Reviews by darkyhbk
Downward slopingdarkyhbk | Aug. 18, 2013 | Review of Empire: Total War
Empire Total War, while still a great game in itself, fails to live up to the standards of the previous two and ends up swimming in a sea of mistakes and flaws which weren't there before. Graphically, it is an improvement, although the strategic map seems a lot less friendly and intuitive, while the colours are not as well chosen. However, the biggest problem consists in the simplifying of core areas, such as building upgrades, or the diplomacy system. There's only a very limited number of buildings to choose from, everything else being upgrades to those 4 or 5 base buildings per settlement. I really resent this. Diplomacy feels less personal and more robotic, while a lot of incentives to play are not there anymore. A good thing are the naval battles, nicely designed, very realistic and atmospheric, but this is not an excuse for neglecting a lot of core areas of the game which were previously sound. Too bad, there was huge potential.
Best Total Wardarkyhbk | Aug. 18, 2013 | Review of Medieval II: Total War
Medieval II is, in my humble opinion, the best and most polished Total War game to date, despite its release in 2006. Graphically, it was a huge improvement over Rome, both the strategic map and the actual battlefields looking gorgeous. The soldier cap has been further increased, leading to some truly epic battles. The sound goes hand in hand here, with noises made by each unit individually - the march of heavy infantry is both awesome and intimidating, for instance. Gameplaywise, you have a lot of improvements. Building upgrades are much smarter and heavily depend on both the size and type if settlements- castles offer more protection, but less income per turn than settlements. There are more types of agents and they work more smoothly, while diplomacy is also much more natural. While the core gameplay is the same, there's also the relationship with the Pope to consider if you're a Catholic state, as well as the burden of balancing religion- a much harder task than in Rome. All in all, this is the most complex and polished piece of art that Creative Assembly have done, and one you should not miss, under any circumstances.
Incredible !darkyhbk | Aug. 18, 2013 | Review of Rome: Total War
Rome Total War was my first Total War game, and, despite the steep learning curve for a newcomer to the genre, I was able to master the game after a couple of hours or so. The setting is in ancient times, and you can choose to play as a number of states, the standout being Roman families, or the Greek States. They're all placed in different locations and contexts, and have unique units and strategies to use, this greatly increasing replayablility. Also, there are short campaigns for each faction, where you need to occupy certain territories after a given number of turns, or you can play the big campaign, where you get tot conquer the whole map, if you can. You have to upgrade your conquered settlements, keep the population happy, distribute your soldiers well, choose the right successors in leadership, using the right agents in the right situations, keeping an aye out on diplomacy, and a whole lot of other tasks, apart from the battles you'll fight. The game gives you loads of stuff to do and think about in each turn, and that's highly addictive. The game's graphics are really good, as you can zoom in very close to your units, and the game runs well even with tens of thoulsands of soldiers on the battlefield, which is fantastic. The music is also great, and the sound effects are really believable, heavily contributing to the game's almost flawless atmosphere. Highly recommended !
Incredibly big and diversedarkyhbk | Aug. 18, 2013 | Review of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
GTA San Andreas pushed everything the series had previously achieved, to an incredible extent of variety and size. About 4 times bigger than III and Vice City combined, San Andreas offers an absolutely unprecedented experience. Graphically, there is a certain improvements in most aspects, except character designs, which have really low textures. However, the environments are incredibly diverse, ranging from a hot urban area in Los Santos, a temperate one in San Fierro, the forests in-between the two, and the deserts from Las Venturas. Every location feels different and has its own personality, which is charming, really. The sound is a again great. The voice acting and incredible soundtrack are the best things to be said about this, and although the game would have benefited from more sound effects, it's still a great job. The story is more mature, but still has its funny moments and trademarks of the series, but the standout thing here is the gameplay. There are a number of RPG elements introduced, such as skills for driving or shooting, the necessity to eat regularily, and much more. You can change your clothes piece by piece, get tattoos and new hairstyles, and a lot others. There's incredible variety in everything, making it a world you won't want to leave.
More colourful and atmosphericdarkyhbk | Aug. 18, 2013 | Review of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
After a superb GTA III, Rockstar changed the setting and the timeline a bit and managed to deliver an even better experience. Which was quite something, considering GTA III's utter brilliance. Vice City is more colourful, and has a much more relaxed atmosphere than the sobriety from III. The palette is wonderfully chosen, and Vice City, recreated after an 80's Miami, with its colourful lights, expensive yachts and sportcars, looks absolutely fantastic. Also, the soundtrack is even better, with 70s pop songs, 80s heavy metal, reggae and a very amusing chat station. The voice acting is much better than in III, the main character has a voice actor now, and all characters are much better written and the cutscenes are more amusing. The story is a mix between Miami Vice, Scarface and Carlito's Way, and it is much more enjoyable than the previous one. Although the city is considerably smaller, there are more activities to do, and the space seems much better used than in III. You can buy different properties, such as an ice-cream factory, or a taxi HQ, The missions are much more diverse, and feel better designed than the previous ones. All in all, it's a better game in almost every aspect, and one certain to entertain everybody.
Mother of sandboxdarkyhbk | Aug. 18, 2013 | Review of Grand Theft Auto III
GTA III was my first sandbox action game, and it was an unforgettable experience for me. The liberty to go wherever you wanted and do whatever you wanted was just mindblowing at that time. And the game does have a lot of content to offer. A big city split into three islands, filled with missions which range from shooting bad guys to racing and car chases, challenges, collectibles, vehicle deliveries and activities like taxi or ambulance cases all managed to keep you occupied and hooked in. The story, while predictable, is a fine tribute to action movies, and has all you want to see in such a game. The cutscenes are well designed, and offer some funny moments, as do some of the characters you meet, despite lacking personality and depth. The soundtrack is also one of the best around, offering radio stations for everyone's taste, from 70's pop to reggae, and from opera to hard rock- great stuff. The great design, and amazing liberty, none of them previously seen around, made this an absolute gem of the genre, and a true standard in videogaming.
Great, but not nearly as good as the firstdarkyhbk | Aug. 17, 2013 | Review of Mafia II
Mafia is my favourite game of all time, so I had really high expectations from Mafia 2, considering the lengthy production time. Mafia II is a fantastic action game in itself, but pales in comparison when coming against its predecessor. The graphics are really amazing, and the game treats you with some of the best cutscenes ever made- it's a pleasure to watch them. Everything looks fantastic, from the snow on the roads to explosions and character faces. The sound is also brilliant- perfect quality and variety of effects, alongside a great and perfectly chosen soundtrack, much of it consisting in jazz and blues, and some of the finest voice acting present in a videogame. The story is a mature one, featuring a number of really jaw-dropping moments, and some really brutal ones, as well as a number of laughs. However, it is not nearly as good as Mafia's story, which is really in a league of its own. The gameplay is exactly what a Mafia game should be, sacrificing GTA's complexity in favour of more storytelling, which is fine by me. Although it is all very solid, the attention to little details that Mafia showed, such as having to stop at red lights, speeding above a limit or simply blinking your lights when turning, is gone, and none of the moments seem as memorable as in the first game. Again, Mafia II is a fantastic individual game, but just not as good as I'd hoped it would be.
Brutal and satisfyingdarkyhbk | Aug. 17, 2013 | Review of Dark Sector
Dark Sector is an entertaining third person shooter, where you find yourself in a sci-fi world, up against a number of human and mutant foes. The weapons you can use are diverse, and you can upgrade both them and your special abilities to help you in combat. You also get a kind of metal boomerang, which is quite useful both in combat, for stunning enemies for instance, and in solving puzzles where you need to flip switches from a distance. While combat is generally good and entertaining, offering some brutal executions and tense firefights, the puzzles, most based on flipping switches at the right time or in the right order- are tedious and boring. The story is not too great, and although the setting is decently designed, none of the characters stand out, and the journals you find scattered along levels don't really add much substance to it. The graphics are nice enough, sporting a number of good effects and decent physics models, while the sound is OK - not bad, not good. All in all, this short game can give you a number of satisfying moments if you can get past the frustrating ones.
