Reviews by lachking

70

Solid, but makes the game a bit easy

lachking | March 20, 2014 | Review of Tropico 4: Junta

Like the other Tropico 4 DLCs Junta adds new costumes, a trait, a mission and a new building to the game (as well as a few decoration items). The new mission is quite interesting as you do not get immigrants and solely rely on completing military based objectives to receive workers. The new bunker building lets you expand your military quickly without the need of generals. I feel however, that this makes the game a bit too easy as before you needed an armory (and college) to get generals to let you expand your army, but since the bunker overcomes this, the armory is pretty much redundant now. The new costumes and decorations are nice and help add little touches to your banana republic.

80

Dictate into the modern era!

lachking | March 20, 2014 | Review of Tropico 4: Modern Times

As the name suggests, the Modern Times Expansion brings Tropico into the modern era which allows you access to more up-to-date services and buildings. Modern Times does not change the fundamentals of Tropico: you still dictate a banana republic and build structures to make your citizens happy, while making money and (hopefully) winning elections. The game also maintains the tongue -in -cheek sense of humor with many new jokes and entertaining characters in the campaign.

Speaking of the campaign, Modern Times ships with 12 missions which are fairly similar to those of the original Tropico 4 although the difficulty has increased noticeably and you will need to play far more intelligently to be successful. The campaign does however, suffer from the same problem that Tropico 4 had: you don’t really know your ultimate objective and rather just complete a series of tasks only to be lead to the next task. Some people may like this in that you can be caught off guard in where you need to go, but I find it quite annoying to be told you need to carry out a particular action or build a particular building when you did not have the slightest intention to even think about expanding in that particular direction.

Aside from the campaign, the main additions in this expansion are the many new buildings. Some are merely cosmetic upgrades and don’t really do much that is different such as the theatre while others like the Telecom HQ, and Sanatorium are quite useful and offer a new dimension to the game (the latter letting you charge money for health care). Rather than more buildings being added, some buildings are actually replaced with new ones as you progress through time and many old buildings that transform into new ones need electricity to run even if the original didn't, such as the apartment block turning into a modern apartment block. Sometimes it can be a bit annoying that old buildings are unavailable over time, and one such building is the wind power turbine which is replaced by solar power. Modern Times also adds a few more edicts which are fun to use but aren't really necessary to win a game.

At the end of the day, Modern Times updates Tropico 4 without revolutionizing it. The campaign offers more of the same on a higher difficulty scale and many of the new buildings are quite interesting and can push you in new directions. The timeline feature is a great addition as world events come into play which can impact on your profit making ability. If you don’t have this yet, Modern Times provides a great reason to return to your island of paradise.

80

Nice little TD game

lachking | March 20, 2014 | Review of Super Sanctum TD

I must admit, I wasn't expecting much from a mere $4 game but Super Sanctum TD definitely has me hooked. The game is a basic tower defense game where you build different kinds of turrets and mazes to prevent enemies getting to the end. The gameplay is very addictive with many different enemies and abilities at your disposal and there are many different ways to play because you can only have a select few abilities/towers in hand at a time. Some towers/ abilities are more useful than others and you may need to play a level multiple times to figure out the best combination of resources at your disposal. The game’s graphical style and audio isn't great but pure, addictive gameplay is what matters and Super Sanctum TD definitely has that.

85

Great integration of FPS and RPG

lachking | Feb. 11, 2014 | Review of Borderlands 2 (ANZ)

I actually have not played the original Borderlands, so Borderlands 2 offers a gameplay structure that is entirely new to me. This game is a great showcase of how to integrate FPS and RPG elements together. Most of the FPS elements you could want are here: lots of enemies, weapons, locations, voice overs and a strong overall presentation. The RPG elements are also great: you gain experience and levels, find items and you can complete quests in large open worlds in the order that you like. Enemies also respawn over time so you can gain experience by farming in the same area. You can also find money and loot to spend at gun and ammo machines, a mechanic that very much reminds me of Bioshock. Aside from the successful integration of two genres, the game's presentation is excellent. The colour style is great and the whole cartoonly look really creates a vibrant world full of attitude. The voice acting is strong with a rich dialogue and a great sense of humour. The game's characters also have great personality, although I found Claptrap to be rather annoying and a weaker version of Wheatly from Portal 2. What makes the gameplay experience even better is that you can play the campaign cooperatively with friends and work together to complete quests. This is a very good game that is definitely worth your time and money.

85

The best of the series

lachking | Jan. 24, 2014 | Review of Empire Earth: Gold Edition

The original Empire Earth spawned 2 sequels, but in my opinion they are both far inferior to the first game. Empire Earth 3 was a disaster of a computer game and Empire Earth 2 while solid, was very scratchy and a bit too complex. The gameplay of the original Empire Earth is very similar to that of Age of Empires: you gather resources, build an empire and conquer your enemies. The graphical style and interface is also very similar to Age of Empires but there are some large differences. There is an extra resource, iron and the game takes place in many different time periods, from Stone Age all the way up to the future and future time periods add units such as tanks and aircraft. In this pack you're getting alot of value. There are many single player campaigns to play, set in different time periods and under varying civilizations with a variety of objectives such as bringing heroes to a specific location, dominating enemies and even escaping a city. There is also a skirmish mode as well as a scenario and campaign editor. The voice acting in the campaigns is passable, but the in-game cinematics don't really work very well because they zoom right into the characters' faces and its here where the dated and blocky textures really fill the screen and to be frank, look quite horrific. (fortunately you can skip these cinematics).

Being an old game, the graphics and audio are very dated, but the gameplay mechanics are quite good. One odd feature is that the costs of advancing to the next age are extremely high. Back in Age of Empires it cost about 500 food to progress to the next age, but here in Empire Earth it is about 1200. I guess in this way the game is trying to force you to play strategically rather than just tech up quickly, but to me, this does seem a bit odd. Fortunately, you can play in different game modes which reduce this cost. Also, being a dated game, it ran very poorly on my Windows 8 computer for some reason, forcing me to run the game on my Windows 7 machine.

All things considered, this is a pretty good, although dated package. There are lots of campagins to play and many units to have fun with around different time periods. This, in my opinion is the highlight of the Empire Earth series and is a good RTS game. Just be cautious if you have a Windows 8 computer, because the game wouldn't run properly on mine.

65

Solid game, but an uninspired sequel

lachking | Jan. 21, 2014 | Review of Company of Heroes 2

All this time after the original Company of Heroes, many people, including me feel rather let down by what is on offer in Company of Heroes 2. The campaign is pretty standard, and is quite similar to that in the original game in terms of objectives and the level design and the voice acting is adequate. Objectives are pretty standard and involve tasks such as defending a certain area for a specified time, killing waves of enemies and placing mines to destroy enemy vehicles. The fact that your units can freeze to death and that you must go near fire to keep warm is interesting at first, but the mechanic gets old and repetitive rather quickly. In many ways the Russians seem like a re-skinned USA from the first game. Many units and buildings look underwhelming with the models used in the first game looking much better in comparison. What is even more disappointing is that the game's optimization is horrendous. This game looks very similar to the original Company of Heroes and performs terribly. I struggle to get a constant 40fps on low settings on my laptop, and this same laptop gets 60+ fps in the original Company of Heroes with maxed out detail and 50+ fps on high settings in Starcraft 2.

There are some good points of this game though. The Theatre of War game mode is quite interesting as there are multiple challenging missions to complete either solo or with a friend but it does seem a bit of a stretch that you have to pay to play the additional challenges, especially since RTS games generally have thriving communities that produce some truly amazing custom games and modes for free. The integration of Steam Workshop however, is quite cool and provides a good way to download maps made by other people as well as uploading your own custom maps. Your troops can also jump over sandbags now, but honestly is that really game changing?

At the end of the day, Company of Heroes 2 is a solid game, but as a sequel, I was disappointed. The game is hardly any different from the original Company of Heroes, costs much more and performs terribly. Company of Heroes 2 also lacks clan support and the like, a mechanic that RTS games such as Starcraft 2 implement very well. The experience here is definitely solid, but in all honesty you are better off picking up Starcraft 2 and its expansion or even the original Company of Heroes for a fraction of the price.

80

Short and sweet

lachking | Jan. 21, 2014 | Review of BioShock 2: Minerva’s Den

Minerva's Den is a good DLC for Bioshock 2 that essentially provides more of the same gameplay you have come to expect. You still play as a Big Daddy, making your way through Rapture, completing objectives, killing enemies and rescuing (or harvesting) little sisters. Minerva's Den is definitely more fun to play than the original Bioshock 2, helped by a more personal story, more interesting levels and harder enemies such as Big Daddies that can temporarily blind you. The weapons from Bioshock 2 make a re-appearance here, but the order in which you find them is different this time, forcing you to change your strategies. There are also some new weapons and plasmids to use in Minerva's Den, including a new laser gun (my personal favourite) and a gravity well plasmid. Being a $10 DLC the game is fairly short, around the three hour mark, but each of the three levels are really great and deliver a more engaging experience than the original Bioshock 2. I also encountered frequent crashes when playing Minerva's Den, but forcing the game to run in directx 9 mode fixed the problem, although this did decrease the visual quality of the game.

If you have played Bioshock 2, but haven't played Minerva's Den yet, pick it up. It is definitely worth a purchase. Just be warned though, it is fairly short!

85

Great collection of one of the best RTS games

lachking | Jan. 20, 2014 | Review of Company of Heroes: Complete Pack

Company of Heroes to this day, is still one of the best RTS games out there and is a better game than its disappointing sequel. The gameplay is very similar to that of Dawn of War in that you need to hold points to gather resources and to drain the enemies' tickets to zero. Even today, the graphics and audio of Company of Heroes really shine and help deliver a great WWII RTS experience. In this pack you get the original game plus the two expansions which gives you quite a few single-player campaigns to play as well as online games with many different maps to chose from. You can also pick from four different factions from the Allied and Axis sides. While this pack is great, I do believe Opposing Fronts upset the balance of online play a bit and Tales of Valor didn't really add alot to the core experience aside from a few replacement units and a couple of online modes. I would not recommend buying these games individually, but as a bundle this makes for a great purchase.

90

Nice little bundle

lachking | Jan. 9, 2014 | Review of Portal Bundle

This is a great bundle that includes both Portal 1 and 2.The original Portal took the computer gaming world by storm and surprised many people (in a good way). The game is full of witty humour and challenging puzzles where you use your gun to shoot portals that you and objects (such as companion cubes) can enter into to teleport out of the other shot portal. The game was so successful that a sequel was released and this improved the game experience in almost everyway by presenting the player with more challenging puzzles, more tools to use, differing environments and stronger character development. Portal 2 even has a level editor and Steam Workshop support where you can upload your own test chamber creations as well as downloading those that other people have made. Portal 2 also has co-op play where you and a friend need to work together to solve puzzles and reach the exits of many different levels.

Both games have a nice visual style utilising the Source engine very well, and the audio in both games is excellent with humorous voice acting containing lots of good jokes and insults. Both games also have catchy songs at the end, although the one in the original Portal is probably better than the song at the end of Portal 2.

This is a great bundle that is very much worth your time if you haven't experienced the world of Portal yet. The sequel is definitely better, but the original provides a great warm-up. This pack will provide you with a great single player and multiplayer experience. Just be aware though, if you want to play the multiplayer that Portal 2 has, you will need a friend who also has Portal 2.

