Reviews by pauljebe

67

Not for everyone

pauljebe | Sept. 4, 2011 | Review of Cryostasis

Cryostasis is almost in a genre of its own. It is part horror, part action, part puzzle game, and part cinematic. You are sent to explore the wreckage of a ship that is frozen in the ice. While exploring you encounter ghostly recreations of the events that led to the crew’s fate and are able to help them correct their mistakes. All the while you are running from one heat source to the next to keep from freezing, and dead seamen are hunting you.

Cryostasis manages to do several things very well. Unlike many horror games this one actually has heart pounding scary moments. It also creates a perfect sense of unbearable cold through its intricate visual elements and excellent sound effects. However, the very atmosphere that makes the cold palpable also makes the game visually repetitive and boring… there are only so many shades of grey and white. Also there are well document performance issues with this title that make it run sluggishly even on modern high end systems. Fortunately not much of the game is more about exploring than it is about action so the performance doesn’t hurt the experience as much as it could.

Above all this game is unique and gamers looking for something new will be delighted. However the average gamer will most likely find this one to be forgettable.

82

it was good then, it's good now too

pauljebe | Sept. 4, 2011 | Review of Sid Meier's Pirates! Capsule

Pirates is a modern day remake of a classic game. In many ways this is important to consider as games have changed a lot of the years and this title tries hard to please fans of the original. It’s basically a collection of mini-games each with their own controls and tactics.

The game is open ended, allowing you to gain fame and fortune by trading, searching for lost treasures, or sexing up the daughters of the nobility. Or you can win through warfare by winning naval battles, boarding and running off with ships full of loot, or bombarding towns and invading their warehouses. In the end this means you can focus on whatever makes you happiest and retire when you’re content.

You get to advance your pirate by buying better equipment, steal better ships, and gaining new skilled crewmen. No two games will be the same, so replay value is high. Much of the game is simple, but when you put it all together it’s a lot of fun. Pirates is a game that doesn’t take itself too seriously and manages to be great fun in the process.

91

Do not pass this up

pauljebe | Sept. 4, 2011 | Review of Just Cause 2

Just Cause 2 has some of the worst voice acting you are likely to find in a game. There… I got the only bad thing about this game out of the way. Now let’s focus on why you should buy this.

Just Cause 2 is huge and its sandbox style non-linear play gives you the ultimate gaming freedom. There are tons of vehicles, loads of different weapons, and a nearly infinite way to accomplish anything you set out to do. The grappling hook is great for movement, but is also the most outrageously fun weapon in the game. The action is tight and most importantly it is fun. Completionists will get 100+ hours of game play, but casual gamers will still get much more than their money’s worth from this game. It simply never stops being fun.

Buy with confidence.

69

Budget Price = Fair Deal

pauljebe | Sept. 4, 2011 | Review of Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days

This game is not as bad as you may have heard. Yes it has it's share of bugs and problems. First off, many people do not like the "shaky" camera that is meant to add a sense of cinematic style to the game. Some of the keyboard keys cannot be remapped. The campaign is relatively short, running only 4-5 hours. The online lobby system is terrible and no one is actually playing this game online meaning you only get value form SP and coop play.

Not painting a very nice picture so far, am I? Let me say that what K&L 2 does well it does very well, and that is to capture the look, fell, and intensity of a dark action film. This game is very violent, has a good plot, excellent voice acting, and a mostly ambient soundtrack that (if you actually pay attention to it) adds substantial depth to the adventure.

The people who paid full price for this game at release got ripped off. However, if you watch for a sale make sure you buy two copies and gift one to a friend. The coop cover based action is a fantastic way to kill an afternoon.

86

Underrated Game

pauljebe | Aug. 10, 2011 | Review of Alpha Protocol

Alpha Protocol is frequently overlooked by gamers and shunned by critics, which is a shame as this title is far better than it’s more formal reviews belie. You play the role of a secret agent who jets around the globe from safe house to safe house to uncover an insidious plot! I know that sounds cheesy, but the game is far better than my writing skills.

