Reviews by connlasair

89

Xcom with beards

connlasair | Feb. 4, 2014 | Review of The Banner Saga

I stumbled upon this game by accident, but as a fan of turn-based combat, Xcom-like management and a steep difficulty curve I bought the Banner Saga right away. I am not at all disappointed. The game tells a story of varl (giants with horns) and humans as they struggle to survive in a dark time of dredge (stone-like figures) invasion. The player controls a handful of heroes leading a caravan that just tries to make it in the harsh reality of war. During the struggle the player faces myriad of difficult (often lose-lose) choices that are presented in a form of options in the dialogue box. The main characters also frequently engage in dialogues so we can learn their history, motivations and opinions. As a caravan leader, you must manage supplies (boy are they scarce!), morale of the entire group, the roster of fighters and how to spend renown points - the only currency in the game used to buy enchanted items or supplies, level up your fighters. Renown points are gained through winning battles and making dialogue choices. The combat is turn-based with a twist - the turns are always your character-enemy-your character-enemy and so forth, no matter the numbers. So you can have 6 fighters (maximum you can) against 3 enemies and it's always an even distribution of turns: you-them-you-them. I haven't made up my mind yet whether I like this system or not. It has both its advantages and disadvantages. There are five attributes: Health (the amount of punishment you can take and dish out. Lesser the health, lesser the damage output). Armor (block damage. your strength - their armor = damage). Willpower (points that grant a slight damage bonus, further movement or use of a special ability). Exertion (the amount of willpower you can spend on an action). Break (the amount of direct damage you can do to an enemy armor). Each stat is equally important and enhances the tactical aspect of the battles. The fighters come in different shapes. Varls are giants that take up 4 grids on the battlefield and humans are smaller and nimbler. As for classes you can have a spearmaster (can attack one grid away from the enemy and has the ability to impale), shieldmaster (attackim him drains armor), archer (for every point of armor the enemy lost the health damage increase), a mage even (called menders) and so on - each class has a special unique active ability (for instance taunt, which forces an enemy to attact the taunter) and one passive ability (i.e light step, which allows a character to swiftly move between big varls). The graphics are hand drawn are a pleasure to look at. Animations of the characters are very fluid and have a Disney feel to them. The music is definitely one of the highlights of this game - composed by Austin Wintory (known for the soundtrack to Journey) it sets a tone for the harrowing experience and fits perfectly to the snowy lands the game takes place in. I heard people complaining about how short the game is, but I can't really say that myself. The first playthrough took me 11 hours and I didn't even finished the game - I died in the beginning of the last chapter. Furthermore, I think the game has replay value, as you can make different choices and end up with a significantly different roster and problems along the way. Very much recommended.

70

The formula is there but some ingredients are missing

connlasair | Feb. 4, 2014 | Review of Batman Arkham Origins

Let me start off by saying that this is a solid game in its own right. The story is tight and it took me 20 hours to finish not counting challanges. The game unfolds pretty much in the same manner as Arkham Asylum and Arkham City - there is roaming around the map, some fighting, then a stealth scenario and then a detective segment. The detective segment is overhauled to be more immersive and spectacular but honestly, it does not really leave a strong impression. I found stealth missions a bit lacking, mainly because of the level design. As for the fighting - good as always. though late in the game the player obtains a gadget that's way too overpowered, taking a lot of the challange from the fights. Of course, one can just not use it, but it's still there and sometimes I even triggered it accidentaly! What truly shines and it's probably better than in Arkham City is boss fights. Every boss fight is amazing, creative and very well presented. I do have a few complaints though. For the first time in the series we have an entire city to our disposal and it feels empty. Only villains roam the streets and there is no particular reason why certain types of bad guys are in a certain part of city. In Arkham City, it was fleshed out - villains controlled parts of the town and fought for the territory. Also, the chatter is somewhat uninteresting in Arkham Origins. At some points of the game, the gameplay just felt tedious - it's hard to pinpoint why exactly but something is missing from the previous titles. Overall, there's little innovation and improvement here. Again, this is a solid game, but for an Arkham City fan it may be a dissappointment. I got Arkham Origins as a bonus to my video card. I recommend buying this game when a sale hits.

92

An experience.

connlasair | Nov. 30, 2013 | Review of Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

Brothers: a tale of two sons is something more than just a game - it's an experience that remains. The game is rather short (4 hours) and does not really have any challenge, but it is remarkable nevertheless. You play as one (or both) of the brothers and make your way through a seemingly ordinary, yet magical world. The burden on those boys is indeed heavy, their quest daunting and you, as a player feel that they have to overcome their weaknesses and muster more and more courage to push forward. There are some emotional moments here, as the brothers struggle to complete their quest. What's great about this game is that literally everyone can play and enjoy it. It is mature but at the same time it appeals the child's imagination. The game was specifically designed for a controller but a keyboard will do as well (however, it does control awkwardly sometimes). The key bindings (which can be changed) encourage co-op play and I think that's where the game truly shines - when you share the journey with someone you care for, sitting side by side, navigating two little boys through a stormy and beautiful adventure.

83

Same old Max in a new setting

connlasair | Nov. 30, 2013 | Review of Max Payne 3

I've been a Max Payne fan since the day the first game in the series was released back in 2001. I approached Max Payne 3 with caution and without high expectations, because I already assumed that Rockstar won't capture the specific atmosphere that made the previous installments shine. The game did not disappoint. The new setting (no more snowy nights in shady places) is figurative to the transition of Max Payne - a character we are given deep insight into, as Max comments bitterly on nearly everything that happens around him. The gameplay itself is tight, shooting mechanics and destructible environments make every firefight quite an experience, looking like it was an action movie sequence. The story gets a bit predictable midway through, but strong writing pushes it forward. Beside single-player (15-20 hours, depending how fast one plays, I was taking things slow) campaign, the game offers a lot of content to keep players occupied; there are time trials, collectibles and a very solid and intense multiplayer, which feature an intriguing choice of special abilities as well as different kinds of weapons. Overall, Max Payne 3 is a very solid game. Recommended.