90

Classic online shooting

lachking | Jan. 8, 2014 | Review of Counter Strike

The original Counter Strike is one of the all time classic online FPS shooters which started just as a mod for Half Life 1. Although sequels have been released since with more up-to-date features, the original Counter Strike has lots to offer if no-nonsense competitive gameplay suits you. The game has very little luck and is mostly skill based and you will need to play well to be successful. For example, if you run around even with the more powerful weapons, a stationed player with even a weaker weapon will likely kill you easily. Spraying and praying also doesn't work very well, forcing you to shoot intelligently in short, controlled bursts. As you can tell from the screenshots above, the graphics are extremely dated but pure gameplay is far more important than visual charm and aesthetics. Besides, if you play properly and concentrate on doing well who cares about graphics? Being an old game, the original Counter Strike is also missing unlockables,experience point gains and level upgrades, something that modern shooters like Battlefield 4 have. At the end of the day, if you want pure no-nonsense online shooting that rewards skill and you don't care about graphics, this is your game. Just be warned though, it is tough!

60

Great games but an odd collection

lachking | Jan. 6, 2014 | Review of Left 4 Dead Bundle (LV)

This pack contains both Left 4 Dead 1 and 2 which are great multiplayer FPS co-op games where you kill waves of zombies in finding your way to the exit. The problem with this pack is that it is only worth a purchase if you are new to the series and even then it is a bit pointless having Left 4 Dead 1 since the sequel improves upon the original Left 4 Dead in almost every way possible through adding more enemies, characters, weapons and levels. The sequel also has Steam Workshop support where you can download user made mods to improve the longevity of the game. While both games are great, in all honesty you are better off just having Left 4 Dead 2 (and saving some money) and all the co-op zombie killing carnage it provides while giving the original a miss.

95

What a pack!!

lachking | Jan. 6, 2014 | Review of Valve Complete Pack

This is quite possibly the best computer game collection of all time. In this pack you get pretty much everything Valve has made. From Half-Life to Counterstrike, to Day of Defeat, to Portal to Left 4 Dead and everything in-between, all your desires for single player and multiplayer FPS will truly be satisfied with this pack. There are literally hundreds of hours to be spent playing all the different games in this pack. This collection is truly something special. Pick it up!

85

Excellent shooter that requires team work

lachking | Jan. 5, 2014 | Review of Left 4 Dead (LV)

Left 4 Dead is a very good shooter that requires cooperation between players if you want to be successful. You and 3 other players (or AI players) make your way through a series of levels to try to find the safehouse. Along your way you'll face hordes of different types of zombies. It pays to stay very close to one another as you will need another players' assistance if a special zombie uses its ability on you or you are pinned down. The game's graphical style is really nice, creating a dark and spooky atmosphere and the accompanying music helps create this atmosphere. Although the gameplay is very enjoyable, the premise can get a bit repetitive as all you're really doing is shooting zombie after zombie while walking around. The quality of players you get can also make or break the experience as one stupid player can hold everyone else back. These minor issues aside, Left 4 Dead is a great online cooperative shooter that is really good fun with mates!

90

Some of the best games ever from Valve

lachking | Jan. 5, 2014 | Review of The Orange Box

The Orange Box is a collection of some absolute gems from Valve. You get the complete Half Life 2 collection, which is the vanilla Half Life 2 and its 2 episodes, which quite possibly represents single player FPS at its finest. You also get the first Portal which is a really engaging and innovative game which took the computer game world by storm when it came out. The pack also includes Team Fortress 2 but it is free-to-play now though. This is a great pack with some fantastic single player experience and multiplayer experience. If you haven't played Half Life 2 yet (where have you been??) then this pack is definitely a must buy!!

80

Great game, although hard and overshadowed by the sequel

lachking | Jan. 3, 2014 | Review of Counter Strike: Source

CS Source is a very good multiplayer shooter which still has a strong player base. The game is essentially CS 1.6 with improved graphics and effects and uses the source engine very well. Although the game is very good, it is a bit redundant since Global Offensive ( the sequel) has been released. Global Offensive has made lots of changes to make the CS experience more accessible, but I know that some hardcore CS players do not like Global Offensive very much. If you're new to the series, I would recommend Global Offensive since it has made improvements to the CS formula and is more accessible for new players. CS Source is still good though, but the fact remains that newbies to Counterstrike would likely get hammered by veterans who dislike Global Offensive.

90

Really great game that still holds up well today

lachking | Jan. 1, 2014 | Review of World in Conflict Complete Edition

World in Conflict was superb when it came out, and even today is still very good. The gameplay is very similar to Ground Control 2 in that you do not collect resources or build bases but rather call in extra units by air. The game's campaign missions are great with a variety of different types of objectives and locations. You merely control just a small squad and the game creates a great atmosphere with many other battles happening on the map and it really makes you feel as though you are taking part in a large-scale conflict. The interesting thing about the complete edition of World in Conflict is that the campaign from the original and the expansion are intertwined together to create one smooth experience rather than presenting the player with 2 different campaigns.

Aside from the campaign, there is also skirmish mode against the AI and of course on-line play. On-line is where the game really shines as you need to communicate with team mates and work together using different types of units and abilities to succeed. However it must be said that the player base has definitely declined as the game is now quite old.

The game's presentation is great. The visual style is excellent by today's standards with great lighting and effects and is surprisingly demanding for even modern computers. The game's sound is also great with excellent voice acting, sound effects and music.

Although dated, World in Conflict is still great. If you haven't played this game yet, the complete edition is a great way to immerse yourself in the game. Definitely recommended!

75

Very good game mode

lachking | Dec. 31, 2013 | Review of Warhammer 40000: Dawn of War II: Retribution - The Last Standalone

The last stand is an enjoyable multiplayer game mode for those that don't have the actual Dawn of War 2 Retribution game. In this game mode, 3 heroes defend an area and control points from waves of different enemies. You gain more points for surviving longer and killing more enemies. You will gain experience and unlock more items and abilities as you gain levels. There are many different items, but you can only have some selected at a time, so there is a good amount of replay value as you can try different item combinations. This is a very good standalone hero defence game with strong RPG elements.

75

Good violent open world game

lachking | Dec. 28, 2013 | Review of Mafia II

Mafia 2 is a pretty solid game that in alot of ways reminds me of GTA. In the game you drive around, walk around and engage in crime related missions around a large city. Some missions revolve around killing certain people and others may involve driving to a certain location which is quite similar to missions in GTA. Others may also involve stealth and picking locks. The graphics design is quite nice and the portrayal of 1950s mafia conflict is done really well, with in-game radio music to support this. The game is not for the faint hearted however, as it is quite violent, and the language is quite extreme with a fair amount of swearing. The main problem of the game though is that it feels a bit empty and lifeless. Although the city is large, it does feel a bit lacking in substance as there are not many interactive locations like those in GTA. Some of the missions are also a bit dull and pointless, for example putting crates in a truck, going to the fridge to get something to eat or answering a call on the telephone. All said, however, Mafia 2 does most things pretty well, but it is nowhere near as good as GTA.

80

Good online shooter, although a bit shallow on content

lachking | Dec. 28, 2013 | Review of Day of Defeat: Source

It's a shame that Day of Defeat Source hasn't been as active as Team Fortress or Counterstrike because this game is actually quite good. It's interesting to note that this game is sort of Counterstrike and Team Fortress put together. The game has that Counterstrike feel, interface and graphics, but has multiple classes to pick from, which is a Team Fortress mechanic, although some of the classes are not all that different from one another. Being a source engine game, the graphics are quite good, but the sound is a bit mediocre. The maps in this game are solid, with a mix of open land and building corridors and you can also prone and sprint, a mechanic that other source games don't have. The main negative of this game is that it is a bit lacking in content. There haven't been many updates for this game like Team Fortress 2 has received, and there aren't many official maps either, although some servers rotate through community maps which are very well made. There are some servers to find for this game but there are not as many as Team Fortress or Counterstrike. Although this game doesn't have as much content as other Valve multiplayer games, this is still a very good online shooter that is worth your time.

75

Online fps where you can throw toilets!

lachking | Dec. 28, 2013 | Review of Half Life 2: Deathmatch

Half Life 2 Deathmatch is a good game which is essentially the multiplayer component of Half-Life 2. The graphics and audio are essentially identical to that of Half-Life 2. The most popular weapon is definitely the gravity gun, as you can toss objects such as rocks, barrels and even toilets at your foes to kill them quickly. The extreme power and popularity of the gravity gun is sort of a downside though because it makes the other weapons redundant if there are plenty of objects around to pick up. The player base for this game is also quite small and there aren't really a large number of servers to find. If you can find a server though, there is some good object throwing fun to be had with this game.

75

Interesting to see things from a different perspective

lachking | Dec. 27, 2013 | Review of Half Life: Opposing Force

Opposing Force is a solid game which provides an interesting look of the events of the original Half-Life from a different perspective. Instead of playing as the scientist Gordon Freeman, you play as a soldier. The gameplay, graphics and sound are essentially the same as those from Half-Life (which are quite dated) although there are some new enemies and weapons. The level design while solid, is not as great as that in the original Half-Life. This game is pretty good and provides more corridor shooting fun and exploration. Just don't expect to be amazed like you may have been when you first played the original Half-Life.

90

Excellent kart racer

lachking | Dec. 27, 2013 | Review of Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed 4 Pack

Sonic and All -Stars Racing Transformed is a superb game and is much better than I expected it to be. The game is full of personality and has features not really seen in other kart racers. The most obvious difference to other kart racers is the transformation of your car to a plane or boat depending on the terrain. Another great difference is that race tracks will change as the race progresses, for example, a road segment you drove on in the first lap may be a river in the third lap. The game's audio style is excellent with catchy music and great voiceovers with lots of funny lines. The graphical style is top notch with great colour depth and lots of animations in the background. This game is also great for multiplayer, and with this pack you can invite 3 friends to play with you for some competitive action, whether that be a race or one of the game's other modes such as battle. I would definitely recommend this pack!

90

Series keeps getting better

lachking | Dec. 26, 2013 | Review of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim® (AU)

Skyrim is the fifth instalment in the Elder Scrolls series and is another great game in the long running franchise. Like earlier games in the series, you create the character of your dreams and make your own way around a large world completing quests, discovering locations, finding items and interacting with NPCs. It is really up to you how you want to play; whether that be as a character such as a noble swordsman, sneaky thief or sorcerer. The graphics and audio have been drastically improved in Skyrim and the whole ice sort of environment looks fantastic with lots of atmospheric effects. The in-game cinematic at the start of Skyrim really sets the scene well and is definitely better than the introduction that Morrowind and Oblivion had. If I were to criticise the game, it is that this alongside the other Elder Scrolls games have no multiplayer whatsoever, so the game does have that lonely feeling sometimes. Still, this is a minor complaint really. If you like RPGs or even if you don't, Skyrim is a game that is simply fantastic and is well worth your time and money.

75

Good old fps game

lachking | Dec. 26, 2013 | Review of Project Snowblind CAP

Project Snowblind although now dated, is a pretty good FPS game. At first glance, the game looks alot like Deus Ex, and in many ways it plays like Deus Ex, but unlike Deus Ex there aren't really RPG elements, this is mostly just an FPS game. Being an FPS game, Project Snowblind has many different weapons to use and the level design is quite good although the aim assist makes the game a tad on the easy side. As the game is quite old, you will definately notice that the voice acting and graphical style leaves a bit to be desired by today's standards. Its also quite annoying that the game only supports low resolutions; the highest resolution I could pick was 1024x768, and this, coupled by the dated graphics is not a great look. If you can overlook the dated graphics and sound, there is a pretty good FPS experience to be had with this game.

60

Pretty, but ultimately an empty city builder

lachking | Dec. 24, 2013 | Review of Cities XL 2011

On first impressions, Cities XL 2011 looks great. The graphical style is really nice, there are lots of different maps to choose from and there are many different types of structures and services at your disposal in building the city of your dreams. There are some other nice features such as being able to trade resources between cities and you can also zoom right in to see cars and people at close-up. It is also quite convenient that you can zone properties very quickly rather than having to click for each new house you would like to place.