Superb, but with some flawdarkyhbk | Aug. 17, 2013 | Review of Hitman: Absolution
Hitman Absolution has all the ingredients necessary for a really great game. Its graphics are really solid, with some nice effects and high-res textures, and solid facial animations. The sound is also great, with probably the best voice acting in the series - absolutely fantastic work by the actors- and some great music, although the developers switched the composer. The storyline, although at times it tries too hard to dramatize and impress, is intriguing to say the least, but it throws so many cool bad guys at you, that none of them feel exploited to their full potential- save maybe one. They could have been much, much more, since the potential was there. Otherwise, it's quite predictable. The gameplay mechanics are more solid than ever, with a diverse enough arsenal of weapons and gadgets. However, the levels have been split into very small sections, and this feels quite artificial and kills a lot of the atmosphere. The approaches, though, are even more diverse than in Blood Money, and you can choose to accomplish each objective however you see fit. The only drawback is the blend-in kind of system, with the help of which you can absurdly get out of situation from which you can't in a believable cover- you get spotted much too easily that way. Otherwise, there are no complaints about Absolution. You also get a contact editor, where you can create missions and play other player-made ones. This is a nice touch,and, although it has its limitations, it lengthens the game's life and offers even better value for money.
Best in the seriesdarkyhbk | Aug. 17, 2013 | Review of Hitman: Blood Money
Hitman Blood Money is arguably the best Hitman entry in the series, mainly thanks to its very well designed and diverse content and excellent execution. The storyline is much more interesting and to a personal level rather than just a chain of missions with a few connecting cutscenes, heavily involving Diana Burnwood and developing 47 as a really interesting character. The storyline and outcome of missions, along with other information related to the plot can be read in newspapers, which can be accessed after each mission. This is a nice touch to read about your actions. The graphics area quite amazing, and diverse, with some superb lighting effects and very artistic landscapes. You'll do your job in urban and suburban areas alike, in office buildings, jungles and even the White House. All these levels are superbly designed, allowing for numerous ways to complete your objectives, both stealthy and action packed. The game is much more fluid, since the AI is greatly improved, and is movements feel much more natural. You also have the ability to customize weapons and equipment, which is a welcome addition. One thing which should not be forgotten is the soundtrack, composed by Jesper Kid again, which is absolutely fantastic. The voice acting is also top notch, and so ar the accompanying sound effects. Blood Money is probably the best stealth game in years, and should be enjoyed by anybody looking for such a challenge, or even some solid shooting action.
The weakest Hitman title, but not baddarkyhbk | Aug. 17, 2013 | Review of Hitman: Codename 47
Codename 47 is a great game mainly because it allowed its developers to learn from their mistakes and perfect the great gameplay idea they designed. You play as 47, a clone, and you'll spend most of your time trying to get through levels and assassinate your targets. When the gameplay works, it's quite good fun, but most of the time you'll run into bugs, from getting stuck into a wall to a blocked enemy and such. Sometimes enemies spot you too easily, otherwise they fail to spot you even when you're walking past them. It's really annoying and it breaks the immersion. The design is also not the best, but it was used as a springboard for the much more inspired ones in later games. However, Codename 47 does offer you quite a few weapons and items to do your job, and has a number of really interesting moments. Sadly, not enough. All in all, the dated graphics and few sound effects might be a drawback to play the game today. If you really want to play all the games in the series, you might enjoy it, but otherwise, I say skip it and go right to Silent Assassin.
Classydarkyhbk | Aug. 17, 2013 | Review of Hitman 2: Silent Assassin
Hitman Silent Assassin was the game which the first Hitman only aspired to be. It has stealth, it has action, and enough dramatic storyline to please fans of both genres alike. The story is maybe not the most unpredictable of plots, but it's good enough, with a few twists and turns to keep you going, and the missions are nicely linked. The graphics were great for the time, and the levels were varied enough, taking place in urban locations, snowy bases and such to give enough different and interesting places to practice your craft in. The sound is magnificent, with a fantastic soundtrack composed by Jesper Kyd, and some good work with the other effects and voices as well. The game can be played both guns-blazing, for which you have enough different weapons to be successful, yet you still need to plan your cover points before. Then there is the stealth play, which is incredibly varied and complex, offering you enough methods and items to take out your victims silently, or get dressed as one of the roaming NPCs and slip by. It's great fun and offers quite a bit of replayability. Well, at least more than half of the levels do. So, I recommend Silent Assassin as a starting point to the Hitman series. Skip the buggy and messy Codename 47 and get this one for some real entertaining couple of hours !
Great, fast-paced and addictivedarkyhbk | Aug. 17, 2013 | Review of Survivor Squad Cap
Survivor Squad is a mix between an action game and a real time tactics one. You'll take control of a number of different characters and have them pass through randomly designed levels, while fighting the undead. The graphics style is minimal, but very well designed nontheless. Low-res textures are masked by the prevailing darkness, a flashlight being the only way you can see around you. However, the action is so fast-paced, that you'll always be on the lookout for zombies, and will care less about a few design errors. The minial sound effects are also used very smartly, managing to scare you when you least expect it. The gameplay has a great emphasis on squad play- only if you equip, your characters accordingly and use them , as a team, will you survive. A zombie can jump you from each dark corner, so you have to be permanently aware and keep everyone covered at all times. This might be hard at first, but within an hour or two you'll get used to it and it will seem very natural. You'll still encounter new, special enemies, but again, once you learn how to deal with them, you'll be fine. In a nutshell. Survivor squad is a great game, in which you need fast reflexes and a tactical thinking in order to survive inits zombie infested world.
Keeps you playingdarkyhbk | Aug. 17, 2013 | Review of Still Life
Still Life might not be the best adventure game out there, but there's a certain touch of the storyline which has you hooked throughout. You'll investigate crimes both in a modern day American city, and a 1930's Prague, which is a fantastically chosen and designed location, which adds a lot to the game's dark atmosphere, and sports a number of cleverly designed locations and characters. Basically, almost everything is better done in the Prague side of the game than in the other one, leading to a great unbalance in the game. The modern setting characters are bland, an sometimes try too hard, and the puzzles are either uninspired or boring. The graphics are not great, but not bad either, but they're not afraid to show some gory visuals from time to time. The sound side is great, with very well chosen music and ok voice acting. Therefore, get this game if you want a really intriguing story and care less about puzzle quality.
When in Dubai, pay attention to the storydarkyhbk | Aug. 17, 2013 | Review of Spec Ops: The Line
Spec Ops The Line came as a real surprise to me. I started playing it because I was in the mood for a third person shooter, and the setting appealed to me, but I wasn't expecting much. This game really managed to surprise me. The setting in a devastated Dubai is quite unique, and it's a real graphical marvel to behold. The sand effects and physics were especially beautiful, but everything as a whole looks just amazing. The same can be said about the audio part- with great music, voice acting and a special attention to little details- such as, for instance, the cracking of glass windows under the weight of the sand. The gameplay isn't mindblowing, but what it doesn, it does well and without any quirks. It's a pretty generic cover shooter, but the levels are smartly designed and it gives you the possibility to use the environment to your advantage. However, the standout component here is the story, which slowly unfolds, and has a few twists and turns along the way. It's pretty damn difficult to do such a Josep Conrad-ish twist to an otherwise generically seeming plot, but the developers surely did it. So, do try this game out, be it if you like the setting or you want to be impressed by a really solid and inspired story.