AP is an RPG/shooter hybrid with an emphasis on consequence of action. Throughout the game you will be presented with dialog scenes, and the choices you make during those conversations drastically alter the outcome of the story. Unlike conventional RPGs, AP’s conversation controls allow you to choose a style of response (aggressive, flirtatious, etc) rather than full dialog options. The conversations are timed and as such are almost as tense as the actions. There are no right or wrong answers but dealing with each NPC in certain ways will either win them over or turn them against you and will either open or close story options.

A single play through of AP offers around thirteen hours of action, and because of the diverse options presented to you many players play through multiple times. Some people love the dialog options and others loathe it. It has its bugs and some of the action can seem a bit clunky, but overall the experience is far greater than you’d expect. It’s like Mass Effect with spies instead of aliens, and if that sounds interesting to you then you will not be disappointed.

87

Don't think, just buy!

pauljebe | Aug. 10, 2011 | Review of Streets of Rage™ 2

All of the action that the original Streets of Rage brought to the table was perfected in this classic sequel. You still get the story driven side scrolling beat-em-up action, but with new playable characters and new moves to help you slam your way to victory. The game has held up well over time and still provides hours of action with plenty of replay. This edition allows you to save your game state, so playing on the go (or sneaking in a little action at work) is easy to do. Play with a friend or all alone, either way this game delivers bang for the buck!

81

Still awesome!

pauljebe | Aug. 10, 2011 | Review of Streets of Rage™

Streets of Rage was Sega’s answer to the Final Fight series on the Nintendo console. Many people originally saw it as a knock off but the title (indeed the series) proved to be a high quality beat-em-up with all the right elements. This game has aged well, as punching, throwing, and slamming your way through hordes of thugs is every bit as fun today as it was back in the day.

Streets of Rage 2 is also available and offers more of the same plus some new fighters and moves to use. The requirements for the game are slim so this title is perfect not only for older gamers looking for nostalgia but also for mobile gamers. Bring a friend, you won’t regret it.

69

Fun at first, but it tarnishes quickly

pauljebe | Aug. 10, 2011 | Review of Sonic the Hedgehog CAP

Sonic the Hedgehog was never as good as it should have been, and time has not improved it. The appeal of the Sonic games is that character is fast, and yet this original title is sorely lacking open areas that allow you build up speed for any length of time. On top of this the game is pretty difficult and obtaining all of the hidden crystals to reach the true ending of the game is even harder. Gaming has come a long way over the years and Sonic the Hedgehog is a brilliant example of how things used to be.

The nostalgia factor here is huge and should not be overlooked. Older gamers will grin uncontrollably the first few times they fire this up, but the glow will fade as replay value is simply not present. You can save your game in this edition which is a huge advantage, but players looking for more longevity for their dollar should look to the sequels for a better experience.

81

Still good after all this time

pauljebe | Aug. 10, 2011 | Review of Sonic The Hedgehog 2 CAP

With this, the second title for Sega’s mascot during the 16bit console wars, they figured out that if Sonic’s advantage over Mario was that he was fast they should actually let you go fast. While the first game had very few open stretches Sonic the Hedgehog 2’s levels are filled with long open looping expanses that are still fun to sprint through today. Reaching the end of the game is obtainable, but finding all of the hidden gems to get the true ending of the game will keep completionists very busy.

This is classic platforming at its best, and the added ability to save your game state means you no longer have to beat the game in a single sitting. Older players looking to revisit the past or new gamers looking for light weight action will both be pleased.

81

A Golden Classic

pauljebe | Aug. 10, 2011 | Review of Golden Axe

Of all the Sega classic games available Golden Axe has probably weathered the test of time the best. Originally an arcade title Sega brought this game to their Genesis / Mega Drive console to showcase the power of their system. The concept is a good one; a traditional beat-em-up in a fantasy setting complete with local coop play. It’s relatively short, but since the story is kind of generic you won’t be playing it to advance the plot and thus replay value is very high.

This newest revisit to Golden Axe also allows you to save your game state, meaning you can stop to eat dinner and still pick up where you left off later. It plays well on netbooks, so on the go gamers and players looking for nostalgia will be delighted.