Unfortunately, the initial great impression is only skin deep and the game is at its core, quite lifeless. There is very little feedback given to you as the player, forcing you to rely merely on the text presented to you. Despite the fact you see cars and people travelling around the city, it just feels really empty and lacking in life. The music while decent, has the potential to make you fall asleep at the desk, and the interface is quite clunky with many different tabs which I constantly get lost in. The game's optimisation is also not great, with even my new computer struggling to cope once cities reach a certain size or when you zoom out entirely.

At the end of the day, Cities XL 2011 succeeds in presentation, but lets itself down in its implementation. If you want a great city builder I would suggest you pick up Simcity 4 or Tropico 4 instead.

90

Experiment Paid Off

lachking | Dec. 23, 2013 | Review of Portal

Portal was an unexpected gem when it came out and surprised almost everyone. The concept seems so simple, but at the same time is ingenious: you simply shoot a portal and teleport out where you shoot the other. Puzzles make great use of this: you can fall and gain speed, and you can also drop objects such as companion cubes into the portal so that it comes out of the other one. The puzzles start easy but as you progress will become more difficult and will challenge your problem solving skills. Aside from the puzzles, the graphical style is great and makes effective use of the source engine.The game is also full of witty humour and hilarious lines from Glados which are really entertaining even though they are generally insults to you. Although overshadowed by the sequel, the original Portal still has much to offer if you haven't played it yet.

90

One of the All-Time Classics

lachking | Dec. 20, 2013 | Review of Half Life

Way back in 1998, Half-Life took the video game world by storm and was truly something special. Even now, many years later, few games have surpassed the quality presented here. Almost everything about Half-Life is incredible: the beginning tram sequence sets the scene magnificently, the level design is absolutely incredible and the plot is engaging and makes you think deeply about what you are really doing. The whole single continuous level concept is really cool and you can see how all the different environments connect.

Throughout the game you will fight different types of enemies, ranging from aliens such as headcrabs to human soldiers, the latter having great AI. Soldiers communicate to each other, take cover and attempt to retreat if injured and this really showcases the complex AI for the time.

In terms of presentation, the graphics and audio are admittedly very dated, but great gameplay in my opinion is far more important than graphics. If you really care about graphics though, Black Mesa (a mod) may be of interest.

You can't go wrong with Half-Life. The game has incredible levels, gameplay mechanics, AI and plot points. You seriously cannot consider yourself a gamer if you haven't played this!

95

The Best Half-Life Has to Offer

lachking | Dec. 18, 2013 | Review of Half Life 2: Episode 2

Episode 2 takes place directly after the events of Episode 1 and is quite possibly the highlight of the entire Half-Life series to date. After the underwhelming Episode 1, Episode 2 has many plot twists which are really grabbing and may even make you cry a little (I won't mention what actually happens so that I don't spoil plot points for people who haven't played this). Episode 2 takes you to a variety of locations on the outskirts of City 17 such as mines, forests, antlion nests, country towns as well as the White Forest silo base. There is also a good mix of combat and puzzle solving with strong level design. The new hunter enemy is also interesting and will provide for some tense battles with its initial encounter being quite a shock to behold. The graphics and presentation are still essentially the same as Episode 1 and look great, and the game's audio and voice acting provides a good mix between the humorous and serious.

Episode 2 has so much going for it and flawlessly showcases the capabilities of Half-Life. Where is Episode 3/ Half Life 3 Gabe??

90

Fantastic Addition to the Series

lachking | Dec. 16, 2013 | Review of Counter Strike: Global Offensive

CS: GO may seem like an unnecessary addition to the CS franchise as the core gameplay is still essentially the same and the game still only uses the source engine. However, CS: GO makes some good additions and refinements to the formula: there are new guns, maps, improved graphics, sounds and some of the maps have been re-made and re-balanced. There are also some new game modes such as arms race and this is a good game mode for those that don't like having to wait when they die. The new game modes are representative of an experience one would expect from a traditional COD game, and Valve have done a good job fitting it into the Counter-strike experience. Valve recently added item drops including cases and guns with skins, meaning you can collect items just by playing which is similar to the whole hat system of Team Fortress 2. Counterstrike veterans and newcomers alike, CS: GO is a great game that improves upon previous Counterstrike games in every way. Pick it up!

70

The Weak Link of the Series

lachking | Dec. 13, 2013 | Review of Half Life 2: Episode 1

Episode One is definitely the weakest link in the Half Life 2 series. The main problem with Episode One is that not much happens: you go into the Citadel, Alyx picks up a copy of the Transmission, and then you escape City 17. The game is also very short, about a third the length of Half Life 2. In my opinion, the beginning of Episode One (inside the Citadel) is a bit boring. The game does get better once you leave the citadel and are presented with numerous puzzles. The hospital portion is also quite good and the new zombine enemy is quite humorous. Episode One is not bad by any means, but having played through all the Half Life games, this stands out as being comparatively weak.

90

Great Game Made Even Better

lachking | Dec. 13, 2013 | Review of Sid Meier's Civilization V: Brave New World (AU)

Brave New World makes some great additions to Civilization V and makes the core game a far more enjoyable and tactical experience. Aside from adding more Civilizations, wonders, buildings and units the game introduces some new mechanics that change the core experience greatly. The introduction of trade using merchants and ships is an interesting addition that makes it easier to obtain large amounts of gold, gain science or to spread your religion among other civilizations. Diplomacy now has far more depth through the means of a congress system where you and other civilizations vote on world issues that will drastically affect the game. It helps to be tactical with the voting because a certain affect may benefit you, but at the same time it may upset other civilizations and tarnish their relations with you and can even lead to war. The game also adds more great people such as great writers and musicians which can create great works for you and help to increase your culture output, aiding you in achieving a cultural victory. All these new additions are great and help to create a more tactical Civilization experience. This expansion is a must buy!

90

Better in Almost Every Way Possible

lachking | Dec. 1, 2013 | Review of Portal 2

After the great game that was Portal, Portal 2 takes the original and makes it better in almost every possible way. The single player game is much longer now, there are more challenging puzzles, there are more tools to use and there are different types of environments. In addition to Glados, Portal 2 introduces some new characters, the most significant being Wheatley and to say the least he is annoyingly funny. Since its release, Valve have also provided a level editor as a free download so that you can make your own levels and upload them on the Steam Workshop to share with others. You can also use the Steam Workshop to download the levels other people have made, and believe me, there are some superb levels out there. Portal 2 is also great for multiplayer as you and a friend can play the co-op campaign and this provides some great challenges as you need to work together to solve the puzzles and reach the exit. If you haven't picked up Portal 2 yet, get it. Get your friends to pick it up too so then you can play the co-op campaign as well!

80

Great Cooperative Shooter

lachking | Dec. 1, 2013 | Review of Left 4 Dead 2

This is a strong sequel that adds some good new features without changing the fundamentals of the original Left 4 Dead. There are new items, characters,enemies, weapons, levels and the like as well as new music. The only real problem is that the core experience tends to get quite repetitive as all you're really doing is shooting wave upon wave of enemies to get to the safe house or rescue point. However, the experience is great for the most part and can definitely be a whole lot of fun, especially with friends in co-op.

95

An Absolute Classic

lachking | Dec. 1, 2013 | Review of Half-Life 2

An all time classic. Even after playing through Half-Life 2 countless times, I still get a great deal of fun out of playing it. Almost everything about the game is top notch: the levels, characters, music, sound and graphical style. The game's physics were at the time unheard of and still even today are quite good in how you can use the gravity gun to pick up and throw objects at enemies and to solve puzzles. As you play, you will see the characters develop and you will start to care about them and how they interact. The whole game being a long continuous level is also really cool as you can clearly see how the whole game links together. If I were to nitpick the game, the vehicle sections are a little too long, especially the car levels, but this is just a minor complaint really. If you haven't played this yet where have you been?!?!?

85

Great Collection

lachking | Nov. 29, 2013 | Review of Deus Ex Pack

This is a great collection containing games from arguably one of the best computer game franchises. For those unfamiliar with the franchise, Deus Ex games are a mix between FPS, RPG and stealth where you the player can choose how to progress into the game. You can play how you wish, whether that be through stealth or brute force, and the choices you make can impact on plot points. Invisible War is obviously the weak link here, but is still a solid game in its own right. The graphics of the original Deus Ex are admittedly very dated now but the depth the game has is incredible. Human Revolution is also great, although the boss fights and AI are rather underwhelming. Despite some pitfalls, you are getting good value with this pack. A great purchase!

80

Nostalgia Alert!

lachking | Oct. 30, 2013 | Review of DOOM Classic Complete (AU)

Doom, for those who don’t know is basically the game that has shaped the FPS genre into what it is today. In this pack you’re getting the full experience of the classics that shaped the genre. The graphics and art style are admittedly very dated now but the classic Dooms are about endless shooting and running around, not about wowing at scenery. I must say though that the music is still quite catchy. Throughout the games you will run through environments, kill enemies, flick switches and grab keys to find the exit of each level to take you to the next. Many may say it’s a repetitive formula, but for those that like endless shooting there is great fun to be had here. Even if you've played these games many times, it’s still a blast to play through the games you may have grown up with again and re-visit those early memories. There’s that feeling you get playing these that you just don’t get in modern shooters. Pick this up if you haven’t. Here’s hoping that Doom 4 will arrive soon and perhaps id may be able to revolutionize the FPS genre again?

70

Solid, but Overshadowed by Newer Entries

lachking | Oct. 28, 2013 | Review of Tropico Reloaded Cap

This pack contains both Tropico 1 and Tropico 2 which are fairly solid games in their own right, but are made rather redundant by the existence of Tropico 3 and Tropico 4. If you have played either Tropico 3 or Tropico 4, you will find that this pack misses a lot of the features such as cars and roads, and for this reason, I would not recommend playing this pack if you have one of the more recent games. This is also compounded by the fact that Tropico 2 is a rather weak game in itself, and Tropico 1 ran into issues on my computer including crashing and distorted graphics. The graphics of these games aren’t bad but are definitely dated and the sound is decent. The saving grace is that this pack is quite cheap compared to the newer Tropicos. There is definite fun to be had with this pack, but just be warned that the mechanics are dated and have been superseded.

85

Almost Like a Work of Art

lachking | Oct. 28, 2013 | Review of Bastion Cap

Bastion is one of the most interesting and atmospheric RPGS I have ever played. Right off the bat the mechanics seem simple enough: you play as a “Kid” travelling around different environments gathering cores and other materials, killing enemies along the way. However the game is much deeper than this initial impression. One of the biggest mechanics of the game is the graphical style: it is simply superb. Everything around you is hand-painted and the colour dynamics are incredible across the large array of different environments. The way the land forms around you as you move is also fantastic. The game’s narration is also great with a mix of serious and humorous lines and makes you feel as though you are a character that is part of a novel. As you play you will also unlock different weapons and equipment offering different ways to combat the enemies although it must be said that the actual combat mechanics of the game are a little basic but nevertheless suit the game well as the emphasis is definitely on atmosphere and the game nails this hands down.