Pure terrordarkyhbk | Aug. 10, 2013 | Review of Condemned: Criminal Origins
Condemned Criminal Origins might be one of the most terrifying experiences I have ever had in videogaming. Using the FEAR engine perfectly, as it comes from its producers, it manages to create a dark, tense and sick atmosphere perfectly, without sinking too much into the paranormal that FEAR bathed in, but rather focuses on the human aspect, on madness and mental disease, exploiting the human psyche in such a way that it's terrifying to even take a few steps forward. This is helped by some fantastic sound effects and smartly placed music. Sometimes, this is used to introduce the player into the atmosphere and location of a level, only for it to disappear later on, its absence making the game more tense an terrifying. The other big plus of the game is that it scares you intelligently - it doesn't abuse enemies or makes it really obvious where they're going to jump you. No, you'll be playing large sections of the game on the edge of your seat, the game tricking you that you're about to be attacked by someone out of the darkness, but you aren't. It really excels at building up tension and releasing it in key moments, dosing it enough and tricking you into feeling safe, and then scaring you out of your mind. There are a few jump scares, but they're cleverly dosed, don't insult your intelligence and are masterfully placed. The melee combat is good, and the enemy AI is really great, making full use of the environment and surprising you more than once during levels. The story is also great, exploring a deranged killer's crimes, and later linking it up with some really strange happenings. It feels both investigative and purely horrifying in the same time. This is a great, great game which you should really play if you're into the genre.
Fun, but lackingdarkyhbk | Aug. 10, 2013 | Review of Duke Nukem Forever
After the decade-long wait, Duke Nukem Forever was bound to disappoint. And so it did : it had to be a really out of the ordinary experience to justify all that time it spent in production, which it isn't. The game has all that vulgar and over the top substance which made its predecessors shine, but aside from a few moments of brilliance from the producers, they come out as shallow, uninspired and badly placed. Some jokes are good, but out of place, so are a number of one liners, and despite some pretty fun situations in which Duke finds himself in - such as when he's shrunk and driving an RC - are too short and too few to count too much. The graphics do not impress in any way. They're not bad, but they're not good either. The sound is the biggest plus, which mainly consists in Duke's original voice and some of the music on the soundtrack, which fits the overall game atmosphere nicely. However, while the gameplay isn't outright boring, offering enough variety - although more diverse enemies and better bossights would have been a real blessing- it doesn't quite reach the heights its predecessors did, and were expected from this game. Apart from a few situations and locations, which obviously benefited from the long production time, much of the game feels rushed, shallow and unfinished. DNF is by no means a bad game, and can offer you quite a bit of fun. Unfortunately, however, it's simply not enough.
Smart, solid, beautiful and inspireddarkyhbk | Aug. 10, 2013 | Review of Titan Quest
Only good things can be said about Titan Quest, despite its being an obvious Diablo II follower. However, I feel that not only does it perfectly use the given formula, but it also improves on it, making the final product even better than the aforementioned game. Its graphics are stunning, since it was a visual marvel when it was released back in 2006. The textures offer high details, the shading effects are top notch, and the physics engine is perfectly implemented. Moving around also moves vegetation, while killed enemies fall down and roll down slopes very believably. The very varied landscapes of Greece, Egypt and China are beautifully rendered, offering a number of really artistic and beautiful areas. Big plus here. The sound effects are solid, believable and diverse enough to make the game experience enjoyable, and the music is very fitting, varying smartly from location to location and ancient land to ancient land. Although some of the voice acting included does feel a bit shallow or uninspired, the narrator does a great job, and does not hinder the overall experience in any way. The game itself offers more than 25 hours of gameplay through diverse locations, an unprecedented number of different enemies and bosses which again vary from location to location. In Greece you'll fight harpies, and encounter mythological creatures such as Nessus or Polyphemus, in Egypt you'll fight mummies, and in China you'll go against jade figures. The loot is also numerous and makes the game addicting, as do the many different skill trees and class combinations available to you. All in all, this is a fantastic experience for both mythology enthusiasts and RPG fans alike, and, for me, it's the best hack'n'slash game ever made.
Artistic incursion into the world of Shakespearedarkyhbk | Aug. 10, 2013 | Review of The Chronicles of Shakespeare - Romeo & Juliet
The Chronicles of Shakespeare- Romeo and Juliet is a nice adventure game, which emanates a strong Shakespeare flavour, through dialogues, environments and overall direction of the story. If you're looking for a Shakespear-ish game, you've got it. The static locations of the game are beautifully drawn, with some nice shading effects to go with them, making some look absolutely gorgeous, with much attention given to every little detail. Best of all, it looks exactly as you'd imagine a faithful staging of Romeo and Juliet. The sound part is rather lacking, though, with just a few sound effects, while the voice acting is also not really top notch. The music, however, is fitting and pretty good overall. Even though the famous story is smartly set into Shakespeare's life, contouring him as an interesting character as well, the gameplay has't got too much to offer. It's basically getting the right object into the right place, with a few simple puzzles to go with it. However, this does not hinder the game's quality much, allowing it to be a nice and faithful tribute to both Shakespeare and his most famous play.
Best blend between sim and arcadedarkyhbk | Aug. 10, 2013 | Review of GRID
GRID is a fantastic blend between a racing sim and an arcade, with much to offer for both sets of fans. It offers a lengthy campaign, with a great number of racing modes, licensed circuits all over the world and a great number of cars, ranging from drift vehicles to high powered, high speed ones. All this selection is great and it plays fantastically well, with a fully customizable driving experience (assists, racing lane, etc) . It was also the Codemasters game which introduced the rewinds, making it possible to rewind a few seconds back in order to correct a mistake you've made, the number of these rewinds depending on your difficulty setting. Also, the possibility to establish a racing crew in campaign mode, recruit drivers and complete racing objectives is fun, addictive and rewarding. Everything from skill charts to win leaderboards is there, allowing you to make the best possible decision. In a nutshell, GRID is a fantastic, lengthy and very complete experience in the world of cars,offering enough variety for everyone, as well as a great control experience, making it both accessible for newcomers and challenging for hardcore racing fans.
Old school fundarkyhbk | Aug. 10, 2013 | Review of Deponia
Deponia makes use of an old school adventure formula in an attempt to deliver an entertaining story set in a very interesting universe. The good news is that it succeeds this. The story in this first part is interesting, unpredictable and showcases some interesting characters which are developed throughout the game. The main character is very well integrated into the game, making him both likable and unlikable. The puzzles you need to solve aren't very hard, but require a bit of time and thought nevertheless. The exploration of new locations and funny dialogues with other characters, as well as certain references to pop culture make this game so great. The game's graphics are beautifully drawn, with very artistic and inspired touches, and make the world really believable. The sound is great as well, with very well chosen voice actors and some nice and appropriate music. All in all, this is a very classy and entertaining adventure game, and considering its length , it is really good value for money.
Great setting, poor executiondarkyhbk | Aug. 10, 2013 | Review of Krater
Krater's setting is rather unique and interesting - a post-apocalyptic Sweden, but the poor game design and uninspired gameplay makes it considerably less appealing. While the graphics are nice enough, both detailed and artistic, building up a believable recreation of a post-apocalyptic Sweden, the interiors look too unfinished and repetitive,leading to boredom after a short while. The sound effects are not fantastic - sometimes they fail to launch, other times they come with a delay. The music is fine, but the voice acting, as little as there is any- is absolutely abysmal. The storyline is barely there, NPCs giving you uninteresting info about a number of things like factions and locations. The story never develops, and the unexploited potential the game reeks of is really unfortunate. The gameplay is also unfinished, repetitive, shallow and uninspired. You get to choose 3 character classes to guide through the game at one time, each with 2 distinct abilities and corresponding weapons. Yes, only 2 abilities. You can buff them, as well as their stats, but that doesn't offer variety. The biggest problem is that the characters are level capped. That means that in order to improve one past level 5, you need to either pay a ridiculous amount of money in order to unlock the next 5 levels, or buy cheap, new ones, which start at level 1. That's incredibly stupid and unnecessary, as it makes leveling up seem tedious and rather pointless, with little to be offered. Thus, Krater is a very repetitive and uninspired game, with huge potential which was not exploited at all. Such a pity...
