Reviews by phool


Oodles of Content

phool | Oct. 20, 2013 | Review of Borderlands 2 Game of the Year Edition - PC

The core game you know and loved, packaged with all the of DLC released to date, what’s not to love?! The GOTY edition is a perfect package to those who not yet got their hands on the main game. Boderlands 2 builds on the original concept with a host of improvements over the original while still retaining all the elements that made the first so good. The sheer volume of content in the game almost borders on the ridiculous. Throw in all the DLC and this is a game you can take to a deserted island and keep yourself occupied for some time to come. The environments of Pandora are diverse and vibrantly rendered in the captivating artistic style of the original and certainly makes Boderlands 2 stand out from the host of brown war shooters flooding the PFS genre of late. All be told, this is the definitive purchase for anyone who is interested in delving into the Boderlands universe but have not yet bought any of the previous games or DLC.


What DLC should be

phool | Oct. 20, 2013 | Review of Commandos Beyond the Call of Duty - PC

Released at a time when DLC (then referred to as expansion packs) provided actual content which had substance rather than skins or additional weapons that should have been in the original game, Beyond The Call of Duty provides avid Commandos fans with eight additional levels pitched at the same headache inducing difficulty of the first game. The game uses the same engine as the first, so expect more beautifully rendered environments which were a real marvel to look at the time of the games release. Your core team of veterans are back with a few new tricks up their sleeves to help you sneak past enemies. Overall, Beyond the Call of Duty reinforces the strengths of the original commandos series, and while it doesn’t deviate too much from the original mechanics of the first, the sheer challenge and sense of accomplishment of completing a level keeps you coming back for more.


Definitive GTA Game

phool | Sept. 26, 2013 | Review of Grand Theft Auto Vice City Steam - PC

Personally I consider this game the pinnacle of the GTA series to date (pending the release of GTA V on the PC). Taking the GTA universe back in time to the 80s, the games soundtrack shines as you cruise down the streets of Vice City leaving a trail of mayhem and destruction in your wake. Vice City has all the trademarks of a 3D GTA game: a large, expansive open world to explore to your hearts content, numerous vehicles to commandeer to traverse the world and a large array of weapons to unleash havoc on unsuspecting citizens. The actual story is quite engaging and possibly the best of the series and takes you on a roller coaster ride as you set out to establish your criminal empire. The trademark Rockstar humour is present in abundance and the player is rewarded with all manner of easter eggs and minute details when exploring every nook and cranny of the game world. All in all, Vice City comes highly recommended as a modern classic.


Thank You Kindly For Reading This Review

phool | Sept. 12, 2013 | Review of BioShock Overflow 1 - PC

The immediate draw of Bioshock is the beautifully realized period underwater setting of the game, which has been rendered in such detail that the first time you see it, it takes your breath away. After sucking you in with the gorgeous environment, Bioshock ups the ante with a gripping story that cleverly unfolds with perfect pacing that you are always left with the need to play for just that little bit longer. In addition to this is the excellent gameplay, and unique use of ‘plasmids’ to provide you with new abilities. The character animations are also fantastic, with the expressions of the Little Sister’s quite unsettling if you choose to harvest them. A minor gripe is the hacking sequences, which become quite mundane and tedious rather early on in the game. However this is a minor gripe in the context of the rest of the game. Overall this is an essential gaming experience, and games highly recommended!


Classic Gaming

phool | Sept. 12, 2013 | Review of Worms - PC

The definitive classic turn-based game that started a legacy. I have many fond memories of playing this on friends who were fortunate to enough to own a computer at a time when this was released. Unfortunately the game has not stood the test time in terms of graphics and sound effects, both of which are rather rudimentary by today's standards. However, the nostalgia factor is high and the gameplay is still as fun as it was back then. The satisfaction of nailing a tricky long-range shot still feels as good as it did way back then. However, if you are new to the series I would recommend giving this version a skip and head straight to Worms Armageddon. For those Worms addicts looking to relive those vintage years, definitely pick this one up as a memento of simpler times and an ode to a classic.


More of The Same

phool | Sept. 12, 2013 | Review of Tomb Raider II - PC

Building on the success of the original, Tomb Raider II adds some additional features to the general gameplay, including more weapons and new moves. The sequel introduces many more human enemies when compared to the original game, which sometimes feels odd when you think about it too deeply (is Lara an archaeologist or a mass murderer?). The puzzle-solving and jumping from the first game are all back from the original, only bigger and better. The range of environments is also wider, when compared to the first game and includes tombs, a Tibetan monastery, an opera houses and the canals of Venice. The graphics were tweaked slightly from the original and have therefore dated somewhat (hmmm pixels). The game itself is not necessarily better than the first, it is however a solid game and certainly remains a classic for most Tomb Raider fans.