68

Classic, but good?

pauljebe | Aug. 10, 2011 | Review of ESWAT: City Under Siege

Another example of an arcade game brought to the home market during the 16bit console wars to help Sega showcase the abilities of their platform. The concept is solid as you play a policeman who fights bad guys with the use of robotic armor. It’s linear (as were all games from this time period), relatively short, and almost frustratingly difficult at times but older gamers wishing to revisit their past will probably enjoy what it brings to the table.

The Mega Drive Classics interface offers a nice advantage in that it allows you to save your current game state, a feature not present in the original title. This is great for gaming on the go and laptop users looking for some nostalgia will really enjoy this. New gamer should probably pass.

50

Pass!

pauljebe | Aug. 10, 2011 | Review of Altered Beast

This was originally an arcade game that was incredible looking in its day. When the 16 bit console wars started Sega used this title to showcase how they could bring arcade quality graphics into the home. At the time that was enough, but almost two decades later this game’s simplicity is almost laughable. This new implementation offers one huge advantage that neither the arcade nor console versions could: the ability to save your game state so you can finish later. Aside from this feature there is almost nothing compelling about Altered Beast other than nostalgia.

64

Meh...

pauljebe | Aug. 10, 2011 | Review of Alien Breed 2: Assault

Alien Breed 2: Assault is a top down arcade shooter that makes no attempt to push the envelope of the genre. In it the player must make their way through an alien infested ghost ship savaging supplies and earning money for weapon upgrades as they struggle to find the next save point. Each level presents the player with a series of objectives that send the player on a crisscross pattern around the map, meaning you’ll pass through parts of a level many times. Combine this concept with the drab and unchanging ship interior and the result is a boring a repetitious romp that you’ll be eager to end.

The controls are occasionally unresponsive and in several boss battles the camera suddenly becomes static which changes the way you control your player. Frustration ensues. Fortunately Alien Breed 2: Assault has a low price point, multiple game modes, and interesting comic book style cut-scenes. Other similar but superior games (I won’t mention any names) are available for free, but if you’re dead set on buying this set your expectations low and you’ll have a good time blasting aliens. Expect ~8 hours of potential game play.

74

An old friend returns

pauljebe | Aug. 10, 2011 | Review of Worms Reloaded

Finally the Worms series is revisited! If you are new to the series Worms is a turn based game where armies of slimy combatants fight to eliminate the opposing teams from the map while shouting high pitched clever insults. The Worms games have been around for more than a decade and have changed substantially over the years. This latest entry is a return to the original 2D perspective but with modern additions.

Worms reloaded includes a ton of play modes, loads of unlockables, and a veritable smorgasbord of classic Worms weapons. The campaign mode will be fantastic for new players, but the multiplayer is where Worms games have always shined. Unfortunately the server browser is terrible, and online games take eons to actually complete, but if you’re willing to put up with the issues some legendary battles await you.

Long time fans of the series will probably enjoy it more than new comers, but for the price anyone interested should buy with confidence. Take cover!

65

So much potential

pauljebe | Aug. 10, 2011 | Review of Aliens vs Predator Pre

Both the Alien and Predator franchises are rich with potential and have managed to produce incredibly satisfying movies, comics and games. This game is just simply not on par with the rest of the AvP universe.

The original AvP game released in 2000 was well respected and had a large following. The campaigns it offered were on par with the rest of the gaming industry at the time, but the multiplayer was its brightest point. It offered three way battles instead of the industry standard two team concept, cloaked players that brought stealth into the mix, and allowed you fight in all three dimensions thanks to the Alien’s wall crawling.

The new (2010) AvP offers almost nothing new even though gaming has changed drastically in the past decade. Again there are three campaigns; marine, predator, alien. Each campaign is relatively short but together they offer good amount of content. However they seem incredibly dated. Providing no ability to crouch or to climb over obstacles as human or predator players is simply not acceptable in today’s games. A new standard of immersion has been set and the decision to leave abilities like this out of the game is baffling.

