Reviews by steamisbetter
For lethal players onlysteamisbetter | Oct. 18, 2011 | Review of Deus Ex Human Revolution: Tactical Enhancement Pack
The usefulness of this pack really depends on your chosen play style. As you can probably tell, both of these weapons are lethal, which makes them useless inventory clutter for non-lethal players.
The shotgun is a fairly good starting weapon, but doesn't have much potential. Later on you'll want to use a heavily upgraded normal shotgun instead. The sniper rifle is silenced unlike the normal sniper rifle, but you have to go for headshots to make up for its lower damage. You may run into problems when you start encountering heavily armored enemies.
10,000 credits means you can go get your 2 Praxis points as soon as you leave the building. This makes very early game easier, but as the game progresses money becomes less of an issue, so you don't get much benefit after you're done with Detroit.
Many good missions and many bad ones toosteamisbetter | July 7, 2011 | Review of Men of War [Playfire]
Men of War is a World War 2 tactics game. I'd describe it as a light version of Company of Heroes mixed with Hidden & Dangerous. There's no base building or resources, some missions let you call in reinforcements but that's it. All units have their own inventory and you can take direct control of them, a feature which is quite important as AI-controlled units has very limited field of view and tend to waste a lot of ammo.
Difficulty is quite high and it takes some time to get used to. The cover system is a bit overeager, makes it hard to navigate through narrow passages without the unit trying to "take cover" on either wall. The difficulty system is weird, playing on easy disables the ability to use air strikes for some reason, which actually makes the game harder than on normal difficulty. Your units usually have very little ammo, if they run out they will just sit there doing nothing and you don't get a notification about it.
Missions fall roughly into 3 categories: 1. Large-scale offensive or defensive missions where you fight alongside with allied NPC units. These are quite plentiful and by far my favorite missions. They are usually designed so that you can just barely accomplish your objective, which makes them quite intense. The engine has some trouble handling all the units though, my frame rate frequently dropped below 20 regardless of graphics settings. 2. Small-scale missions with little or no allied NPCs. You're usually given a handful of units and tasked to defeat a numerically superior enemy force. An example would be the very first mission of the game, in which you're given a single tank and told to capture a village and then take out an entire convoy. I didn't like these a whole lot, expect a lot of saving and reloading to keep your invaluable vehicles alive. 3. Stealth missions. I hated these. Again, lots of saving and reloading involved thanks to enemies who can magically spot your units through 2 sets of walls. Loading a save seems to reset the AI sometimes and cause it to do something completely different than previously.
It's hard to recommend an older game like this when there are 2 standalone expansions out and the new Men of War: Vietnam in the works. Skip it unless it's very cheap, and get Assault Squad instead.
Disappointingsteamisbetter | July 3, 2011 | Review of Mount & Blade: With Fire and Sword DNS
With Fire and Sword is Mount & Blade with guns.
Guns replace crossbows and are in many ways similar. They do more damage than bows, take forever to reload and don't lose accuracy when in aim mode. All guns in the game fall into two categories: muskets and pistols. Pistols are less accurate and do less damage, but are faster to reload and, if on foot, don't require you to stand still during the reload animation. The other less obvious difference is that pistols are single-handed weapons, and while there's sadly no dual-wielding in this game, it means that the "blind spot" for horseback shooting is on your left side, as opposed to two-handed ranged weapons where the blind spot is to your right. Also, you can use your gun as a last resort melee weapon, but at that point you're probably dead already.
Old throwing weapons have been replaced with hand grenades. This is a good change, as grenades are very fun to use and throwing weapons in previous game were subpar to say the least. Grenades do splash damage and have a knockback effect. They are however very expensive and only come in limited quantities, so you can't really play as a grenadier and simply spam grenades.
Other equipment is still there, but they are now less useful and commonplace. Bullets simply do much more damage and travel very fast. Horses tend to go down very quick under gunfire. Getting within melee range is quite tough, especially against pistol users. Bows are a rare sight in multiplayer, the only advantage of bows is their faster rate of fire, but you can always carry multiple guns and simply switch between shots, then hide and reload. Shields are virtually useless.
Ability to kick is still there and it is still used almost exclusively by griefers. A patch also added crouching, which makes you a smaller target while you reload your gun, as if the game didn't have enough campers already.
I didn't find the multiplayer maps very interesting. Just generic battlegrounds without charm of Warband maps. Maybe it's because I spent so much time in one spot firing shots at enemies that I didn't really get to explore the rest of the map. Or maybe it's because the maps were designed for that kind of gameplay.