90

The Start of Great Things

lachking | Oct. 8, 2013 | Review of Far Cry

Back in the day, Far Cry was something special and still stands well today. The game deviates from a more linear type of single player FPS offering you multiple pathways to progress in completing your objectives. The whole tropical atmosphere is breathtaking with fantastic scenery and effects. The game’s AI is strong but at the same time is a little bit too intelligent because if they hear even the slightest noise from you they go on full alert straight away, which to me seems a bit over the top. The game’s sound effects, music and voice acting are also great, adding to the fantastic presentation. There are also different vehicles to drive such as boats, cars and gliders to add more variety to the experience. Far Cry’s weapon system is also good in that you can only carry a certain number of guns at a time, forcing you to drop old weapons and make important tactical decisions as you progress. It is all these little aspects that come together that make Far Cry such a great game. Although dated and overshadowed by newer Far Cry titles and of course the Crysis franchise, the original Far Cry still has much to offer if you haven’t played it already.

55

The downfall of the series

lachking | Sept. 27, 2013 | Review of Empire Earth 3

The first two Empire Earth games were quite good. There was a strong hybrid of Civilization and Age of Empires and it was fun to progress through the ages using units of different time periods. Empire Earth 3 falls short in many areas but the main problem is that this game has been simplified too much. Empire Earth 2 had 15 epochs in total and this game has 5. Rather than gradual changes through time that Empire Earth 2 had, Empire Earth 3 brings drastic changes as you progress and this leads to players trying to advance as quickly as possible rather than play strategically. The world domination idea is solid, but it is nowhere near as deep as Civilization. The game’s graphics are also solid, but like Empire Earth 2 the audio is disappointing: it is annoying and not particularly funny at all. The game’s AI is also pretty weak with poorly scripted unit path-finding. Some may say that Empire Earth 2 was a bit too deep and inaccessible to non RTS fans, but Empire Earth 3 simplifies the formula too much. A deeper and more complex experience is superior to a shallow and simplified one. Pick up Empire Earth 2 instead.

85

Good Improvements to the Series

lachking | Sept. 26, 2013 | Review of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion Game of the Year Edition (AU)

Oblivion makes some good improvements over Morrowind, but as a game it will not please all fans. Like Morrowind, Oblivion is an open world game where you can play the game in whatever way you like, whether that be good, bad, evil, magic and so on. The graphical style has received a nice update, with much brighter scenery and animations. The music is also better now than it was in Morrowind with more track diversity. Oblivion also contains voice acting and each character also verbally talks as opposed to text just being on the screen like in Morrowind. NPCs are also more believable in Oblivion and live a life such as going to the shops and going to bed. Another addition is the compass direction arrow which points you to important locations in your current quest and this is a nice addition but at the same time it can take away from the whole discovery element of a quest. There are some noticeable pitfalls however. The game’s lighting while nice can actually make NPCs look a little creepy at times. Oblivion also lacks the large diversity in environments that Morrowind had and you’ll basically just see medieval scenery and forts the whole game. Granted these are just nitpicks, but they do detract a bit from the overall enjoyment of the game. Nevertheless, Oblivion is a great game and a good improvement over Morrowind. Yes there are faults but I would say that it is very difficult for such a large open world game to be completely perfect. I personally prefer this over Morrowind but I know plenty of people who would think otherwise.

85

Great Open World Adventure

lachking | Sept. 26, 2013 | Review of The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind Game of The Year Edition (AU)

Morrowind is a fantastic game where the world is quite literally your oyster. You can create the character of your dreams from a number of different races and class types. Once you have created your character in the short introductory segment you can do whatever you want in the game. For example, you can be noble and help people; you can be a sneaky thief and steal people’s possessions, or you can be evil and kill people. You can of course also play magic and use all sorts of cool spells too. The game world is vast, with many different locations such as towns, cities, caves and forests and the scenery itself is spectacular. You will also encounter many different types of creatures to fight, making for some great battles although the cliff racers are just outright annoying and bothersome to fight. The game’s soundtrack is also great, although also a bit repetitive and the graphical style while nice, is a little bit dated, which is most apparent in NPC textures and animations. Although a bit dated and overshadowed by newer additions to the series, Morrowind is still a great game in its own right.

80

Great Game But Not Without Its Weaknesses

lachking | Aug. 7, 2013 | Review of Quake IV (AU)

Quake 4 at its heart is a great game that makes good use of the Doom 3 engine. You play as Matthew Kane, the sole survivor of your spacecraft and you make your way through the game’s levels achieving objectives and interacting with other characters. The game’s plot is quite enthralling with often gruesome in-game cut scenes and Hollywood style acting. In order to beat the Strogg force you actually become one of them later in the game, making for some interesting plot twists. The game’s audio and visuals are excellent and create a dark and scary atmosphere that you actually feel a part of. In spite of the excellence of the campaign there are some shortcomings however. The vehicle sections are quite underwhelming and I feel they are only there to advertise the game’s capabilities and variety rather than being a fun experience in their own right. The multiplayer is also lacking and is essentially just Quake 3 or Open Arena with more high-tech graphics and a lower player base. With these pitfalls stated, I must say that Quake 4 is still a great game, but there are definite moments of weakness to be found.

70

Nice Little Extras

lachking | Aug. 6, 2013 | Review of Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed: Metal Sonic Pack

This is a solid DLC with some good extras but don’t expect the game experience to be drastically different. The new map, Outrun Bay is a nice mix of road and water with beautiful beach scenery and jumping platforms, making for an interesting track. Metal Sonic is also a nice addition to the game and he starts at the maximum level so you can pick all his different mods from the outset.

70

Good Concepts But a Bit Limited

lachking | Aug. 5, 2013 | Review of Droplitz

Droplitz is an interesting puzzle game at heart. Your aim is to rotate pieces to lead paths to the exits and you get more points for more combos and it is quite a challenging concept. The aesthetics of the game are nice with changing backgrounds and peaceful music and effects. Although the game’s concepts are good, options are a bit limited. There are some different game modes you can unlock by playing, but there is not a large variety, and it can be quite difficult to unlock these extra modes, forcing you to play just the standard game mode for quite some time. There is some fun to be had with this game, and the concepts are good, but the game itself is also a bit shallow.

90

Unexpected Surprise

lachking | July 30, 2013 | Review of Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed

Sonic and all Stars Racing Transformed is much better than I expected it to be. To say the least it is quite possibly the best kart racer I have ever played, and I have played quite a few such as Mario Kart, Crash Team Racing and Crash Nitro Kart. The game is chock full of personality. There are arrays of vibrant colours and locations and well as great soundtracks and map effects and general aesthetics. Race tracks even change throughout the race and a road segment you drove on in lap 1 may be a river in lap 3. There are many characters from various different games to play as and unlock such as General Winter from Company of Heroes 2 and each has a distinct art style with accompanying voice quotes. The game also has many different modes to play such as World Tour, Grand Prix and Quick race, as well as multiplayer modes such as quick battle.

One of the game’s best features is the integration of boating and flying segments of races. In this game you are not just kart racing, but throughout the races your kart will change to a boat or plane and this brings different dynamics into account such as wave effects on water. The flying mechanic is also nice but can be a bit difficult sometimes because of the camera view of the game, making you fly into objects sometimes, heavily impacting your race performance.

The game is also well suited to different player abilities, with no player group being left out in the cold. You can play on 3 different difficulty settings and harder difficulties award more stars to unlock more goodies but at the same time less capable players are still able to progress into the game, but will just unlock less material.

Sonic and All Stars Racing is an unexpected gem. There have been multiple mediocre kart racing games over the years and I expected this game to be the same. Boy was I wrong. This game is full of personality, different characters, many game modes, changing race tracks, lots of multiplayer options, varying difficulty options and breathtaking graphical scenery. Pick up this game. You won’t regret it.

80

Very good FPS

lachking | June 25, 2013 | Review of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

MW2 is a very strong FPS both online and off. The campaign is quite good with a mix of different locations and objectives and the voice acting for the most part is sound. Although reasonably short, the campaign offers a good single player experience. The meat of this game is of course the multiplayer. There are a variety of different game modes such as team death match and free for all with several different maps to play on and classes to play. The progression system is effective and you will gain experience and levels as you play. You will also unlock goodies as you play such as dog tags. There are some pitfalls in the experience however. Some perks are very annoying, such as bombers and helicopters. There are also no dedicated servers meaning you need to search each time you want to play. Also, because the game is reasonably old now, newcomers can expect to get hammered by veterans of the game, ie level 70 players.

70

Not a Bad DLC

lachking | May 27, 2013 | Review of Tropico 4: Pirate Heaven DLC

Pirate Heaven adds some interesting things to Tropico 4. The new smuggler building is the best addition to the game and it allows you to illegally import extra goods at a much cheaper price but at the same time increases crime, meaning you’ll need to build more police stations. The new mission is pretty good as well throwing you with many challenges. The new costumes are a bit pointless but are all a bit of fun I guess and the new trait will help your economy as dock buildings will be cheaper and travel times of the ships themselves will be decreased. A solid addition to the Tropico 4 experience.

75

Pretty Good Game

lachking | May 17, 2013 | Review of Worms Blast

Worms Blast is a departure from the traditional Worms gameplay but still makes for a fun experience. Instead of the turn based mayhem, 2 players fight against each other in real time. You shoot coloured blocks, collect weapons and attempt to kill your opponent on the other side of the divider. There are a large variety of weapons, ranging from the traditional bazooka to the gigantic sea monster and the hungry piranhas. There is also a single player mode, called puzzle where the game offers you an array of challenges which will not only test your Worms Blast abilities, but also your ability to problem solve. You unlock characters and game modes as you progress and you can use them when playing against a friend or AI opponent in versus mode. The game has a nice visual style with bright colours and the accompanying music suits the cheerful atmosphere of the game well. Worms fans may be disappointed with the game’s departure from the traditional gameplay, but Worms Blast is a pretty solid game is its own right and offers a fun experience.

95

Incredible Experience

lachking | May 17, 2013 | Review of Deus Ex: Game of the Year Edition DNS

Deus Ex, although an old game now is still one of the best out there. The game cleverly mixes the genres of FPS, RPG and stealth together to create a superb and engrossing experience. You can play the game as you wish, whether that be killing everyone as a strength character or sneaking around as a stealth character. The story is engaging and what you do will impact on plot points and what characters say to you. The voice acting is top notch with a mix of serious and humorous lines. Throughout the game you will visit a variety of locations such as downtown New York, underground sewers and hidden terrorist bases with many different tasks to complete including optional secondary objectives. The graphics are admittedly dated, and the game appears to always be at night time but the game is much deeper than visual impressions. This is a superb game that should be experienced by everyone.

80

Pretty Good RTS

lachking | May 10, 2013 | Review of Empire Earth 2: Gold Edition

Empire Earth 2 is a pretty old game now but it still is quite good. In most respects, Empire Earth 2 is Age of Empires and Civilization put together and works well for the most part. There are a variety of different campaigns and many different factions each with different bonuses and unique units. A standard skirmish or online game can take you through the ages from stone age times all the way to the future and it can be fun to fight your way through time using units of different time periods. The game also has weather effects such as rain which can alter the state of battle and the effectiveness of units. The battle plans interface is also interesting and allows you to coordinate an attack properly with AI teammates. The expansion pack improves the game by adding more units, factions and a tug of war game mode. The expansion also allows you to upgrade regular units to heroes, making them more effective in combat. In terms of presentation, the game is solid but not outstanding. The graphics are quite good, and the added picture in picture gives you an extra set of eyes on the battlefield. The music is also solid, containing a variety of different tracks suited to the civilization you’re playing. The sound effects however, are a bit of a letdown and mainly just consist of generic explosions, dying sounds and repeated unit dialogue. At the end of the day, this package is quite good, but also a bit dated. A good hybrid of Age of Empires and Civilization.