Improvement over the first gamedarkyhbk | Aug. 10, 2013 | Review of Poker Night 2
Poker Night 2 is possibly the most entertaining virtual poker game to date. It improves over the original on almost every aspect. First of all, it offers not one, but two games : Texas Hold'Em and Omaha. Furthermore, it gives you more customization options, as you can buy personalized cards, boards and such, which you can use in the game. You can also buy drinks for your opponents, which makes them more predictable and easier to fool into making mistakes, as well as being more obvious when they bluff. Winning the special items is also a bit easier, as you first need to complete a set of three objectives, and win the following tournament. You no longer need to be the player who eliminates the character who offers the object in order to win it. However, despite the much better dealer, glaDOS, and the fantastic characters of Sam and Claptrap, Brock and Ash are not so great, and they lack the chemistry that the original cast had. However, this does not make it any less fun to play - it is the most entertaining poker game which you can play on your PC.
Less inspired than the first onedarkyhbk | Aug. 10, 2013 | Review of Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days
Kane and Lynch 2 tries to emulate the good blend between interesting storytelling and exciting action that the original game reached, but doesn't quite hit it. The graphics might seem a little weird at first, the game using a number of film grain effects and filters in order to make it seem like caught on security tapes. You'll get used to it, but I doubt it will ever make a positive impression on you - Manhunt did it so much better. The audio, though, is top notch. The voice acting is great, as was the case in the first game, and this helps make Lynch and Kane seem like believable characters. The music and sound effects are also good and work well as a whole. Big plus here. However, the rest doesn't quite impress. The storyline is pretty uninspired, leaving almost no room for character development, aside from a few situations that the duo finds itself into. The plot is predictable, and the other characters are shallow. It just tries too hard to shock and impress, and it rarely succeeds. Gameplay-wise, it's a generic cover shooter, without too many special things to offer. Few firefights feel really intense, the level design is rarely surprising, making everything feel like a downgrade from the original game. Itis by no means a bad game- just not good enough to really stand out, as its predecessor did.
Excellent noire shooterdarkyhbk | Aug. 4, 2013 | Review of Max Payne II: The Fall of Max Payne
Max Payne 2 continues the story of det. Max Payne's struggle against crime (and his own personality) in some of New York's less reputable districts. The game has you wander around through the levels, shooting bad guys, finding switches, keys and struggling to survive. A Rambo approach is not exactly recommended, as Max can die quite easily,so you have to think a bit before throwing yourself into combat, make good use of the game's defining bullet-time ability, while also being on the lookout for painkillers, which are absolutely essential for your survival. These shooting levels alternate with a number of dream-like sequences, though significantly less than in the first game, and exploration levels, which contribute a lot to the game's overall story and theme, as do Max's monologues an the comic-book manner in which they're presented. The incredible voice acting (especially from Max and Vlad, but others as well) and superb soundtrack all make this game an audio and visual marvel. The physics were amazing for the time, be it a glass shattering into bits or the trajectory of a body which was just shot. Everything feels very real and natural. All in all, Max Payne 2 is both a memorable action game and a gem of the noire genre in videogaming. For today's bargain price, you don't have an excuse to miss it.
Good platformer, but can get tediousdarkyhbk | Aug. 3, 2013 | Review of Save the Furries
Save the Furries is an enjoyable experience if you like platforming games and solving physics puzzles in a 2D environment without much eye candy. There are 60 levels spread on a number of different planets, where you'll control little green creatures and get from point A to point B. This, hovewer, might prove more difficult than you'd imagine. Despite starting out easy, the difficulty quickly ramps up and can get frustrating. This is less of a trial and error game than it is one where you have to solve puzzles in order to progress. It's not as easy as jumping over a spinning spiked wheel an reaching the higher platform. Your patience will be tested when having to solve certain physics puzzles with a great number of elements to consider. It's not easy at all. The graphics are a simple 2D with pleasantly coloured backgrounds, which change from planet to planned, offering some diversity not only visually, but in terms of gameplay mechanics as well, which is a nice touch. Maybe some levels might feel a little empty on the artistic side, but their general design has pleased me. Not the same can be said about the sound effects and music, which can get really repetitive after a while, and, due to frustration from inability to progress further, can get on your nerves at times. All in all, this is by no means a bad gam. It's a platformer that for one doesn't only test your reflexes, but also your judgement. For the small price you can buy it, I would say it's worth it.
Less of a bang than the firstdarkyhbk | Aug. 3, 2013 | Review of BioShock® 2
It is almost impossible to surpass the genius and utter perfection of the masterpiece that Bioshock was. So hard, that Bioshock 2 doesn't really do it. It is a fantastic experience, no doubt, but it's just not as much an impact as the original game was. The graphics-sound combination is as flawless as in the first game. All the elements work perfectly together, and it is a marvel to see and hear Bioshock 2. The confided environments look so artistic, while the voice acting is brilliant, and the music selection shows much good taste in the producers' decisions. However, the gameplay is more or less the same. Shooting and plasmid use work slightly better, and there are some new enemy types, but everything else is pretty much the same. Of course, this does not mean the game is boring, not at all- you'll be hooked in from start to finish, always marveling when exploring a new area, but it's not much of the improvement you'd expect. Storywise, the characters are less memorable, and the allusions are less impacting, despite a number of sections that surpass some of the original game's. However, this is understandable, as you cannot really offer an entirely different experience in the same setting. Despite being more of the same, Bioshock 2 is nevertheless a masterpiece, an enjoyable and memorable experience that every gamer should go through at least once.
Would you kindly play this?darkyhbk | Aug. 3, 2013 | Review of BioShock
Bioshock was one of those games that came out of nowhere and blew the entire FPS market up. Considered to be System Shock 2's spiritual successor, Bioshock certainly lived up to the legendary game's reputation and offered an unforgettable experience. Taking place in an underwater city in the earl 1960s, it offers the ideas (an results) of how a purely capitalistic society in search for self-affirmation would end up. It is really interesting and thought provoking, and the implementation is spot-on. Nothing is too obvious, everything is alluded with subtlety and much, much care. The game itself is more or less straightforward. In a confined space, you'll kill enemies with your weapons and special abilities, called plasmids, which range from fireballs to freezing enemies and objects, solve puzzles and have some memorable encounters with unforgettable characters. If you look at it from this point of view, Bioshock might not have much novelty value in terms of gameplay, but what marvels players is the setting and the atmosphere, as well as the storyline developed through recordings and messages scattered around the levels, but also through the state that things are in. Everything has a fantastic suggestion power, and everything is exploited to the maximum, making you imagine scenarios in every room you visit. In a nutshell, Bioshock is a rare gem, a superb reference to social inequalities, extremism and a dream of a perfect society.