The game is realistic, but not in a good way. There are 5 historically accurate factions and they aren't as diverse as the factions in previous games. The game takes place in eastern Europe, which means the maps consist almost entirely of grassland and small patches of forests. There's no snow or desert environments, and only a small amount of rough terrain. You also can't start your own kingdom, you can only choose to become a rebel but it's not really the same. When the game was released, you couldn't play as a female character, but this feature was later added in a patch. I really don't see how the game benefits from realism. It's based on a Polish novel with the same name, so I suppose some may find it interesting, but I had never even heard of the novel before.
Ultimately, I think the biggest problem is that they are still using the same old game engine. It excels at mounted combat, directional attacks and blocking. Not long range sniper fest gunfights. The UI has always been a bit clunky and the addition of main quests and real storylines makes in even more obvious. Also, I think there are some big balance issues with some of main quests. One of them has you breaking out of a prison, all you have is a melee weapon and you're up against gun users in long corridors with no cover. I had to lower the difficulty to complete that one. If you fail, the game kicks you back to main menu. That is not something you'd expect in a sandbox game.
The engine is getting outdated and not suitable for this kind of gameplay. I think the developers too realize this. But as with the previous games, the true potential of the game is yet to be seen, just wait while modders start to really get their hands on it. Overall, I didn't find the game as enjoyable as the previous ones, but I still got 44 hours of enjoyment out of it shortly after release. I'd strongly recommend Warband over this one.
One of the best games ever madesteamisbetter | June 28, 2011 | Review of Deus Ex: Game of the Year Edition DNS
Deus Ex is an FPS-RPG set in dystopic near future. The story deals with conspiracy theories, megacorporations, artificial intelligence, human augmentation, disease and oppression.
The game features open maps with multiple ways of accomplishing your objective. No matter how you allocate your skill points, there's a route for your character build. No real wrong choices here. Some of the game elements feel a bit rushed and not properly balanced though. Heavy weapons have too little ammo to be used as a primary weapon, LAWs are usually found in places where they are not needed, and PS20s and throwing knives are so rare that you have to wonder why they even bothered to put them in the game.
It's possible to beat the game with minimal enemy casualties. The game puts emphasis on the choice between lethal and non-lethal combat during the early parts of the game, but later it just disappears. You can keep playing as a pacifist if you want to, NPCs just won't acknowledge it.
Voice acting is so bad it's good. The main character, JC Denton, is notable for his monotonous voice and one-liners. The game takes place in many locations around the world, including Hong Kong and Paris, so prepare for some horrifying fake accents. Music on the other hand is absolutely amazing, easily one of the best video game soundtracks I've ever heard.
The GOTY version includes the final patch, which added multiplayer. And like many other games with an afterthought multiplayer, it is not so great. There are some weird quirks, like snipers not having an aiming animation, so you can't tell if a sniper is afk or about to headshot you.
There are user-made mods that attempt to remove the bad parts of the game, such as Shifter and BioMod. For total conversion mods, I'd recommend The Nameless Mod, but only after you've completed Deus Ex.
Avoidsteamisbetter | June 27, 2011 | Review of Space Siege [Playfire]
Like the game's name suggests, this was made by the developers of the original Dungeon Siege games, however I would consider it more of a shooter than an RPG. There are no real loot to be found here, you'll just find utility items like medkits, grenades and upgrade materials. Upgrade materials are used to increase your basic stats like attack or health, or to increase effectiveness of your chosen weapons. The process is linear and by the end of the game you should have maxed out many of those stats and some of your weapons, so there isn't much customization here
There are two skill trees though. Combat tree raises your character's combat ability, Engineering tree focuses on tech and on HR-V's (your robot companion) combat ability. I found HR-V to be of limited use. He's good for tanking but not much else. You can issue him direct orders but you're usually too busy with your own character to do so. Some of your skill tree abilities are locked unless you take cybernetic augmentations, which is where things gets somewhat interesting...
The game focuses on transhumanism, both gameplay and story wise. During your adventure, you'll come across cybernetics that allow you to replace your human body parts and increase your abilities at the cost of your humanity. Your NPC allies have differing opinions on this matter, so the hard choice is left to you. Cybernetics give you stat boosts, new skill tree choices and access to some heavy weaponry that would otherwise be unusable. There are no real gameplay benefits for staying human, so it should be easy to figure out how it affects the storyline.
Gameplay is poor. Hold down the fire button until enemies die, and dodge occasional ranged attacks. If you somehow manage to get yourself killed, you respawn at the nearest aid station. The game does have a physics system, so shooting gas canisters makes them fly around and eventually explode. That's about the most fun you'll get out of this game.