Faithful Remake

phool | Sept. 11, 2013 | Review of Tomb Raider Anniversary Steam - PC

Tomb Raider: Anniversary (TRA) is faithful remake and superb update to the original classic. TRA brings the magic of the original game to a new generation with beautifully rendered environments as well as the Lara character model as well. Each of the levels have been recreated to a standard associated with modern games yet remain faithful to the original. While the levels stay true to the original game, they have been updated to take advantage of Lara’s new skill set, such as the grappling hook, introduced in the game. Unfortunately there are few things that let the game down a bit. Some annoying modern gameplay mechanics have been introduced, such as the need for button mashing if you need to grab hold of a ledge. Also some of the larger “boss” fights require you to do arbitrary things, which are never introduced at any point in the game, before you can inflict damage. The player is left to guess what is required (or to consult a walk through) in order to progress further. However, all of these are minor annoyances in comparison to everything the games does right.


Must Play for RTS Fans

phool | Sept. 11, 2013 | Review of Company of Heroes (2) - PC

Simply put, Company of Heroes is the greatest World War 2 strategy game since Commandos 2. Taking the game mechanics from the Dawn of War series, COH adapts and refines them brilliantly. Instead of the usual resource gathering mechanics you need to control different territories of the map which provide you with the resources you need. The more control of the map you have, the more resources you receive. It is through this unique approach that the real strategy of the game shines, as you never know which point the enemy intends to take away from you to get the resources they need. The sublime strategy elements are complemented with the jaw-dropping graphics, which rank among the best in terms of RTS games and still hold their own today. The campaign is challenging and lengthy and will engage you for some time. Overall this game is highly recommended!


More of the Same

phool | Sept. 11, 2013 | Review of Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 - PC

Another one off the production line of the biggest gaming franchises to date. Following the same formula as the first Modern Warfare game, MW2 ups the ante ever so slightly with the addition of snow! The games is pretty much indistinguishable from the first one and uses most of the same assets throughout and follows the same formula with the tiniest amounts of spit and polish to repackage it as a new game. That being said, it is a big budget release so expect great graphics, good voice-acting and excellent sound effects. That being said, the game is fast-paced and quite enjoyable for what it is. The campaign won’t keep you occupied for too long, as you can speed through the missions with relative ease. Just keep moving forward and blast everything in sight. If you hang around too long in the same spot you’ll just have to fend off wave after wave of enemies. It is a fun game but pretty is pretty limited. If you take it for what it is, you should have a decent time with it.


Solid Sequel to the Great Original

phool | Sept. 11, 2013 | Review of Tom Clancys Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 - PC

The original game was a LAN favourite with my group of friends when it came out, and this sequel usurped the original GRAW as the go to game for LANs. GRAW 2 retains the general gameplay and feel of the original, albeit in a more polished way sticking very much to the adage of ‘if it aint broke, don’t fix it!’. General gameplay and usability improvements are abound, particularly when needing to change weapons. The single campaign is a solid affair and should keep you occupied for a few hours. However it really is the multi-player aspect that should keep you entertained for some time, especially when played with a group of friends. What is especially enjoyable is the tactical nous required is refreshing change of pace to the multiplayer arena shooters of yore, particularly with the co-operative missions. While not as ground-breaking as the original, GRAW 2 does enough right to justify it's existence and is a treat to play with your mates.


The Grand-Daddy of Competitive Shooters

phool | Sept. 11, 2013 | Review of Quake III Pack - PC

Quake III was my first foray into multi-player gaming and is considered as one of the best. For good reason too, as the fast paced shooter has some of the most well-balanced and tight gameplay when it comes to arena shooters and is, possibly, only rivalled by Unreal Tournament. In addition to the satisfying gunplay, the game boasted some of the best graphics for its time that it was such a shame most competitive gamers tended to use configs that turned down all the settings in favour of smoother frames. While there is no single player campaign of substance, pitting yourself against some of the best Bot AI is a challenge in itself and can be very satisfactory when defeating them on the higher difficulty settings. Obviously for this sort of game, it’s really the multi-player where the game shines, and even more so when play against a group of your friends in a LAN environment.


Start of a Dynasty

phool | Sept. 11, 2013 | Review of Tomb Raider I - PC

The original Tomb Raider will live in the hearts of many as one of the best games of all time. At the time of its release , Tomb Raider was ahead of the curve in many respects. Sublime graphics were the order of the day, and they looked even better when patched to take advantage of 3D acceleration! Having a heroine as the lead character was also a novelty at the time and Lara Croft has developed into one of the most recognisable gaming characters of all time. The third person gameplay which was reliant on puzzle-solving and traversing expansive environments was fairly unique. Part of the action was the thrill of narrowly avoiding booby-traps and death-defying leaps to reach your goal, however the real adrenaline pumping moments involved unsuspected attacks from animals of all shapes and sizes, including of course the famous T-Rex encounter. The soundtrack was sparse but somehow the game managed to pull-off having long segments without any music and those sections that did have music made the soundtrack even more memorable. Overall this is a highly recommended classic, and while it has become rather dated, I’d recommend anyone who hasn’t played this classic to do so and enjoy a piece of gaming history.