75

Pretty Solid Racer

lachking | May 10, 2013 | Review of SSV8NC Superstar V8 Next Challenge

V8 Next Challenge as a racer is a pretty solid and complete package. There are a variety of different game modes such as quick race, race weekend and Championship and there are various cars to pick, although the actual differences between them are not that large aside from the embedded colours and logos. The graphical presentation is quite nice in terms of colour depth and your car will begin to look battered as you take damage. The game can be a bit easy as the AI is not really aggressive and will not really try to stop you overtaking them but you can increase the difficulty by disabling certain assists, enabling penalties and setting the transmission to manual. All said, an enjoyable racing experience can be had with this game.

80

Nice Real Time Tactics

lachking | April 26, 2013 | Review of Ground Control II: Operation Exodus

Ground Control 2 is a fun and exciting strategy real time tactics game. The most obvious difference to other strategy games like Starcraft is that there is no base building and you instead get extra units by way of a dropship. You gain requisition points by capturing strategic locations and you can use these points to buy more units and upgrades or use on special abilities. There are two playable races in the game: the humans and the Viron and each race gets a campaign which offers a variety of missions with solid voice acting to accompany the story in your fight against the Terrans. It is a bit odd however that you are unable to play as Terran at all, even in multiplayer or skirmish games. The highlight of the game however is the graphical style and effects. Simply said, the graphics are sublime. You can zoom in really close to the battle to the point you can hear your units’ footsteps and you can pan the camera to see the beautiful night sky with the reflection of planets and stars. When it rains you can even see the water run off on the terrain and the way the water itself reflects the above sky is simply dazzling. This is a great game with streamlined gameplay and an excellent atmosphere to keep you playing.

70

Solid but better options exist

lachking | April 6, 2013 | Review of Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad

Red Orchestra is an FPS set in the World War 2 Era and is now definitely a solid game after a rocky launch, but it must be said that better options do exist such as Counterstrike GO and Battlefield 3. Red Orchestra however, does have some good concepts. The map design is quite good offering a variety of different settings often with buildings and rubble to give you cover. There are a variety of classes to pick and you even have the option to drive tanks, a mechanic Battlefield veterans will be familiar with. The visuals and sounds are also quite good, creating an immersive World War 2 Atmosphere. However, the game itself is quite difficult, and you will often die in one hit. The game is also much slower paced than other online shooters, so many may find it a tad boring. The single player AI in the campaign is also rather weak and will constantly get in your way and hinder your progress.

85

Great game with some annoyances

lachking | March 28, 2013 | Review of DiRT 3

Dirt 3 is a great racing game with various game modes across many maps, and for the most part, is an entertaining experience. In the various game modes you will drive many different cars and as you progress in the single player mode you will receive more. Dirt 3 is not always about racing, some challenges are time trials and some are also the new Gymkhana mode where you try to score as many points as possible by doing car tricks like bashing objects and skidding in specific zones (this game mode very much reminds me of Tony Hawk games). The single player mode is also well voiced and you will face many challenges in rising to the top. The game’s visual style is nice, although you will need to turn down settings quite a bit if you have a low end computer. The audio track is also good, with a variety of songs from different bands. However, in spite of all the positives there are a couple of annoyances. The menu navigation is very annoying and the whole triangle interface is confusing and pointless to say the least. The game also needs Games for Windows Live, which in itself is very annoying and cumbersome to use. These two factors are annoying, but certainly do not break a great racing game.

90

Great Bundle

lachking | March 25, 2013 | Review of Civilization V: Gold Edition

Many people say that Civilization 4 is the pinnacle of the series, but in all honesty I prefer Civilization V. The most dramatic change in Civ V is the whole hex style interface, the enhanced graphics engine and the one unit per tile rule. The one unit per tile rule is a positive in my book since you need to be more strategic rather than just massing units like you can in Civ 4. I also like the fact that cities now have a health rating, meaning captures have to be more strategically planned with a balance of melee and ranged units. This collection also adds Gods and Kings which adds more maps, scenarios and leaders. Gods and Kings as the name suggests also places an emphasis on religion where you spend faith points on upgrades for your civilization. Finally, the pack also includes many DLCs which adds more scenarios and maps to the mix. You could potentially have a long running debate as to whether Civ 4 is better than Civ V, but for me personally, I think Civ V has made some great improvements to the franchise and this bundle has it all.

85

Great pack offering excellent value

lachking | March 25, 2013 | Review of The Basement Collection

The Basement Collection is a bundle of earlier works from Edmund McMillen and is a great package overall. Various interesting games are included and there is a bunch of unlockable material such as concept art, soundtracks and even more games. Many of the games also have level editors where you can create your own levels. Some games are better than others, and for me Meat Boy is clearly the best, but Grey Matter and Spewer are also quite good (Spewer is very weird though but still fun). The other included games are also pretty good though as well and none are particularly bad. The graphics are quite basic for many of the games, especially Time Fcuk, but still look pretty good. The music on the other hand is particularly outstanding, especially in Aether.

80

Great Pack

lachking | March 12, 2013 | Review of Tropico 4 Collectors Bundle DNS

At first glance, Tropico 4 looks a lot like Tropico 3: the graphics engine is very similar and many models are reused. However, Tropico 4 brings many good additions to the series to create a more enjoyable experience overall. For those new to the series, Tropico is a city builder like SimCity with added political elements in the mix. Different to Tropico 3, Tropico 4 adds more buildings and missions as well as a cooler soundtrack. Tropico 4 also adds more foreign factions such as China and you can now import resources rather than just export. The expansion Modern Times adds more buildings, missions and edicts, with the included DLCs also adding extra features such as costumes, scenery tiles and even more buildings. Although the premise can get repetitive, there is lots to do in Tropico 4. From the campaign, to the random map generator sandbox to user made challenges, you are sure to have lots of fun being El Presidente.

80

Great Game!

lachking | Feb. 22, 2013 | Review of Archon Classic

Archon Classic looks and feels like chess in many regards but has some very interesting concepts. Every time a piece lands on another the game takes you into a battle arena where you fight it out. The many different piece types bring many different strengths and weaknesses into play, and you need to be strategic in how you plan your advance. To make things even more strategic, the majority of the game board changes from dark to light to neutral over time, bringing battle advantages to either light or dark in particular battles. There is also a fairly large array of game options available, ranging from campaigns, leveling up pieces games, and hot seat games where you can play with a friend. The graphics engine is also quite nice plus you have the option of showing the retro graphics if you prefer the old look. The music is also quit catchy, especially the music that plays when battle engages.

70

Simplistic yet addictive

lachking | Feb. 20, 2013 | Review of Zombies.

At first glance, Zombies appears to be a generic 8-bit game, but there is more depth than meets the eye. The levels while not widely varied in locations, offer enjoyable maze like structures where you need to find the exit and survive the zombie onslaught. You start with a limited array of weapons, but you gather more as you progress, and the cut scenes are quite humorous. The game's soundtrack is also good: the heavy rock style suits the context well as it makes you just want to kill more zombies! There are also differing game modes such as endless and there are various boss fights with humorous names to be fought. The graphics are basic, but suit the context of the game well. All said, a pretty fun little zombie killer.

75

Interesting tower defence game

lachking | Feb. 15, 2013 | Review of Unstoppable Gorg

Unstoppable Gorg is a solid game with some interesting concepts. The most interesting concept is the whole orbital interface where you can rotate your towers around to move them to better placement in facing the changing enemy waves. The visual style is nice, with good textures and the ability to zoom in and out. The voice acting in the cinematics is a bit embarrassing, but it does set a humorous tone for the game. In spite of the interesting concepts, there are some pitfalls. The difficulty for starters is quite high, and you will likely need to replay levels a lot to succeed. Although you can unlock additional towers, there no real variety in the levels, nor is there a large variety in enemies. In this regard, the game can also get rather repetitive. Overall however, the game is still a solid experience with some differences over more traditional tower defence games.

75

Pretty Solid DLC

lachking | Feb. 14, 2013 | Review of Tropico 4: Megalopolis DNS

Megalopolis makes some solid additions to Tropico 4. The new Conventillo house in particular, is interesting as you have access to a relatively cheap and large high quality house early in the game, which can help raise your overall housing quality rating more quickly than say, tenements. You do have to provide maintenance every once in a while, as the quality declines, but it is still a good housing option. The new mission is also interesting, with many challenges and decisions thrown in your face as you need to provide housing, food and employment for a rapidly rising population.

70

Not bad!

lachking | Feb. 9, 2013 | Review of Bus Driver

On paper, the concept of Bus Driver seems laughable for a computer game. You drive buses; take people around, stop at bus stops and obey each and every road rule. In practice however, the concepts actually work pretty solidly for a computer game. There are a wide range of missions with different bus routes and it can be fun to get the highest score you can by driving as safely as possible. You lose points for instances such as breaking too quickly, failing to indicate when turning and running a red light. It must be said however, that the premise is quite limited and may get repetitive rather quickly as every mission involves merely taking passengers from A to B, then others from C to D.

In terms of presentation, the game is solid although not mind-blowing. The graphics engine looks solid with a good array of colour depth. There is not much music aside from the main menu, and it sounds decent. The game’s sound effects are rather lacking however and mainly involve just bus engine sounds and people screaming if you break too hard.

In all in, not a bad game as it is surprisingly fun for what seemingly sounds like a boring concept.

80

Good conversion of the board game

lachking | Jan. 31, 2013 | Review of Carcassonne

The PC version of Carcassonne is a good reproduction of the board game. Many annoying features of board games are streamlined, making it a more entertaining experience such as not having to keep score or pack up tile pieces. You also get 4 expansions in this game to add more variety, such as rivers. You can play online multiplayer, hotseat with friends or AI games. The game is still worth it even with just playing the computer as they provide a great challenge and will constantly try to cut you off. You need to think ahead and plan carefully to outwit your opponents.

My only criticism of this game is that there is not much help for newcomers. Explanations are very brief, and hardly describe much at all, for example the expansions are simply described as “expansion 1” etc without telling you what they actually add. For this reason, the game is obviously aimed at people who have played the board game, so if you are new, you may need to spend quite a bit of time reading online guides or perhaps buy the board game yourself.

The graphics while quite basic still look respectable for a board game. The music might also annoy some people but I found it to be quite catchy and there are numerous tracks available. All said, it is good to see that the board game has transitioned well to the computer without much incident.

70

Solid game but not without problems

lachking | Jan. 28, 2013 | Review of Battlestations Midway

Battlestations: Midway as a package is quite well put together. There is a campaign with various types of missions, there are numerous cut scenes and there are challenge mode missions. You command a variety of vehicles such as planes, ships and submarines and the controls are smooth and responsive. The graphics are solid although not particularly outstanding and the sound effects are also quite good as well. The main problem with the game however, is that the missions get difficult and repetitive rather quickly. You will often have to repeat certain segments, often the boring ones, to get to the challenging part of the mission, such as sailing out of a bay in a slow destroyer only to get annihilated upon entering the ocean. The objectives themselves are solid, but the actual mission designs let them down. However the game is still a solid experience nonetheless thanks to slick controls, good atmosphere and a variety of craft to pilot.

75

Interesting Tetris like game

lachking | Jan. 26, 2013 | Review of Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine

Robotnik’s bean machine is like Tetris in many ways but there are some differences. Instead of blocks you have blobs of beans and you have to match colours to get points. You can rotate beans around to make some interesting shapes other than just lines. Another difference from Tetris is that this game encourages competition. Two players play at a time, either person vs person or person vs AI and you try to get combos to drop un-linkable beans into your enemy’s pit to disrupt their scoring or to give them a stack to make them lose. The retro-style track adds to the atmosphere and all said, is quite catchy. All in all, Robotnik’s bean machine is a pretty good game that encourages competition between players.