Best and biggest RTS pack availabledarkyhbk | Aug. 3, 2013 | Review of Dawn of War Complete Pack
This pack offers some of the best RTS games of all time in one pack, guaranteeing hundreds of hours of gameplay and enjoyable experiences. Dawn of War, with all the expansions, is my personal favourite sci-fi RTS game of all time. You get an incredible 8 different races to play with, each with their own particular strenghts, weaknesses and gameplay models. The original game and Winter Assault offer story-driven campaigns, while Dark Crusade and Soulstorm consist of TBS-style conquarable maps, and a more RPG feel to certain elements. Not to mention the huge number of multiplayer maps - guaranteed fun. Dawn of War II and its expansions offer a more tactical take on the universe, with no base building or micromanagement, and a larger emphasis on unit abilities, progress and equipment. Despite the less varied, fewer available units than in the original game, this makes up for memorable tactical battles, in which whoever makes best use of his abilities wins. Both games are almost flawless gems of the RTS genre, and no sci-fi fan should miss them.
Entertaining for a whiledarkyhbk | Aug. 3, 2013 | Review of Bounders and Cads
Bounders and Cads is a colorful little game where your objective is to raise the largest sum of money by buying and developing businesses, but also through less conventional and honest ways. You'll get a boardgame feel right from the start, as you play a coloured pawn. The gameplay in itself is a rather unconventional Monopoly. You get to buy a number of businesses, upgrade them through larger levels of cost and production and attach different bonuses, while also keeping an eye out for the opposition's developments. If they're doing better than you are, you can sabotage their production or transportation, but you can expect a retaliation. While the AI works well enough, this is much more fun when played in the company of your friends. The graphics are very colourful and look well enough. The characters are cartoonish and make fun of corrupt officials or sneaky executives, and occasionally provide a good natured laugh, thanks to the solid voice acting. The music is also very well chosen, consisting of a number of retro/jazzy tracks, which suit the game's atmosphere really well. In conclusion, Bounders and Cads is a well designed, fun game, but in order to get the most out of it, you'll need to play against human opposition.
Pirate Sandbox done rightdarkyhbk | Aug. 3, 2013 | Review of Sid Meier's Pirates! Capsule
Sid Meier's Pirates ! is the perfect pirate sandbox game. It gives you the command of a ship and the ability to do whatever your childhood pirate dreams consisted of. You'll explore the Caribbean Sea, plundering ships, cities, trading resources, hunting famous pirates and courting daughters of rich gouvernors. The ship controls are very intuitive and easy to learn, but hard to master. When in combat, you'll have to take into account matters such as ship size, mobility, number of cannons and wind direction. Quite a few things. Then, you can use special projectiles in order to rip apart the mast and slow the ship down, or you can use fire projectiles, which hurt the crew significantly. There's a loyalty system, depending on your actions for or against the factions (English, French, Spanish, Dutch), so you'll get benefits if you decide to play friendly with some and only plunder others. While not on sea, you'll be able to trade resources in cities, explore islands for treasure, or make use of a fun dancing minigame in order to court gouvernors' daughters, offer them presents and ultimately marry the girl of your choice. On the whole, this is a very enjoyable and fun take on pirating life, which will hook you in for hours and hours.
Others did it betterdarkyhbk | July 25, 2013 | Review of CivCity: Rome CAP
With an standard set by Caesar III, CivCity Rome tried to revive the city building genre based on Ancient Rome. The result is a good city builder , with solid foundations which unfortunately lack a finishing touch to be a real gem. The gameplay is similar to the Sierra series, and it works quite well. There are a few minor glitches, some production and distribution chains/methods could have been thought better and worked on a little more, but on the whole, you can't fault the gameplay too much. It's just that it tries to recreate the Caesar formula so much, that it ends up feeling like a cheap clone. Graphically, the game doesn't shine at all, and the colours chosen seem rather uninspired. The sound effect are too few in number, but the music is ok. The best aspect of the game might as well be the Civclopedia, which gives you info about almost everything of interest in Ancient Rome - from roads and aqueducts to social classes and triumvirates. Great read.
Silly, but enjoyabledarkyhbk | July 24, 2013 | Review of Driver San Francisco
Driver San Francisco is a somewhat strange, yet unique driving experience. The series reinvented itself after the Driv3r failure and the great success of Parallel Lines by following the initial direction of an all-driving game, meaning that you cannot get out of your car(s). The game is set in a licensed San Francisco and offers real cars to choose from. The storyline, however, is ambiguous to say the least, with your character in a coma dreaming about the events in the game. And this gives you ability to get yourself out of your body, placing you in a view of the city, where you can shift into another driver's mind and control each and every car you see just like that. This gives you awesome capabilities. For instance, when chasing a car, you don't have to go through all the usual fuss. You can just shift into a truck coming from the opposite direction at high speed, and blast right into it. The game revolves around stuff like this, and while the story is pretty dumb, all the crazy scenarios that you'll take part in are funny and enjoyable. The graphics are good enough, San Francisco is adequately designed, and the sound effects are okay as well. However, the music selection lacks required depth, as some diverse radio stations could have been a real plus, since you spend all your time driving. Also, the voice acting ranges from great to annoying, so take what you will. To conclude, this is definitely a fun game which will provide a somewhat unique experience, despite all its problems and many areas of improvement.
Great revival of the classic seriesdarkyhbk | July 23, 2013 | Review of Tomb Raider: Legend
Tomb Raider was resurrected by Crystal Designs and saved from certain death, since the previous game hadn't met expectations at all. What it does, Legend does really well, and it' enjoyable both as a platformer and as an action game. Lara will have to go through diverse locations in order to accomplish her goals, ranging from jungles to deserts, from English catacombs to a skyscraper in Japan. There's enough location diversity to keep you satisfied. The platforming is rock solid, and there are some really challenging puzzles as well. The shooting is not so solid or atmospheric, but it's a nice distraction. You'll also get to drive a motorcycle and other fun stuff. There are also a couple bossfights, but the less said about them the better. With nice graphics with some incredible reflection effects for the time, good voice acting and suitable music, and a gameplay to carry it all, Tomb Raider Legend was a hit, and a promise of more and better to come.
A downgrade from Dirt 2darkyhbk | July 23, 2013 | Review of DiRT 3
Despite being a solid offroad racer in itself, Dirt 3 is inferior in almost all aspects to Dirt 2, which is not the direction this series should go. Graphically speaking, the cars do look a bit more polished, and so does the damage engine, and you do get a bit more diversity in weather conditions, such as rain or heavy show, but it doesn't feel much an improvement, actually. The colour palette is less well chosen and it just doesn't stand out as the second game did. The sound is alright when it comes to technical aspects, but the music selection is much, much poorer than Dirt 2's , and you get almost no lines from all the other drivers, making the whole game seem impersonal, distant and cutting down the atmosphere. The gameplay goes in the same way, but there is a lot less diversity in tracks - and those which are there, are not very well designed. There is some variety in racing modes, though, gymkhana offering you the chance to do some crazy stuff around an arena in an attempt to get as many points as you can - these are fun and add a bit of diversity, which works in the game's favour. However, the AI is a lot poorer than in its predecessor, and the trailer is gone, which is a big loss and makes the game feel stripped and without personality. Despite all these problems, Dirt 3 is a great offroad experience, probably better than most others out there. Its biggest issue is that its predecessor was such a gem that it has to live in its shadow.
A city builder which doesn't do muchdarkyhbk | July 23, 2013 | Review of The Timebuilders: Pyramid Rising
Timebuilders Pyramid Rising is a city builder which doesn't really do something interesting enough to stand out. Having played the masterpiece Pharaoh, it's really difficult to be impressed by another city builder set in Ancient Egypt. You have a large number of missions, each with a set of objectives. Some are really short and they'll have you mine a number of resources- like gold or sandstone - others will require more labour , such as building a temple or a palace, or reaching a specified number of inhabitants. These all work pretty fine, but they're not at all innovative and they get boring after a while. The graphics are nicely drawn in 2D, with an appropriate colour palette giving you the feel of Ancient Egypt, and the music suiting everything else pretty well. No complaints here. If only the game itself was more diverse and interesting, it would have been a real gem.