One of the Best Sequels of All Time

phool | Sept. 11, 2013 | Review of Commandos 2 Men of Courage - PC

Taking the same gameplay mechanics from the first game, Pyro Studios have fine-tuned, tweaked and refined them to perfection for this follow up to Commandos. Taking the same core group of elite soldiers (i.e. commandos) that was present in the first game - with a few new tricks to boot - and a sprinkling of new characters, you must make your way through missions deep within enemy territory to put a stop to the axis forces. While not as difficult as the previous game, the difficulty reaches that fine balance of being challenging enough to be rewarding when you complete a mission while not being overly difficult that it becomes frustrating. Commandos 2 is a shining example of what all sequels should aim to achieve in improving on the original game. While it retains all of the aspects that made the first game fun and enjoyable, Commandos 2 polishes them even more and adds a plethora of new content and gameplay (including the ability to enter and exit buildings). Coupled with the gorgeously rendered environments, and unique personalities of each member of your squad, makes this one of the best sequels for any game ever.


A Possible Over-looked Classic

phool | Sept. 10, 2013 | Review of Commandos Behind Enemy Lines - PC

On it’s release, Commandos was way ahead of it’s time in terms of strategy games. Set in the throes of World War 2, you command an elite team of commandos, each with a very particular set of skills, through twenty missions to defeat the Nazis. Beautiful graphics that, while a little dated, are still captivating and capture the feeling of whatever country the mission is set in. The difficulty level is uncompromising and will punish you if you make a tiny mistake - a throw-back to a previous generation (no regenerating health here folks). Simply put, it is a highly recommended game for those that have the patience and temperament to take a beating regularly and can look past it's age.


Unforgivingly Fun

phool | Sept. 10, 2013 | Review of Super Meat Boy - PC

In the mould of games of the past, Super Meat Boy tests your reflexes and muscle memory over a series of uncompromising and deviously-designed levels . Make one mistake and back to the start you go. This may sound tedious, but the tight controls and amazing soundtrack compel you to try just one more time. The sense of accomplishment once you have finally conquered that level you have been stuck on is unparalleled. The volume of content in this game is quite remarkable and the addition of user-generated content (in the guise of Super Meat World) means there are almost limit-less amounts of levels to race your way through to your heart’s content. Overall a fantastic game which will have you itching to have just one more go…


Rekindling the Lara Croft Legacy

phool | Sept. 10, 2013 | Review of Tomb Raider overflow 4 - PC

Another year, another reboot of the Tomb Raider franchise. However this time the game has been given a new lease on life and feels fresh. Gorgeous graphics and brutal gameplay are the name of the game. The environments are beautifully rendered and while some of the assets are re-used a little too much, you still get drawn into the superbly crafted landscape. Some new game mechanics have been thrown into the mix, and the rpg-esque levelling up and upgrading of gear, are a welcome introduction to the series, while still retaining the feel of the earlier games. The fighting/gun-play is excellent and manoeuvring Lara around the extreme terrain is a breeze. There are some annoying things though. The frequent breaks into mini-cut scenes ruin the flow and pace of the action. Coupled with the boring quick-time event sequences, you get pulled away from the immersive environment and engaging story to mash a couple buttons until you die and are forced to reload the same sequence. This continues until you master the arbitrary button-mashing sequences and get back into the real action. Whoever thought quicktime events are fun should be shot. Seriously. All in all, this is an excellent reboot of a well-established franchise. A satisfying single-player experience which I do hope will get (yet another!) sequel.


Flawed Single-Player Masterpiece

phool | Sept. 10, 2013 | Review of Max Payne 3 Steam - PC

While not perfect and inferior to it's predecessors (admittedly a high-bar to beat), Max Payne 3 still delivers a fantastic single-player experience with some of the best third-person gun-play in PC history. The gorgeous graphics are a treat to blast your way through and Rockstar have certainly put lots of effort in making sure each location is unique, which keeps the single-player experience fresh throughout. In terms of cons, the most significant is the multitude of cut-scenes (many unskippable and therefore killing the replay value) tend to interrupt the visceral action. The story tries so hard to be serious but falls flat and is quite weak in terms of substance. This seems out of place when compared to the tongue-in-cheek nature of the previous games. That being-said, this is still an excellent single-player experience and certainly worthy of your time.


The Alpha and Omega for the Worms Franchise

phool | Sept. 10, 2013 | Review of Worms Armageddon - PC

Simply put this is the quintessential worms game, taking the familiar mechanic of it predecessors and polishing it to perfection. If you only own one worms game, make sure this is the one. I have lost days of my life huddling around a 15" CRT monitor with a few friends and laughing uncontrollably as we cause complete and utter devastation eradicating our teams of legless friends and piloting our super sheep. Why are you still reading this? Just go on and buy the game already.