75

Not as good as the other Sonic classics

lachking | Jan. 24, 2013 | Review of Sonic CD

Sonic CD is a good Sonic game at heart, but all said, I prefer the other Sonic classics, namely Sonic 1,2 and 3. This game has a few twists that differentiate it from the other classic Sonic games however. One interesting feature is time travel. Occasionally throughout levels you’ll find past or future posts which can take you through time. Although time travel can be interesting, all it really does is change the aesthetics of the game through altering the colours and music, but it is a nice touch.

The environments are solid supported by good level design, although some puzzles can get quite annoying. The level Wacky Workbench isn’t so good however, and in fact is quite annoying as you'll bounce around everywhere, making it hard to get to where you want to.

The Robotnik bosses are decent in Sonic CD but are nowhere near as good or inspired as those in the other sonic classics. In one instance, Robotnik shields himself with bubbles underwater, which seems very silly to say the least. The end game boss is also rather anti-climactic as it is just a regular Robotnik boss which dies in 4 or 5 hits rather than the traditional end game super boss.

The visual style in Sonic CD is solid and the music is also quite good. You can switch between the Japanese and US soundtrack to add more variety to the in-game music. There are also numerous unlockables to be found, such as being able to play as Tails.

At the end of the day, Sonic CD is not as good as the other classic Sonic games but that does not make Sonic CD bad by any means. Time travel is interesting, and most of the levels are good. The unlockables also add more fun to the mix.

85

Great addition to Civilization V

lachking | Dec. 31, 2012 | Review of Sid Meier's Civilization V: Gods & Kings (ANZ)

Gods and Kings is the first full expansion to the fifth instalment of the series and makes some great improvements. One of the largest improvements is the addition of religion. Like culture, you gather religion (faith) as a resource through different means which you can then spend. You can spend your faith to found a religion and to improve your religion. In addition to the espionage elements, Gods and Kings also adds new units, new civilizations and makes adjustments to city states. The AI has also been improved and will not randomly build cities behind your empire now. All said, Gods and Kings makes some great improvements to make Civilization V an even better game than it was before.

75

Pretty good economical game

lachking | Dec. 19, 2012 | Review of Patrician III DNS

Patrician 3 is an economical trading game with some very good concepts. There are various types of missions and scenarios with different objectives under varying conditions. You can also play a quick game where you can personalise the conditions, as well as on-line multiplayer. The level of depth in the game is quite immense, and as such, newcomers may initially struggle to grasp the many concepts in the game such as trading, moving ships between towns, and meeting citizens’ needs. Fortunately, there are numerous tutorials to explain the many concepts but even then, there is still much to learn. Some people may appreciate the depth, but others may be put off quickly. The graphics engine while not bad is definitely dated, and the music and sound effects are rather lacking. If you can push yourself to learn the concepts and acknowledge the dated graphics and sound, you may very well have an enjoyable and rewarding experience in the long-run.

80

Good political builder

lachking | Dec. 18, 2012 | Review of Tropico 3 DNS

Tropico 3 is an interesting and engaging city builder with the added element of being a political simulation. Like other building games such as SimCity, you will create structures, roads and the like. The political aspects add gameplay mechanics where you need to win elections and implement various policy types. The missions are fun and varied, with many different ways of losing other than merely going broke: you can lose by getting beaten in elections and you can also lose by being invaded by the US or USSR. The game also has a quirky sense of humour with many different jokes such as the descriptions of some buildings.

In terms of presentation, the game is quite good. The graphics engine looks great and runs quite well. The music is also really catchy and suits the context of the game well.

90

Great online experience

lachking | Dec. 5, 2012 | Review of Guild Wars 2: Digital Edition (NA) -

Guild Wars 2 is my first experience to online role playing games and quite simply, I was blown away. The level of customisation is immense as you create your own character and play the game how you want to. There is no explicit way to play: you may like to be a warrior and slash enemies, or perhaps prefer to be a caster. You may engage in the main quest, or could also choose to complete many different tasks helping various people, such as placing rabbits in a cage. You can also if you wish just choose to explore the gigantic world presented to you and observe the breathtaking scenery.

Being an online game, there is also a large emphasis on interacting with other players. For this reason, it is a good idea to play with friends and complete tasks cooperatively. The experience gain for completing tasks is given to both players, and this encourages teamwork, especially since many tasks involve defeating powerful beasts which can prove difficult if attacked alone.

The game’s presentation is superb. The colour scheme with the graphics engine looks top notch. This is made even better with great looking scenery such as waterfalls accompanied with strong ambience. The music is also great and makes you want to keep playing the game.

One last point about this game is that there are no subscription fees. This is a huge plus, meaning you only need to buy the game and not be forced to pay monthly fees, which is the reason I never got into World of Warcraft. In all essence, Guild Wars 2 is a great game. Superb gameplay, great atmosphere, and no monthly fees combine to create a top notch online experience that will keep you coming back for more.

80

Good RTS

lachking | Dec. 5, 2012 | Review of Warhammer 40000: Dawn of War II: Retribution THQ

This is my first entry into the Dawn of War series and it is a good stand-alone expansion. You can play as all six factions, both in single player and online, although many missions are repeated in the campaign by the different factions. The gameplay is good, with more emphasis on tactics and controlling resource points rather than building units at bases from many buildings. Although campaign missions are repeated amongst the factions, the progression system is good: you get experience points to give more abilities to your heroes and different abilities picked can create varying gameplay paths.

The multiplayer is also good. You can play traditional skirmish type games where you capture points and attempt to deplete the enemy's tickets to zero. The Last Stand game mode is also interesting where you use heroes to survive waves of enemies and unlock stronger war gear as you progress.

In terms of presentation, the game delivers. The sound and music is quite good, and the graphics engine is top-notch, although you may need to turn settings down depending on your computer. The removal of Games for Windows Live is also a big plus.

80

Fun Dota type game

lachking | Dec. 5, 2012 | Review of Awesomenauts

Awesomenauts is a fun little title that plays like a 2D Dota type game. You pick a hero and fight enemy creeps and heroes in an effort to destroy the other side’s main building. As you progress through the leader board, you unlock additional heroes to play. While the game does not have as much depth as Dota 2, it is still very fun to play and the moba style of game is implemented well in a 2D style with platforming. The graphics engine looks quite nice with a good array of colours and performs very well. The music and sound effects are also quite nice and suit the context of the game well.

85

Beautifully presented game

lachking | Dec. 5, 2012 | Review of Trine

Trine is a very good platform game with many elements coming together well. The story telling and voice acting sets the scene well and the levels are fun with various obstacles and puzzles. You can switch between 3 different characters at any time, which reminds me of The Lost Vikings game. The wizard’s levitation and create box spells add interesting elements to the puzzles, although the traditional swordsman doesn't do anything out of the ordinary. You will need to frequently switch between characters to solve the various puzzles throughout the levels. It is satisfying to kill skeletons and other enemies, although their respawning can sometimes get in the way of puzzle solving. Without a doubt however, the best element of the game is the atmosphere: the 2D look with 3D effects looks superb, and the charming music adds to the atmosphere created.

85

Great FPS

lachking | Dec. 5, 2012 | Review of BioShock® 2 DNS

A very good sequel. The game environment is the same as the previous title, taking place in Rapture Farms, an underwater city. However, you play a different character this time, a Big Daddy. The weapons are more interesting this time around, such as the rather cool drill you have from the start.You can also electrobolt enemies using your hand, a mechanic which reminds me of spells from the Elder Scrolls. Like the previous game, there are RPG elements: you pick up items, spend money, and search corpses for items. The graphical effects look high class, especially the water, with advanced lighting and reflection. The splash effects onto your heads up display also look particularly outstanding. The sound is also solid for the most part with good voice acting and weapon sound effects.

85

Beautifully presented platform game

lachking | Nov. 26, 2012 | Review of Trine

Trine is a great platform game with many elements coming together well. The story telling and voice acting sets the scene well and the levels are fun with various obstacles. You can switch between 3 different characters at any time, which reminds me of The Lost Vikings game. The wizard’s levitation and create box spells add interesting elements to the puzzles, although the traditional swordsman doesn't do anything out of the ordinary. You will need to frequently switch characters to solve the various puzzles throughout the levels. It is satisfying to kill skeletons, although their respawning can sometimes get in the way of puzzle solving. Without a doubt however, the best element of the game is the atmosphere: the 2D look with 3D effects looks superb, and the charming music adds to the atmosphere created.

85

Great FPS Game

lachking | Nov. 23, 2012 | Review of BioShock® 2 DNS

A great sequel. The game environment is the same as the previous title, taking place in Rapture Farms, an underwater city. However, you play a different character this time, a Big Daddy. The weapons are more interesting this time around, such as the rather cool drill you have from the start.You can also eletrobolt enemies using your hand, a mechanic which reminds me of spells from the Elder Scrolls. Like the previous game, there are RPG elements: you pick up items, spend money, and search corpses for items. The graphical effects look high class, especially the water, with advanced lighting and reflection. The splash effects onto your heads up display also look particularly outstanding. The sound is also solid for the most part with good voice acting and weapon sound effects.

80

Fun Game

lachking | Nov. 19, 2012 | Review of Awesomenauts

Awesomenauts is a fun little title that essentially plays like a 2D Dota game. You pick a hero and fight enemy creeps and heroes in an effort to destroy the other side’s main building. As you progress through the leader board, you unlock additional heroes to play. While the game does not have as much depth as say Dota 2, it is still very fun to play and the moba style of game is implemented well in a 2D style with platforming. The graphics engine looks quite nice with a good array of colours and performs very smoothly. The music and sound effects are also quite nice and suit the context of the game well.

80

Good Game

lachking | Nov. 15, 2012 | Review of Warhammer 40000: Dawn of War II: Retribution THQ

This is my first entry into the Dawn of War series and it is a good stand-alone expansion. You can play as all six factions, both in single player and online, although many missions are repeated in the campaign by the different factions. The gameplay is good, with more emphasis on tactics and controlling resource points rather than building units at bases from many buildings. Although campaign missions are repeated amongst the factions, the progression system is good: you get experience points to give more abilities to your heroes and different abilities picked can create varying gameplay paths. In terms of presentation, the game delivers. The sound and music is quite good, and the graphics engine is top-notch, although you may need to turn settings down depending on your computer. All in all, Retribution is a good game.

90

Superb

lachking | Nov. 13, 2012 | Review of Grand Theft Auto IV DNS

Firstly, I must say that this is my first time playing any GTA game after many years of hearing about the series but never actually having it. After buying this game, I discovered that it is a superb experience. Everything is lifelike: a vast world where people walk around and talk to each other with cars driving around. You really can do what you want: whether that be stealing heaps of cars, running over people, doing your objectives, or just having fun driving. As you progress, you build relationships with people and go on dates and outings. Aside from driving, there are also mini games such as bowling and watching shows. The missions themselves are fun, held together by an interesting plot.

In terms of effects the game also delivers. The sound effects are great: you hear people talking to each other, shouting and even swearing at you when you hit them. The music is also great, and you have the option to choose various radio stations, so you can select a track that suits your style. The graphics engine is also very good but at the same time, the system requirements are very high. I had to turn the graphics and resolution right down for playable frame rates on my laptop but the game still looked great with the occasional frame rate hitch.

All in all, GTA 4 is a superb experience.

65

Decent

lachking | Nov. 9, 2012 | Review of Death Rally

Death Rally is a decent racing game. You race from a bird’s eye view across different tracks and challenges with the added element of shooting and dropping mines. You get money between missions to spend on repairing your car or upgrades such as armour. The visual style of the game is quite nice, with good use of colours, although there is not a large variety is environments. The sound effects on the other hand however, are not particularly outstanding with bland sounding bullet sounds and the like.