The game took me about 7 hours to finish. The story has some replayability because of multiple endings, but the bland gameplay really doesn't. There's an online multiplayer option, but I couldn't find anyone to play with. Overall, I'd recommend GREED: Black Border over this game.
Also, it should be noted that the controls are mostly uncustomizable. You get to choose between QWERTY/QWERTZ/AZERTY but that's about it. The camera rotates in the "wrong" direction for me, and the developers decided to bind the hotkey for medkits to "H" key, a rather uncomfortable location for a panic button. This was the main reason why it took me over a year to start playing the game.
Coolsteamisbetter | June 20, 2011 | Review of Cryostasis
Cryostasis is mostly remembered as a tech demo with its PhysX-driven fluid dynamics. As a game, it's a fairly standard survival-horror FPS with two notable gameplay features.
First is temperature, your body temperature acts as a health pool which slowly drains towards current ambient temperature and can be replenished by finding sources of heat. You can't die from cold in most areas, but there are some specific areas where the ambient temperature is zero. And since your body temperature is your health, it also protects you from enemies. The enemies are sort of frost zombies, and your damage indicator is an ice crystal rather than blood.
Second is "mental echo", the protagonist's inexplicable ability to dive inside the mind of a dead person and alter the past by reliving the dead person's last moments. This involves figuring out what killed the person and how to avoid getting killed by it. It's interesting at first, but the novelty quickly wears off. Many cases of mental echo are necessary to advance, as they involve removing some kind of obstacle in the process. You have infinite tries at mental echo.
The story of Cryostasis is told in many ways. The protagonist finds notes and letters scattered around the ship, and sometimes encounters black-and-white flashback cutscenes. You'll also use the mental echo ability to witness the ship's final moments through the eyes of its crew. Lastly, there's a parallel story of Danko, based on Russian author Maxim Gorky's work, which describes the events of the ship in a symbolic way.
As a shooter, it's fairly poor. There is no locational damage and the enemy AI is unfair, sometimes turning around 180 degrees and hitting you in a split second.
I'd recommend picking it up just to experience the great story.
Tropico 3Dsteamisbetter | April 9, 2011 | Review of Tropico 3: Gold Edition DNS
Tropico 3 remains faithful to the original Tropico. Virtually all buildings from the original game can be found here, and Tropico veterans should also recognize many of the edicts and leader backgrounds. Of course, Tropico 3 introduces some features, but they don't radically change the way the game is played.
I'd say the biggest difference is the addition of cars and instantaneously building roads, allowing you to access most of your island and its resources early on. In the original Tropico, expanding your industry required turning on the grid view and counting tiles to figure out the optimal placement for construction offices. This is no longer necessary in Tropico 3. You now also have an avatar in the game world, which can be directly controlled or have the AI control it. Your avatar can visit buildings to boost their production, give speeches from the palace or even take part in combat.
Tropico 3 has its share of problems. Factions are way too easy to please. Having maximum respect with every faction at the same time shouldn't be possible. The scenarios are too easy, most of them can be beaten on your first attempt. Finally, the scenario editor that comes with the game is nowhere near as in-depth as I'd like.
Tropico 3: Gold Edition also includes the expansion pack Absolute Power, which adds a new faction, new edicts, new buildings and new leader backgrounds. Some of the new buildings are great additions, such as the wind turbine which generates electricity up to 40 MW, depending on altitude. It's fairly cheap, has no building requirements and doesn't require workers, so you get access to electricity right off the bat. There's also a new nuclear program, which prevents superpowers from invading but is very expensive to build. The rest of the new buildings are less impressive.
Absolute Power includes 10 new scenarios, some of which are really unusual even by Tropico's standards. Without spoiling anything, in one of the scenarios you are tasked to "survive the time paradox". Another scenario involves boosting your island's tourism by spreading made-up rumors about a cryptid called La Chupacabra.
The biggest flaw of Absolute Power is the lack of new music. Other than that, I'd say it is an essential add-on to the base game. While Tropico 3: Gold Edition is a worthwhile addition to the series, the original Tropico: Mucho Macho Edition still has more scenarios and more music. I'd suggest playing the original first.
Yet another physics-based indie gamesteamisbetter | April 7, 2011 | Review of Bob Came in Pieces [Playfire]
Figuring out the puzzles isn't the hard part. The hard part is building your ship in a way that it can solve the puzzle and can take off the construction pad without instantly flipping over. The game is physics-based, so putting too many parts on either side of the ship makes it unbalanced and hard to control. Trying to balance it out by putting more parts to the other side makes it heavy and unable to get through narrow passages. Even if you do get stuck, you can return to the previous construction pad by pressing enter, although this also resets whatever progress you managed to make.
