien Shooter

This is the first top down shooter from Sigma games, and for the most part is a good time killer. Graphics and gameplay are about as simple and generic as they get, but they get the job done. Character leveling is pretty standard fanfare (get XP and money, level up character and buy more weapons), and the weapon selection is decent when you consider what kind of game it is. Weapons begin from "too powerful for the weakest gun" to an IDDQD "come get some" plasma chaingun.

Is it worth the $4? You can decide on that, but if you can snag it on sale it's at least worth as much as a single coffee - because that's how it takes to get through the campaign.

87

Addicting Roguelike

asbath | Oct. 7, 2013 | Review of Sword of the Stars: The Pit

Like any rogue-like game, this one drops you in the middle of it and expects you to learn on your own from dying - a lot. However, it throws a lot of bones your way from the get-go, so sometimes you'll be extremely well equipped to fight off death early on, or you'll be dead pretty soon.

As far as rogue-likes go, this one is pretty standard fare in how it procedurally generates levels and randomly spawns weapons and enemies. The enemies are pretty easy to defeat on their own, but they usually spawn in groups. Enemies seem to spawn based on your current level/stats so it's a fair game, which is a slight detriment to the game: it's a rogue-like, it should be more difficult and unforgiving :)

Despite the easier-than-normal difficulty, this is still an addicting game. From crafting recipes for food or weapons to figuring out which weapon to drop because your pack is full, this is a really fun sci-fi rogue-like. I especially enjoy the fact that no door is really "closed" because even if you cannot pick the lock or find the key, your trusty shotgun will always be your skeleton key.

85

Great game, better with friends

asbath | Oct. 4, 2013 | Review of Magicka

At firs this looked like another Torchlight/Diablo/isometric dungeon crawler spin-off, but boy was I wrong. The game on its own is fun and takes a lighthearted approach to the generic isometric RPG genre. Combat style isn't new (requiring you to combine different elements), but it's a nice change to the common slash and hack, and requires you to think on your toes in order to find that weak spot.

But to really enjoy the game, you need to play it with friends. At first you all start off all serious like, wanting to progress in the game. However, every single game with friends will always end up with you trying to kill each other in the most imaginative way possible. And that's the most fun you can have in this creative little spin-off.