Although the basic concept of Death Rally is good, there are problems. There is not a large variety of tracks, and you will often race on the same track a lot. The controls are also quite difficult and frustrating, so expect to crash into walls often. The gun mechanics also do not work that well, as it actually encourages you to stay behind and shoot everyone, which is rather contradictory to the objective in a racing game.

All in all, Death Rally has some good concepts, but repetition and frustration will set in quickly

75

Solid Game

lachking | Nov. 9, 2012 | Review of Men of War Cap

Men of War is an action RTS game and for the most part, is a solid experience. The objectives are vast and varied, such as defending a town with a single tank. You can also take direct control of soldiers- they even have inventories and you can pick up items from dead soldiers and this is a nice touch that is very rarely seen in RTS games. The graphics are solid and run fairly decently, with the in game sounds also being solid for the most part. The game does have some shortcomings. Firstly, it is very difficult. I had to reload the first mission multiple times even on easy. The cut scenes also feature voice acting which is downright embarrassing to watch.However, the game for the most part is still a solid experience.

70

Solid Card Game

lachking | Nov. 7, 2012 | Review of Jewel Quest Solitaire 3

The third game is a solid addition to the series but nothing is particularly new aside from the different version of the solitaire card game. The game revolves around another story, and various power ups and wild cards are brought into the mix, but the previous games also did this. The actual solitaire card game is much more tactical this time as you need to move all your cards to the foundational pile. This game has improved graphical elements, with nice looking backgrounds. The music is also very soothing, creating a calm atmosphere for the game. All said, Jewel Quest Solitaire 3 is a solid card game which offers many of the same elements that the series has offered to date in a different style of solitaire.

90

Great Game

lachking | Nov. 6, 2012 | Review of F.E.A.R -

FEAR is a great game that combines the FPS genre with horror elements. The game’s story is solid and the levels are interesting although not hugely varied as you mostly just travel through buildings and offices. The weapons are pretty standard and include guns such as shotguns and machine guns. An element less conventional is the interesting slow time ability which gives you the ability to run and jump around bullets and move in on enemies faster than they can react. Being a horror game as well, it is often scary to play, especially at night. The way Alma appears can be a big shock. One of the scariest encounters is when you are in the offices and she appears in the lift with another person and the door closes.

The game’s presentation is great for the most part. The visuals are slick and lifelike, with high quality shaders. The sound is also quite good with bullet sounds and the way the enemy soldiers communicate to each other once they spot you adds to the atmosphere.

Overall, the game is great. Top notch graphics, crisp sound and great gameplay combine to create an engaging experience. Just don’t play this game alone at night. I’m warning you.

55

Passable

lachking | Nov. 6, 2012 | Review of Alien Breed 2: Assault

Alien Breed 2: Assault is a top down shooter where you walk around, completing your objectives while killing aliens and picking up objects. The actual premise is solid, but the execution in many areas is lacking. The gameplay for starters gets repetitive rather quickly, as you frequently just walk from A to B, holding space bar down to interact with switches. The gun sounds are rather bland and the same can be said for the alien death sounds. The environments are also very dark, with little variety, although the actual graphics aren't too bad. You will also battle with the camera, as it sometimes switches to bizarre angles, obstructing your view to certain areas, such as the other side of a wall. There is also a load of on-screen text, so you know right off the bat which objects are interactive, and although some people may like this, I think it does take away discovery aspects of the game. Although the game’s overall shooter concept is solid, the execution of the essential elements of the game lets it down in the long run.

90

Charming Platform Game

lachking | Nov. 5, 2012 | Review of Paper Monsters

Paper Monsters is an interesting and visually stunning platform game. The gameplay is similar to Mario in that you travel and jump around in a 2D world collecting coins (buttons), jumping on enemies and finding the exit. You progress through a variety of locations such as grasslands and deserts and face interesting boss fights. You can use your collected buttons to purchase gear to change your appearance in the game and this adds an element of personalisation to the mix. The visual style is particularly good with vibrant colours and the 2D visuals shown in a 3D type of view looks spectacular. The accompanying music is also good, and adds to the charming atmosphere that the game creates. All in all, Paper Monsters is a great platforming game with varied levels set in a stunning atmosphere.

80

Great Pack

lachking | Nov. 5, 2012 | Review of Worms Reloaded: Game of the Year Edition

Worms Reloaded is a good game and a return to form for Team 17 after the 3D games that didn’t work out so well. This pack includes Worms Reloaded and its DLCs. Worms Reloaded goes back to the traditional 2D game where you use all sorts of wacky weapons to kill your enemies. The DLCs make the game even better through adding lots of customisation features, achievements and missions. The Retro pack, in particular adds some really interesting missions like those from Worms World Party that differ from the norm and have you complete objectives in wacky circumstances, such as using the weapon Armageddon to kill a worm standing next to you, forcing you to find cover. The puzzle pack is also particularly good as you have to use your brain and figure out how to complete objectives with only a small array of weapons available. Overall, good game made even better with some cool missions and large array of customisation options.

80

Good Jewel Swapping Game

lachking | Nov. 2, 2012 | Review of Jewel Quest II

Jewel Quest 2 is an improvement over the previous game. The jewel swapping mini-game from the last game is the full feature in this game. The levels are interesting and varied and come in different shapes and sizes. As you progress, you will also encounter different gems, such as buried gems that cannot be moved. There are also a good variety of backgrounds which add to the atmospheric appeal, such as a ship deck and African Safari. The graphics engine is quite good with cool looking effects when you create lines of gems. The audio effects are also quite good, with nice ambient effects and catchy music.

65

Decent Puzzle Game

lachking | Nov. 2, 2012 | Review of Jewel Quest Mysteries: Curse of the Emerald Tear

Curse of the Emerald Tear is a decent puzzle game. The story is not bad but the gameplay gets repetitive rather quickly as you generally just find items and engage in emerald mini games. The finding item game mode is interesting at first and encourages you to use your eyes closely rather than mass clicking as time is deducted for 3 wrong clicks in a row. However, it can get frustrating trying to find the last item. The main problem with this game mode is that you often play the same level multiple times, meaning that you’ll start to remember where particular items are. The music in the game is decent, but nothing outstanding and same can be said for the graphics.

75

Fun Economical Game

lachking | Nov. 1, 2012 | Review of Build-a-Lot

Build-a-lot is a game where you need to build structures to make money and to achieve objectives. Although it is a basic game, the mechanics are really good, and what the game does it does exceedingly well. The missions themselves are interesting and can be tackled in a variety of ways: you may like to upgrade existing houses, you may like to demolish them to make room for bigger houses, or you may to like sell them. You receive income at a regular basis and land and foreign houses often go on sale, adding more choices to the mix. The visual style is basic, but at the same time looks nice, and the music creates a cheerful atmosphere. Overall, this is a really interesting game. Although the mechanics are quite basic, all the elements come together well to create a fun game.

75

Solid Sequel

lachking | Nov. 1, 2012 | Review of Jewel Quest Solitaire 2

Jewel Quest Solitaire 2 is a solid improvement over the previous game. The graphics are more appealing and this version of solitaire is more engaging than the Tripeaks version used in the previous game. The music is also quite good, a step up from the ambient sounds in the previous game although some of the sound effects are recycled. Some more interesting elements are added to the mix such as a sign of 2 cards appearing on the side telling you that if you match the 2 particular cards you will get a bonus. Overall, a solid improvement over the previous game. The graphics are better and the game mechanics have been improved to create a more vibrant experience.

75

Interesting Strategy Game

lachking | Oct. 19, 2012 | Review of Dwarfs!?

Dwarfs is an interesting strategy game where the main objective is to score as many points as possible. You use your dwarfs to dig and gather gold and minerals and your warriors to kill creatures you may find. There are an array of game modes available such as arcade, skirmish and campaign. The campaign throws challenges at you such as surviving for a certain time limit.

One of the game’s most interesting aspects is that maps are dotted with black areas which can only be uncovered from digging into. You may find treasure, enemies, water, lava, or nothing. I like the idea that if you find water or lava you need to block if off to stop it from flowing towards you, or in the case of lava, blow a hole using dynamite. The graphical style is quite charming and runs very well. The soundtrack is also quite welcoming and suits the dwarf context well.

Despite the charming nature of the game, my biggest criticism is the fact that you often have to wait for dwarfs to dig, and that it can get boring waiting for dwarfs to uncover something. The dwarfs happily dig on their own, and you merely facilitate them rather than taking full control most of the time. That said, the general aspects of the game are quite good overall.

65

Decent First Person Shooter

lachking | Oct. 17, 2012 | Review of Painkiller Black Edition DNS

Painkiller is a decent first person shooter with a very simple premise: shoot, shoot and shoot. The play style is reminiscent of Doom to some degree. The game’s story is very cliché with the generic good vs evil and you the player need to kill the evil so that you can see your wife again. The game style is very basic as there are no keys, no real switches, or cut scenes in levels. You merely make your way through seemingly unconnected levels, killing every enemy in your sight. The visual style is solid but not particularly outstanding. When you face a horde of enemies, the game switches to rock style music which gets you into the killing monsters mood, but at the same time can feel out of place, especially if you're in a dark scary house in the middle of the night (one of the levels).

My main criticism of this game is that the overall gameplay mechanics are very basic and repetitive: level upon level of endless killing with the occasional boss level thrown in. While some people may like the endless shooting, for me, it represents a game with little depth.

If you like endless shooting, the game does provide no-nonsense fun, but for those who are looking for a deeper shooter with interesting characters, levels and plot points, look elsewhere.

90

Another fantastic addition to the series

lachking | Oct. 17, 2012 | Review of Sid Meier's Civilization® V

Civilization V adds some interesting new concepts to the classic franchise and is a fantastic game. For those unfamiliar with the premise, Civilization is a turn-based strategy game where you lead your civilization through the ages. You found cities, construct buildings and create units to interact with other players. Diplomacy is also a large aspect of Civilization, and you can trade with other players, build relationships with them or declare war.

I particularly enjoyed the additions to Civilization V. The introduction of city states adds a layer of depth to the game. You can develop alliances with them and this can result in them giving you free units, or you can fight with them. The interface is also much cleaner in Civilization V, with the exact level of happiness and culture produced clearly displayed. The graphical update is also strong, with terrain surfaces looking highly detailed and vibrant, especially the water which reflects the sunlight. The sound effects and music is also good, although I did prefer the Leonard Nimoy voiceovers in Civilization IV than the voice overs in Civilization V.

Some of the gameplay mechanic changes have drastically altered the tactical aspects of the game. Having only one unit on a tile encourages more tactical unit placement rather than just mass unit rushes. The capture mechanics of cities is also better with cities having a health rating. I also like the fact that cities can bombard nearby units, and this is especially useful in counteracting annoying barbarian attacks. Overall, Civilization is a fantastic game. The many gameplay changes improve the tactical side of the game, and the graphics and atmosphere are as good as the series has ever seen.

65

Decent turn-based strategy

lachking | Oct. 16, 2012 | Review of Age of Fear: The Undead King

Age of Fear is a decent turn based strategy game. There are a variety of options available such as campaign, quick battle and multiplayer. I like the idea in the campaign that you recruit units between levels using your available gold and that you then use these units in following missions. The gameplay mechanics are quite straightforward in the sense that you control a variety of units such as archers and swordsmen and move them to attack the enemies. However, the graphics are rather low detail and bland. The sound effects are also underwhelming: just footsteps, sword sounds and low quality voice responses that do not sound very crisp. The A.I is quite good, but the game is very repetitive, namely in the battles and the environments. Overall, Age of Fear is decent. The battles are solid but repetitive and the sound and graphics are quite underwhelming.

