Reviews by hamster


Nothing like what it appears to be

hamster | June 8, 2013 | Review of Chivalry: Medieval Warfare

This game is not a visceral hack and slash heavily dependent on twitch reflexes - rather it requires patience, timing and everything is played out at an extremely measured pace. So 99% of the time, the game is about your opponent's mistake (typically at judging distance), rather than an attack being too fast to react to. The game is also bound by extremely quirky rules, such as limited horizontal turn speed in the middle of attacks, full damage during the swing regardless of sword position (this has resulted in people attempting to position their opponents at the beginning of the swing, immediately after the point of the pullback/wind-up to speed up damage time), feints as well as manipulating the swing speed by turning either in the direction of the swing (therefore "speeding up" the attack) or opposite the direction of the swing (therefore "slowing down" the attack). Unfortunately all of these things put together results in a game more about deception and timing rather than hand eye coordination and reflexes, which is what the trailer led me to believe. This annoyed me, and it may annoy you as well. For those who don't, the game is probably rather enjoyable and is the only FPS melee swinging multiplayer game out there other than War of the Roses. Be warned though, the multiplayer community is small and dwindling and there are only a few asian servers available online.


better than GTA but still ends up a little dull after some time

hamster | June 8, 2013 | Review of Saints Row: The Third

Unlike the GTA games which are basically a blend of banal and cookie-cutter mini-games largely devoid of any meaningful context and/or design (including the main missions), Saint's Row attempts to add flavor the sandbox genre by fluffing up the main missions, building a whacky and bombastic world as well as ensuring decent shooting weapons/mechanics are available at the player's fingertips. There are cookie cutter side missions (such as carjacking missions) but at least the developers bothered sprinkling some minor snippets of premise and narrative. Interestingly, some of the main missions eventually become recurring side missions, probably demonstrating the developer's confidence or possibly laziness. Probably something in between.

After some time, the game does start to drag. Perhaps i'm not going through the main missions quickly enough and focusing too much on the other stuff. I don't know - in my opinion, putting boring activities in a game is never excusable. Sometimes less is more.


Very hard to learn; very poor performance

hamster | June 8, 2013 | Review of Natural Selection II

NS2 is an adversarial multiple-only game pitting the marines against the aliens. This game is refreshingly different from other shooters in that the game also contains a heavy dose of RTS elements, such as the presence of a commander, base building and resource acquisition. For the marines, this means that resources generated from claimed resource nodes can be used to purchase and/or research equipment. Similarly for the aliens, resources can be used to "evolve" the default lifeform into a more powerful species.

Be warned: this game is tough, unforgiving and difficult to learn. The typical alien lifeform can only engage in melee, so twitch-shooting skills useful in other FPS is otherwise useless when playing the aliens. Furthermore alien evolutions are NOT permanent, so you will respawn as the default lifeform (a weak and small dog like alien) after death. But the most difficult aspect of the game - which is an aspect that ties into every other area of NS2 - is learning the map. The maps in NS2 are extremely large and convoluted. The aliens species are practically unplayable until you learn the map. Without map knowledge, you will not know how to get to a destination; you will not remember how to get to a destination; you will escape into the maws of the enemy; and particularly, since aliens rely on more or less hit-and-run warfare, without sufficient map knowledge you will find yourself running into walls rather than slipping into vents, thereby limiting your offensive potential by basically 100%. Yes, aliens in NS2 are so fragile that even advanced lifeforms can not take sustained fire for any period of time. Think of the complexity of a single NS2 map as about say, 10 dedust maps. The dedust maps must not only be joined on the horizontal plane but also overlap by varying degrees - the vertical nature of maps in NS2 makes it extremely difficult to grasp your position vs. the destination position even with the presence of the mini-map. Perhaps the game should have been shipped with cut-down maps to assist newer players (and also allow first time players to quickly have an enjoyable experience).

Another aspect i would like to touch on is the technical one. Performance in NS2 is notoriously poor even for advanced gaming machines.

But as a whole, the game has an incredible premise and when everything is clicking the game is really quite fun. The graphics are incredible and the detail in each map is astounding - the depiction is so extensive that the maps actually feel like the area that they are supposed to represent, rather than just an excuse-of-an-arena for battles to play out.

Perhaps the most important thing to take away is that NS2 will not be all too enjoyable as the alien species without a significant time commitment. If you are willing to invest the time (or get lucky, with combat being focused on a few easily accessible/iconic areas of the map) the game is definitely worth the money.


Terrible port but fun

hamster | June 8, 2013 | Review of Batman: Arkham Asylum Game of the Year

Here is a game that effortlessly blends stealth, platforming, puzzle-solving and punch-em-up-brawling into a pleasant mix. Each element flows seamlessly into the other and the grand environs land the game a sandbox quality. Unlike other sandbox genre games which lazily cycle through banal, generic and simple set pieces, each set piece in batman is constructed with thought and diligence, so no stealth section will really feel the same from the other.

Batman also contains a number of side missions to play with, in the form of scanning hidden riddler logos and hidden bits of text containing snippets of Arkham's dark history. Unfortunately, many of these side puzzles require the use of specialist equipment (such as explosives) acquirable only through progression of the plot. Which is annoying and possibly confusing to the first time player. Furthermore, these puzzles are typically, from what i have seen, very simplistic and therefore easily solved with the requisite equipment. A pity. The number of side puzzles should have been reduced, and more time, design and effort allocated per puzzle. I would take 25 decent puzzles over 100.

Another criticism i have of the game relates to the technical side. The game is fairly bugged, and uses Windows Live. Batman has no manual saves - only a revolving auto-save. This generally makes any bug persisting through save and load states fatal. It proved to be in my game - plot important enemies failed to spawn, and i was unable to progress. To this day!

So in conclusion, the game is grand and magnificent in its variety and each of the systems and mechanics of the game are generally fairly well designed. I advise new players to leave the side puzzles until later and also, be prepared to download a friend's autosave.