Best offroad racerdarkyhbk | July 23, 2013 | Review of DiRT 2
Dirt 2 is quite simply the best offroad racer ever. It has personality, charm, great cars and diverse tracks, and is loads of fun to play. First of all, the graphics are phenomenal. Everything looks top notch, with high resolution textures, shading and effects. The sound is also very realistic, the music is simply superb, and the transition between the racing and the menus with music is great. The voice acting is also quite good, and it helps you bond with the other racers and perceive them as persons, despite you not seeing them. Travis Pastrana might give you a friendly greet at the start of a race, while another will apologize if he or she bumps into your car. It's really good natured and fun. The gameplay is what we're used to from Codemasters. It's a mix between simulation and arcade which works exactly as it should be. Cars react differently, and you also need to pay attention to the surface you're racing on : sand will make you spin out more easily, while puddles can slow you down. The AI is good, and when you've crashed out or missed a turn, you can rewind time and correct your mistake - the number of rewinds depending on your difficulty level. Now, the tracks are diverse, ranging from USA deserts to Chinese Mountains, Morocco, Croatia, London and Malaysia. There's enough variety to keep you going. Also, the trailer serves as a menu and is placed in each of the locations you're visiting, with accompanying backgrounds. This is a great thing, as it adds to the friendly atmosphere the game has. With a few pleasant surprises here and there, Dirt 2 starts well and never tails off for a minute. This is offroad racing fans' heaven, buy it, it's worth every cent !
Poker with some brilliant charactersdarkyhbk | July 23, 2013 | Review of Poker Night at the Inventory
Poker Night at the Inventory is a poker game, as simple as that. You play Texas Hold 'Em against Max from Sam and Max, Strong Bad, TF2's Heavy and Tycho from Penny Arcade. These characters all interact with each other during play, have funny conversations and one liners. It's really entertaining and they all showcase their personalities from their respective games. Great mix. Poker is poker, not much to say about it. The rules are clearly explained for first timers, who will have a good chance to learn how to play without feeling lost at any time. This is a great game for amateurs and professionals alike, and is bound to have you hooked on for hours, gunning for each character's special items or just the Steam achievements.
Not a game, but an experience.darkyhbk | July 22, 2013 | Review of Dear Esther
Dear Esther is hardly a game. All you do is walk around from one place to another, doing nothing but walking. You can't even run. Just walk and admire the beauty of the landscape while listening to the narrator unveil the storyline. Dear Ester's storyline is very ambiguous. You can interpret it however you like. In fact, the monologue's lines often change from playthrough to playthrough. Since the game only takes about one hour to complete, you can easily go on multiple runthroughs to see different perspectives. I won't spoil it, but it alludes to life beyond death, faith, religion, and basically human nature. It's mature, beautiful and brilliantly put into context. It's a trip into your own subconscious , and it is extraordinary. Buy this game if you're tired of games not offering you anything interesting. This is an experience you don't want to miss.
Very entertaining puzzle gamedarkyhbk | July 21, 2013 | Review of Too Many Me
Too Many Me is exactly what you think it is. Great fun. Just as the title suggests, you control a lot of clones of the same character. Now, this is always fun to platform around a classy-looking, 2D environment designed with all those platforming obstacles you know : gaps, traps, unstable tiles. You can make use of your clones in order to proceed further, and here and there you will, willingly or unwillingly, kill them all with a missed jump or land with some straight into a spinning saw. Fun ! The level design is great and the backdrops are quite diverse, you you won't really get bored. The graphic style is minimal, but suits the game's purpose perfectly, as does the soundtrack. In conclusion, if you want to enjoy a game that does not take itself all too seriously, this is a great way to do just that !
Good if you like puzzlesdarkyhbk | July 20, 2013 | Review of Adam's Venture: The Search for the Lost Garden
The first episode of Adam's Venture is an enjoyable experience if you like puzzle games and also don't mind an occasional bug or two. The story is really weak, juggling with stuff that ranges from Templars to The Garden of Eden. The other two characters in the game are shallow, you know nothing about them , you will have a conversation with each at the very beginning, after which you won't see them until the end. For an adventure, that is not ideal. Adam himself is practically just a bunch of pixels with an incredibly poor voice acting. The game itself is mediocre-looking, despite using Unreal 3, and you'll stumble into a number of texture bugs for sure. The platforming is simple and unimaginative, but some of the puzzles are OK. Ironically, though, the first one the game throws at you happens to be both the best and the hardest one. The rest are too easy and not varied enough to stand out. They're just ok. So, if you're just mad about solving puzzles, or you'd fancy a bit of Indiana Jones-ish adventure, this game might be a good way to spend 2 hours.
Great action gamedarkyhbk | July 18, 2013 | Review of Kane & Lynch: Dead Men
Kane and Lynch Dead Men pays homage to both heist movies, guerilla warfare and basically everything which has stuff blowing up. You'll shoot your way through tough situations in diverse surroundings, ranging from urban streets and nightclubs to the jungle. You'll have plenty of weapons to choose from, and the game has a solid shooting and cover system that works well most times. The graphics are really good and detailed, with a lot of eye candy, and the sound is great as well. The music always fits what happens on the screen and the voice acting, especially for Kane and Lynch, is fantastic. The storyline is very mature and captures your interest right from the start. It is about indentity and vengeance, and has two memorable characters whom you'll really get to know and care about as you play. This is a very solid action game with a story that will have you hooked up until the end.
Great, but very shortdarkyhbk | July 17, 2013 | Review of The Walking Dead: 400 Days
The Walking Dead 400 Days is even shorter than Episode 5. Which was pretty short to begin with. It takes just over an hour, since you won't really be able to get stuck or killed repeatedly. It follows the stories of 5 characters, and how they came together 400 days into the zombie apocalypse. Each story takes up to 20 minutes, maybe less, and takes place in pretty limited environments. So limited, that, for instance, you can finish Wyatt's story without even leaving the car you're in. However, all episodes have some very tough, morally gray choices, and all characters intersect themselves somehow throughout their definitive moments. The game tests out some new gameplay control mechanics, such as sneaking or getting objects in a Penumbra-ish manner. Also, it probably makes the link between Clem, Omid and Christa's stories and the new characters, who might get main roles in Season 2. Despite its length and a situation at the very end which seems forced, and too easy to influence one way or another, leaning almost towards absurd, 400 Days is a great TWD experience and keeps the interest up for Season 2.
Best football sim to datedarkyhbk | July 16, 2013 | Review of FIFA 13
FIFA 13 improves FIFA 12's formula even further and delivers the best football game to date. There are some added features in the manager mode, such as the ability to coach a national side alongside your club, participating in qualifiers for the major tournaments and fighting for the EURO, World Cup and Confederation Cup titles. The ability to select your team from all the players of a certain nation is a nice touch. Also, the youth academy system is further improved. Another nice touch are the tutorials which you can choose to practise when the game is loading. If you complete a stage of, say, crossing, you'll move to another, more complicated one, improving your skill quickly and easily. Despite some minor AI problems and inconsistencies in stadium names, FIFA 13 delivers the best footballing experience you can get.
Fantastic, fun experiencedarkyhbk | July 16, 2013 | Review of Renegade Ops
Renegade Ops is a very fast paced, explosive vehicle shooter which will have you blow up stuff in a number of detailed, beautifully designed sceneries. You'll have a variety of characters to choose from, each with their own special abilities and skill trees. You earn XP by killing enemy vehicles and completing objectives, and you use the upgrade points to purchase new abilities, be it active or passive, to help you in the fight. You'll pick up power ups to boost your weapons, pick up special weapons and use them when the situation gets out of hand. It's a lot of fun, and it offers enough variety and replayability that you'll love it.