75

Fun Card Game

lachking | Oct. 16, 2012 | Review of Jewel Quest Solitaire 1

Jewel Quest Solitaire is a fun adventure card game. There is a good variety in levels and the jewel swapping mini game adds a layer of depth. The game has a gentle learning curve and the levels start off simple. You are also given clear instructions and hints at the beginning of the game and as a result, you learn the essential gameplay concepts of solitaire very quickly. The different locations make card suites look different and this adds a variety of visuals to the game. The background ambient noises create a nice vibe, especially in the second stage of levels. As you progress into the game, you get wild cards with varying abilities such as a x7 on the multiplier. It would have been nice to be able to play the jewel swapping mini game from the main menu any time but that’s only a minor complaint I have. I also occasionally experienced scenarios where the game would not respond to menu commands, forcing me to close the game and re-load it from the desktop, but again this is not a major issue.

Overall this is a solid game. Although the premise can get repetitive, there are a variety of card placements in levels and the different ambient sounds are welcoming. The wild cards also add a layer of depth to the levels and the jewel swapping games add a layer of excitement.

80

Fun sequel

lachking | Oct. 15, 2012 | Review of Tropico 4 DNS

Tropico 4 in essence, is Tropico 3 with a new coat of paint and for the most part, is a good improvement over the previous game. For those unfamiliar with Tropico, it is a city building game similar to Sim City with the added element of political simulation: you can implement policies and you need to win elections to remain in power. Tropico 4 brings a visual upgrade to the table. The HUD in particular has received an upgrade over Tropico 3. The interface looks much cleaner and objectives are much more readily displayed. The musical style is also better in this sequel. One particular addition I really like is that buildings can be quickly finished for an additional cost and this can be incredibly useful, especially when you need a particular building in a pinch. Tropico 4 also adds new buildings and attractions, such as cruise liners and ministries. The missions themselves are also more engaging then they were in Tropico 3. Overall, Tropico 4 is a strong sequel and makes some good improvements over the previous game.

80

Interesting Tactical Game

lachking | Oct. 12, 2012 | Review of Defcon: Everybody Dies DNS

Defcon is a strategy game that takes place on the world map and has interesting tactical elements. The objective is to kill as many civilians as possible through nuking enemy cities. You get fighters, bombers and naval units as well as tactical nukes to help you in world domination. There are a large array of game modes available such as office mode and large world mode, although the basic premise of the game doesn’t change much through the different game modes.

For the most part, the layer of strategic depth is quite good. You choose where to place your units and silos in your countries, and where you place them can dictate how well you will do. For example, do you place your nuke silos together to be able to pound a particular opponent more easily or do you place them all around your countries to have a broader defence? Decisions such as these give the game a strong level of strategical depth.

The visual and audio style is quite good as well. The soft scary style of music suits the premise of world domination by nukes well, and the graphics engine, while not outstanding looks quite solid, and performs extremely well too (even my netbook could run this game with no problems). Overall, Defcon is a solid game with various strategical elements coming together quite well.

95

Classic Platform Game

lachking | Oct. 6, 2012 | Review of Sonic 3 and Knuckles CAP

Sonic 3 and Knuckles is a vast improvement upon sonic 1 and 2. The levels are better and the cut scenes make transitions to zones clear- for example angel island to hydro city. The added effects are also great, such as fire effects in the background on angel island. The addition of Knuckles also adds a layer to the game: he plays the game from a different perspective from sonic and tails and thus plot points and some level designs are different. The mini- games are also great and varied such as collecting items from a gum ball machine. The stand -out feature for me in this game however, is the music, just like in previous Sonic games. There are so many great tracks in this game such as angel island, flying battery and sandropolis zones to name a few. All in all, you can’t go wrong with this game. The levels are great and varied with many obstacles, the boss fights are fun and the music is superb. For me, this is the pinnacle of the series and should not be missed by any platforming fan.

95

Superb Package

lachking | Oct. 6, 2012 | Review of Sid Meier's Civilization® IV Complete Cap

Civilization 4 is arguably the best civilization to date and the expansions make the game even better. If you are not familiar with Civilization, it is a turn based strategy game where you lead your civilization through the ages through founding cities, building units, gathering resources and interacting with other civilizations. Civilization 4 in particular, is often discussed as the pinnacle of the series. The level of depth is very large and the visual style still holds well today. The combat system is very good with each unit having a strength rating and the diplomacy screen offers well animated portraits of the various leaders. The expansions add more leaders, scenarios and wonders to the mix, as well as additional scenarios. The Beyond the Sword expansion also adds random events, which I found to add a large level of excitement to the game- such as a volcano eruption destroying all nearby improvements. Overall, this is a superb package. You’re arguably getting the best Civilization to date with the expansions that make the game even better.

85

Great game but very hard

lachking | Oct. 3, 2012 | Review of Super Meat Boy

Super Meat Boy is a platform game from Team Meat. The story revolves around you trying to rescue your girlfriend from an “evil fetus”. The levels are detailed and varied, with many obstacles in your way such as spinning saws and bottomless pits. One thing to be noted is that you will die ALOT. You may even die 50 times on some levels (I died about 100 times on the hospital boss level). It is interesting that your total death count is actually in the options menu. Although the game can often get frustrating, the levels are very short, so when you die, you will not have to constantly repeat huge segments. In terms of presentation, the game’s visual style is good, but the real treat is in the soundtrack, particularly the hospital chapter’s music. All in all, Super Meat Boy is a great game. Levels are challenging and varied, and a fun atmosphere is created. Just be sure that you don’t smash your keyboard out of frustration when you die for the 60th time on a level.

90

Superb puzzle game with interesting strategical elements

lachking | Sept. 27, 2012 | Review of World of Goo

World of Goo is a puzzle game with an interesting premise: you build a ladder with blobs of goo to get to the exit of each level. Interesting elements come into the mix . Physics plays a big part of the game: if you place too many blobs onto one part of the ladder it will collapse and you will have to start over. You also have to be economical as you will need to use blobs to create the ladder but have enough blobs to reach the exit so that you can finish the level. If you use too many blobs, you won’t meet your objective and will need to rethink your strategy. Often you will need to try levels multiple times to get through, but it usually remains fun and engaging. As you progress into the game, more elements are at your disposal such as balloons which make you ladder rise. You could nit-pick the game and say it gets a bit repetitive and that the colour scheme can get rather bland, but overall the game looks charming and plays well. All in all, World of Goo is a superb puzzle game which throws many interesting elements into the mix over a standard puzzle game.

85

Great FPS/RPG/ Stealth game

lachking | Sept. 27, 2012 | Review of Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Human Revolution is the prequel to Deus Ex, a game released back in 2000. Put simply, Human Revolution is a great game with many elements coming together well, although there are some pitfalls (will get to later). The game is very open end, and you can take on challenges the way you see fit, whether that be through brute force, sneaking a back way in through vents, cloaking your way through, or hacking a computer and making a robot fight for you. The voice acting for the most part is solid, and the plot is enthralling, with the added effect that what you do influences plot points. An effective dark atmosphere is created, although the gold and black colour scheme may not appear to all. However, as mentioned earlier, there are various pitfalls. The AI can be quite dumb at times, especially with regards to their alertness to your presence and their reactions. Also, the boss fights are unnecessary and do not belong and often rely on saving and loading until you eventually do enough damage to kill them. This concept does not fit well with a game where choice is one of the most prevalent aspects. Overall, however, Human Revolution is a great game which presents you with many choices and ways to tackle a problem. A link between various genres is done successfully and as a result, an enthralling package is produced, despite the shortcomings.

75

Series is Still Solid

lachking | July 14, 2012 | Review of Worms Reloaded

Worms Reloaded is another game in the long-running franchise from Team 17 and is at its heart, as solid as the series ever has been. It is good to see that Team 17 went back to the 2D type game, as the 3D versions didn’t play out too well. There are some subtle changes this time around, such as new weapons (like termites and magnets) graphical overhauls, and more personality (such as worms screaming when dynamite is placed next to them). The new magnet in particular is quite interesting as it can repel (or attract) weapons such as grenades. At its core, the game is still very much the same as previous 2D Worms games, and as such, retains the core aspects. Modes such as quick game, training and campaign still exist. One new interesting mode is Body Count where you try to get as many points as possible by killing enemy worms that constantly respawn. And of course, there is still multiplayer, where you can play other people across the world. The game however does have some drawbacks. For starters, the AI seems to be very inconsistent. Sometimes they are downright stupid and will miss an easy shot or shoot themselves with a bazooka by aiming down, and at other times they are able to throw a grenade across the whole map and have it hit you perfectly, resulting in the full 45 damage. In addition, the campaign for me, was disappointing. Many of the missions are a typical death-match style game where you simply kill the enemy worms like you normally would in other game modes. There are some puzzle-like missions, but not enough: I expected more cool puzzle-style missions like those from Worms World Party- for example, shooting mines out of a boat, or something new and innovative, rather than the generic kill all enemy worms with normal weapons. Overall however, the game is still solid. The mechanics still work well and the new weapons add some cool new ways to play the game. If you haven’t played worms before, this is a good place to start. If you're a worms veteran, the game offers more of the same, but the new layer on top may bring a good level of refreshment to your worms experience.

80

Interesting Political +City Management Sim

lachking | July 13, 2012 | Review of Tropico 3: Gold Edition DNS

Tropico 3+ its expansion is a solid game that brings some interesting elements to a city- builder. In tropico, you are the presidente of an island republic and it is up to you to provide the infrastructure for your citizens- such as roads, houses, shops and so forth. It is quite an interesting concept that you have to provide jobs for your citizens and that some jobs need education, such as high school, forcing you to make important decisions. Another interesting element in the mix is the political simulation: you can implement policies that will affect your citizens, such as free housing or privatisation. You have to please your citizens as there are elections, so if you make the majority of your citizens angry, you may be voted out. You also have to please the US and the USSR otherwise you risk a military invasion. In spite of the interesting concepts, there are pitfalls. The game can get very repetitive- many missions start off the same way: a tenant and a road to the dock with fairly similar objectives such as sell x amount of good by x date or be in power in a certain year. To be fair however, the expansion does provide a bit more variety, but overall it feels a bit repetitive in the mission design. It also does get repetitive to hear the same dialogue pieces 20+ times such as the opposition government giving the same criticism of me building a school or childhood museum every mission I play. Also, while not a huge issue, the default game speed is also quite slow, which will likely force many to play with high speed most of the time. Overall, however, I quite like this game. It adds some really interesting concepts to a sim-city type game and encourages you to make financial decisions as well as political decisions.

90

Superb RTS Experience

lachking | July 13, 2012 | Review of Company of Heroes THQ

Six years old but still has a large player base. Company of Heroes is a superb game that brings many innovative gameplay mechanics to the table that are rarely seen in any other RTSs, such as infantry cover. The game is focussed on fast tactical battles as resources are obtained through fighting over control points, rather than merely turtling at base (a mechanic also used in Relic’s Dawn of War). The game captures the WWII feel extremely well through both the unit design and maps. The dialogue and sound is also great: there is the occasional ounce of humour as well as vibrant effects such as footsteps and bullet sounds. Despite being a six year old game, the graphics still look great. Advanced lighting and shaders really capture the WWII feel, and the graphical effects released from explosions look impressive even by today’s standards. If I was to criticise the game, it can get a bit tedious as there is no large diversity in factions- it is always Allies vs Germans, and so it can get a bit repetitive. Also, the expansions did upset the balance a tad (even with just the vanilla Company of Heroes you may still verse those with the expansions). Multiplayer games can also be very long sometimes, even 45minutes+ due to the large amount of tickets (500) each player has in a standard online match, but then again, long games may appeal to some. Overall, superb game. If you like RTS, this is one of the best out there.