Graphically AvP impresses, but that’s possibly the only area in which the game delivers on its potential. Multiplayer is a great concept but finding a server and staying connected to it is a chore. If you manage to keep your connection you will inevitably be faced with poor level design and unbalanced classes that will leave you disappointed.

Simply put there are substantially better single player and multiplayer games on the market. Only hardcore AvP fans need apply. How you could take something as awesome as Aliens fighting Predators and deliver something as tame as this game is a mystery.

63

Too shallow

pauljebe | Aug. 9, 2011 | Review of Zombie Driver

Zombie Driver is a very simple game with a very low price. In it you drive cars through hordes of zombies to rescue survivors and earn money and points. The money is used to upgrade to better cars and weapons as you advance through the façade of a storyline. The bird’s eye view allows you to witness all of the carnage but makes anticipating turns in some of the faster vehicles fairly difficult.

It lacks multiplayer but does have several different game modes to help extend its replay value. Essentially it’s mindless fun that gets repetitive sooner than you’d hope. I nice netbook game for quick on-the-go gaming.

79

Cyber Punk Fantastic

pauljebe | Aug. 9, 2011 | Review of Deus Ex: Invisible War Capsule

Deus Ex : Invisible War tends to get a bad reputation for not living up to its predecessor, but the reality is that it’s still a very noteworthy game. Many of the things that made the original Deus Ex great are still present including RPG style skills and mission running. The story line in DE:IW is arguably more impressive if not more linear, but still gives the player a fun and worthwhile experience.

Graphically DE:IW is dated but still has many of the effects that are standard in modern games like lighting effects. The action is fast paced and fun, and the story is immersive and dynamic meaning replay value is present. If you’re looking for back story for the new Deus Ex game buy this without hesitation… you’re bound to get more than you expected.

92

Still a contender

pauljebe | Aug. 9, 2011 | Review of Deus Ex: Game of the Year Edition DNS

It’s amazing how relevant Deus Ex is a decade after its initial release. This game is essentially the birth of RPG style elements in a FPS. While the game is now graphically dated, the rest of the experience is still a text book example of how a dynamic story can be more powerful than a static one. Linear gaming has its place but if you have never played Deus Ex you owe it to yourself to buy it so that you can experience the advent of choice and consequence video gaming.

85

Fantastic Intro to Indie Gaming

pauljebe | Aug. 9, 2011 | Review of Trine

Many players are restricted by a budget and often they save their money for the AAA blockbuster titles that they see advertised all over the place. They’ve probably stumbled across smaller, less expensive indie titles and assumed that the “bang for the buck” simply wasn’t there. Trine is a magnificent introduction to PC gaming’s best kept secret: indie games are awesome.

The concept of Trine is simple; it’s a physics based side-scroller. In Trine the player controls three different characters (one at a time) each with their own unique skills to overcome puzzles and enemies alike. The story progresses slowly to allow time to master each of the characters skills before needing to chain those skills together in unique and interesting ways so both rookie and veteran players will find challenge and enjoyment.

The controls are seamless, the graphics are beautiful, and level design is genius. Almost every aspect of Trine shines with the exception of its multiplayer which is local only. The lack of internet based coop seems like an oversight, but the rest of the experience is so memorable that you’ll easily forgive its absence.

If you’re on the fence about trying Trine I say buy without fear. You’ll quickly see how budget price does not equal budget experience. Trine is the sort of game that you’ll be unable to walk away from.

80

Tower defense fans rejoice

pauljebe | Aug. 9, 2011 | Review of Sanctum

What do you get when you cross tower defense with fps? Pure awesome.

Sanctum takes a unique approach to the classic tower defense genre by putting the player right into the action, but building and upgrading your defenses from a first person perspective is just the beginning. Add to that three unique and upgradable player held weapons that you use to help fend off the incoming hordes of baddies and coop play so that your friends can help you. It’s almost too good to be true.

The only down side is that there are only four playable levels, so things get stale relatively quickly. However the price point is low, the quality is high, and ongoing development brings the promise of new additions to the game. If you’re a tower defense or fps fan you really owe it to yourself to try this.