Surprisingdarkyhbk | July 15, 2013 | Review of Anno 2070
When it was announced that Anno would turn from the historic city building background it always provided to some future setting, I was very disappointed. However, I gave the game a chance and came out quite pleased. The rules are basically the same, and while some mechanics might feel odd throughout the whole game, it does hit some highs, mainly with the underwater section of the game, which is an innovation in itself. The graphics look OK, not very eye catching, but detailed, the interface is really clean and the colour palette is relaxing, with blue the predominant colour. However, the music does not stand out in any way. The storyline starts interestingly enough, but trails off eventually. Anno fans might not be entirely pleased with the new direction, but other players might be able to enjoy this finely crafted city builder more.
Best game in the seriesdarkyhbk | July 15, 2013 | Review of Anno 1404: Gold
The Anno series have never really failed, but they achieved their best with Anno 1404, a magnificent historical city builder which stays true to their formula. It is bigger, better and even more addictive than the previous games, which is a marvel in itself. The gameplay hasn't suffered from simplification, it has the same complexity which is both intuitive and difficult to master. The story isn't much, but it's a lot better than having a bunch of unrelated scenarios, as Anno 1701 did. The graphics are breathtaking, while the music is also superbly chosen and very fitting.
Build the Eiffel Tower !darkyhbk | July 15, 2013 | Review of Monument Builders - Eiffel Tower
Monument Builders Eiffel Tower is a decent city builder strategy game in which your main objective is to gather materials in order to build the famous Eiffel Tower. The atmosphere throughout the game is truly Parisian, from the architecture to the music played throughout the game. The mechanics should be familiar if you ever played a city builder before. You'll have a large number of scenarios, which become more and more complex, and your objective for each one is usually to supply a number of resources for the construction of the monument. To do that you need to harvest basic resources, such as stone, gold and wood, build and upgrade certain buildings in order to work the basic resources into more complex final products, for instance metal beams or scaffolds. Workers need to build every little piece of something, even the construction of a road is done piece by piece and takes time, this certainly adding to the game's realism. You'll have fun providing materials and when you're done, you'll feel that you have really helped build the famous Parisian monument, which is, of course, brilliant.
Short, simple and fundarkyhbk | July 15, 2013 | Review of Wallace and Gromits: Grand Adventures
The Wallace and Gromit season is built up just like Telltalles' other episodic games. Each episode requires about 3 hours of game time to complete, and feature a few, nicely designed areas, nicely built characters with very funny lines and references and simple, yet fun to solve puzzles. Here you'll be controlling Gromit, the dog, who, despite not speaking, is far more intelligent than Wallace and always gets to save the situation. The other supporting characters will be around for the whole season, allowing you to bond with them and discover their personalities. The games are a good bit of fun, and even though it might be Telltalle's weakest series, it still has a very good feel to it.
Great but frustrating platformerdarkyhbk | July 15, 2013 | Review of Super Meat Boy
Super Meat Boy is one of the most entertaining, yet frustrating and unforgiving experiences to come out in years. It involves getting a meat chunk from point A to point B in a number of levels, but that's far easier said than done. In does start off easily enough, just to get you going, but it eventually gets so hard that you'll end up dying hundreds of times per level until you figure out how to beat it. It takes perfect timing and accuracy to jump over traps, while avoiding others and still make it without falling into endless pits and spike traps. Sections where you get chased by bosses and have to platform your way through are, of course, timed, which makes them even more frustrating. If you do actually finish this game, you can consider it a remarkable achievement, since it takes a lot of skill, patience and effort.
Lara is reborndarkyhbk | July 15, 2013 | Review of Tomb Raider
Tomb Raider takes a whole different approach on the Lara we knew since the early '90s. The large breasted, barely clothed Lara does not make an appearance in this game. We get, however, an even better Lara: young, inexperienced Lara. It is a fantastic change of direction and emphasis that I personally loved. They changed everything about Lara, from her appearance to her voice acting. The game itself is quite different from previous platformers, combined with a little bit of action. This is a survival action-adventure, with a larger emphasis on combat, and on the main characters' development. It does involve platforming and some puzzle solving, but far less than Anniversary, for instance. You get a number of skill trees for Lara, whose abilities you can enhance, you can purchase a number of upgrades for weapons, among which the most entertaining is, by far, the bow. The storytelling is solid, with a lot of documents and journals supporting the main story. And while the other characters don't really shine in any way, Lara herself is extraordinary to say the least. In conclusion, Tomb Raider is a fantastic origin story, and a great survival adventure game in itself. With more complex platforming and a couple of difficult puzzles, it would have been perfect.
One of the most intense experiences in videogamingdarkyhbk | July 15, 2013 | Review of The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead is all about storytelling. It features complex characters placed in impossible situations, it's all about tough, quick decisions and it is, ultimately, a study of human nature and behaviour. The gameplay is very simple and straightforward, using an intuitive interface to have you explore environments and collect items, and solve a few, very easy puzzles. These alternate with action sequences with quick time events, targeting a place on the screen quickly, or some shooting. All this is very fast paced and created an atmosphere like few games ever do, but it would still be nothing without the wonderfully written, superbly acted characters. The writing is spot on, and the fact that it has almost no link to the TV Series is a very good thing, allowing development in another direction. The music is perfectly dosed and chosen, and the graphics are cartoonish, but fit the game really, really well. In a nutshell, TWD is a fantastic experience for any gamers, and of course a delight for TWD universe fans.
Nice adventure with a good storydarkyhbk | July 11, 2013 | Review of Louisiana
Louisiana is an entertaining 3rd person adventure game, which puts less emphasis on solving puzzles and more on dialogue and collecting clues.
The year is 1902, and Katie is sent to investigate a brutal series of murders occurring somewhere around New Orleans. When she gets there, she realises that the situation is worse than originally anticipated. People are very disturbed by the events; everybody's on the edge, frightened and suspicious. The story unfolds itself really well and the dialogues are very well written. The characters that Katie meets are believable enough, and almost all have something interesting to say, which adds more substance to the mysterious story.
The gameplay is well designed. You control Kate directly with your keyboard and mouse, and while this is not the classic direction of adventure games, fans should still like it, as it adds to the atmosphere. The environments are well designed, and even though animations are a bit stiff, it's visuals are still likable. The biggest problem, though, is the voice acting. It's clear that the actors were not professionals, and while some do try hard, they still sound unconvincing.
In conclusion, if you're looking for a mysterious story set in a rather unexploited time and location, this game is certainly for you !
Charming adventuredarkyhbk | July 11, 2013 | Review of Hidden Path of Faery - PC
Hidden Path of Faery is a classic-style point and click adventure game in which you get to solve numerous puzzles and carry out investigations, in a beautiful, magical scenery.
First of all, the visuals are superbly designed, all decors looking artistic and the color palette being remarkably well chosen. The presentation is furthered by the very beautiful music which accompanies you throughout your adventure. The game is charming, and its atmosphere sucks you into a magic world.
The story is somewhat passable, though. You arrive in another realm and help the inhabitants recover a very precious book, which was stolen by an unknown individual. Throughout the game, you solve puzzles and collect clues and objects in order to find out who the thief is. While the puzzles and challenges are not numerous and not really that difficult, they still require a bit of attention and skill to complete, and they're quite fun. I would recommend this game as a casual, relaxing adventure with great visuals and soundtrack.
A fun puzzle game.darkyhbk | July 11, 2013 | Review of Gravi cap
Gravi is a 2D puzzle game in which you control a ball surrounded by a gravitational field, guiding it through corridors, up platforms and past traps. It is good fun if you're into this sort of game.
Gravi starts off pretty easy, but the challenge gradually builds up and you'll end up having quite a few problems when progressing further into the game. The traps become more intricate and numerous, moving platforms require perfect timing and reflexes and a step wrong spells death. Oh yes, I died hundreds of times in this game (in fact, this information is shown on your HUD, just to make you aware).
While it does get pretty much trial and error later on, it does not get the fun out of the game. The ability to shoot the ball where you point, then use gravity to move it forward is fun, and the levels are well designed, giving you a both entertaining and challenging time.
A fun approach to Bejeweleddarkyhbk | July 6, 2013 | Review of Evolver
Evolver is similar in almost all aspects of game mechanics to the famous Bejeweled. Here, you get a grid of microorganisms in all three environments - sea, land, and air, with the objective to make them evolve. At the start of each stage, you start with a small number of different creatures, and you have to match three or more in order to give birth to a new one. Therefore, in each level you start with the basic ones, and as you start matching, others will start being added to the mix. You have to match all previously existing ones in order to gain access to the new organism at the end of the level. This is an addictive game if you like puzzles like these, offering you more diversity than the classic Bejeweled and easier mechanics, the game making sure that you don't get stuck with no moves left on the grid. In conclusion, if the idea of this game appeals to you I would definitely recommend it to anybody looking for a player-friendly, fun casual game.
Passable, but atmospheric vampire adventuredarkyhbk | July 6, 2013 | Review of Dracula Ressurection
Dracula Ressurection is a mediocre adventure puzzle game based on Bram Stoker's famous novel. Its main strength is , undoubtedly, its sound effects and soundtrack. The combination between the two and the well drawn, dark visuals often leads to very scary moments, not thanks to the situation at hand, but to how the static, scarcely illuminated corridors look and sound. Unfortunately, though, the voice acting is really, really weak. The actors sound in no way convincing, nor do they recreate the desired Transylvanian atmosphere at the slightest. It's a shame, really, because otherwise the audio-video combination would have been almost flawless. As far as gameplay is concerned, it's pretty much a classic point and click adventure game, in which you'll spend most of your time exploring and collection objects. Moving involves clicking, and the camera moves to another 360° angle, something like street view in Google Earth. This is classy, but it might break the atmosphere a bit for those unaccustomed to it. The puzzles you have to solve are not too challenging, and while the story is indeed mysterious and feels like Bram Stoker stuff, doesn't really excel in any way. The result is a good looking adventure game with a superb soundtrack, but not much else to go along with it, which is a shame really.
Dungeon Siege goes casualdarkyhbk | July 6, 2013 | Review of Dungeon Siege III
Personally, I loved the first Dungeon Siege and its expansion - the setting, the mechanics, the graphics, the level design - everything. It's one of my favourite hack and slash games. The second was good, but not as good. Now, the third one is quite different from the original formula. You get a single companion alongside you, while the complexity of previous games is gone. You get a rather small number of abilities, and while the upgrade tree is done rather well, the loot is not as vast either. However, this is still a good game, with some rather generic characters but nevertheless, an interesting storyline. The visuals are superb, the music is really suitable and the sound effects all help with the immersion. It is also quite long, taking over 20 hours to complete. Dungeon Siege III might not be the game it was a while ago, but it's still a solid experience.
An entertaining game which shows you how American elections workdarkyhbk | July 6, 2013 | Review of The Political Machine 2012
The Political Machine 2012 is more or less the same game Stardock released 4 years ago. You choose a candidate and you spend the following weeks going from state to state, trying to get voters on your side. The mechanics are easy to understand, but it takes a while to master them. Everything you do cost money, whether you build a Campaign HQ, release a TV Ad in order to attack your opponent, or just simply fly from Texas to Illinois. You need to plan your budget carefully, because money is pretty scarce. Some gets added after each turn, but if you're too low, you won't be able to do much. You need to learn when a more expensive campaign is needed, and to spend the money wisely, only when it makes a difference. Otherwise, you can give simple, free speeches in order to attract undecided voters, or to convince people from the opposite party that their candidate is not good enough. You can tackle a number of present day issues, from Government spending to Obamacare and Environmental issues. You can also attend TV interviews, where you must chose your answers carefully, hire different staff members and send them all over the map to do their work, and also get endorsements from a number of organisations, which may benefit your campaign one way or another. The graphics are cartoonish and they blend well with the soundtrack, even if the latter does get a bit repetitive. This is certainly a solid game that is good fun and also provides you with an insight of USA's current issues. However, it is too much the same game it was 4 years ago for me to appreciate it just as much.
Repetitive, buggy, but still fun .darkyhbk | July 6, 2013 | Review of Wasteland Angel
Wasteland Angel is a fun little game if you can get over the repetitiveness and some bugs that you're sure to encounter. Controlling a buggy from top down perspective in a post-apocalyptic world, you're tasked with defending certain outposts from waves of enemies. Their vehicles come either to fight you, or to kidnap civilians from the outposts. When destroying enemy vehicles, you get certain powerups or special weapons to use to your advantage : spikes, flamethrowers, mines, or even a small nuke. After two levels in which you defend an outpost, you get a bossfight, where you're told which special weapons to use in order to make him vulnerable. Very straightforward. Then you get a bonus level, in which you either race through checkpoints, survive against endless spawning enemies or destroy vehicles in order to add seconds to a timer. Same goes for all areas. If you don't mind some enemies getting stuck before entering the map, some turning invisible just staying there for a couple of waves, and some texture trouble, you can definitely have a bit of fun with Wasteland Angel if the game's idea appeals to you. It takes no more than 3 hours to complete it 100%, so if you can get it for a price cut, consider doing it.
A solid shooter with a retro cyberpunk feeldarkyhbk | July 6, 2013 | Review of Hard Reset
Hard Reset is a very simple first person shooter in itself, but can be loads of fun if you're in the mood for shooting robots to pieces. A lot of robots. First of all, it has a not very unique, but still well designed dark cyberpunk world. The color palette is remarkably well chosen, and the delicious special effects really add to the game's immersion. The music is pretty well chosen, and while it certainly does not stand out, it blends well with the rest of the game's elements. The shooting part is solid, and very atmospheric. Maybe not so much as Painkiller, but still, it's unbelievably satisfying to shoot robots to bits. The weapons are good fun, even though there are not many to choose from, but the upgrade system adds further diversification. Enemies come in waves and waves, and the few different models would start to bore you if the game wasn't pretty short. Thankfully, a boss fight comes in when you're starting to get tired of the endless waves of the same robots, and they're pretty memorable as well. In a nutshell, Hard Reset is an entertaining , classic style FPS with great visuals for an indie game, and is perfect for a rainy weekend.
Good satire of today's questionable standards in gamingdarkyhbk | July 6, 2013 | Review of DLC Quest
DLC Quest is a rather short game, consisting of two campaigns that you can finish in about an hour each, but you can also speedrun in less than 20 minutes. But this, considering its very low price, is good value. The game itself is a simple platformer, where you basically need to collect gold coins in order to buy DLC, consisting in stuff ranging from the ability to go left to graphics enchantments, weapons and new abilities. Along the way you meet some very intentionally generic NPCs with whom you can interact. Many dialogues make fun of certain bad habits in game development and distribution, and the references are quite subtle. One character believes that the "All your base are belong to us" reference wil not be understood by more than half of the people playing, but there is enough stuff for younger gamers as well. One NPC states that "the cake is a lie", while some time later he dies because an arrow to the knee. The game doesn't have much replay value, unless you missed some awardments on your first run, but it's certainly very entertaining to play and have a relaxing couple of hours.