Collecting all parts across every level took me about 5 hours. Once you're done with that, you can try beating the time trials in adventure mode levels, or try out the new VR levels. Overall, it's a fairly standard indie puzzle game. Nothing remarkable about it. Get it when it goes on sale.
Difficultsteamisbetter | April 7, 2011 | Review of Droplitz
Starts off easy but gets hectic very quickly. If you're the kind of person who enjoys difficult fast-paced puzzle games then this game is for you. For me, getting a high score felt like it was out of my control. Sooner or later I'd just get stuck with crappy parts and I could do nothing but watch as my droplitz reserve got depleted. The music is quite good though and it's a good looking game.
Improved Fantasy Warssteamisbetter | April 7, 2011 | Review of Elven Legacy Collection [Playfire]
Elven Legacy is a sequel to a fantasy strategy game Fantasy Wars, which are both similar to an older strategy game called Fantasy General.
The game is more or less the same as Fantasy Wars. Same menus, same interface and same gameplay mechanics. The campaign works a bit differently: unlike Fantasy Wars which was completely linear, Elven Legacy has a few branching paths with different missions. So instead of having to do just Mission 2, you get to choose between Mission 2a and Mission 2b. It doesn't have any effect on the overall storyline, but it adds some replay value to the game. Another new campaign feature is bonus missions. When you get a gold rating on certain storyline missions, you unlock an optional bonus mission. These bonus missions are usually about the characters from Fantasy Wars, which is why I recommend you play Fantasy Wars before Elven Legacy.
Elven Legacy Collection contains the base game and all 3 content packs: Ranger, Siege and Magic. These content packs add a new campaign each, which is nice as the base game had just one campaign, whereas Fantasy Wars had 3 campaigns. Do note that none of the content packs contain any original voice acting, but then again it's a strategy game.
So, in short, if you liked Fantasy Wars, you will like Elven Legacy and vice versa.
Fantasticsteamisbetter | April 7, 2011 | Review of Fantasy Wars DNS
Fantasy Wars is a turn-based, hex-based fantasy strategy game very similar to Fantasy General. There are 3 campaigns: human campaign, orc campaign and alliance campaign (mostly elves & dwarves).
Units you recruit, experience you gain, artifacts you find and money you acquire all carry over to next missions. There's a possibility of a snowball effect here, so if you do very poorly in a mission you might want to give it another try before going any further in storyline. All missions have 3 turn limits: gold, silver and bronze. The faster you complete the mission, the better rewards you get. Some people find turn limits annoying, but you don't have to get a gold rating on every single mission.
As your units gain experience, they level up. Leveling up gives your units a small increase to their basic combat attribute, and you also get to choose a perk for that unit. Perks are special abilities that let you to further specialize your units to certain roles, for example a magic spell, a large increase to defense at the cost of a small penalty to offense, or a passive support ability that buffs neighboring allies or debuffs neighboring enemies. Regular units have a maximum level of 5, while hero units can go all the way to level 10.
Overall, Fantasy Wars is an enjoyable old school strategy game. The story isn't all that great, but it's not all that important for a strategy game. The whole game took me nearly 40 hours to complete. If you enjoyed the game, check out the sequel Elven Legacy, which is more of the same.
Only for those who are willing to play it multiple timessteamisbetter | April 7, 2011 | Review of Alpha Protocol
Alpha Protocol is all about choices & consequences. What you decide to do early in the game will affect how the story plays out in the later parts of the game.
The three main areas of the game can be played in any order you wish, meaning you may get to know some of the plot characters earlier or later than you did on your previous playthrough, which changes the dialogue quite a bit. You have a reputation statistic with every plot character you meet. How they treat you depends on how you treat them. Gameplay also affects some of the perks you receive, for example playing stealthily gains you perks that further increase your stealth abilities.
Replayability and choices & consequences are about the only things Alpha Protocol does right. It's a fairly basic third-person shooter with some stealth elements, the skill tree is greatly unbalanced, the characters are unlikeable (including the main character) and the story is something you would see in a bad movie.
If you're the kind of gamer who only completes games once, then there's very little reason to get Alpha Protocol. Others will appreciate the effort they put into creating a player-driven game, but the rest of it is simply unremarkable.
Excellentsteamisbetter | April 6, 2011 | Review of Hitman: Blood Money [Playfire]
This is my first and so far the only game I've played in the Hitman series. In short, you play as Agent 47 and are tasked to assassinate your target(s) in an everyday setting, such as a party or an opera house.
The game gives you plenty of freedom to assassinate your targets in any way you want to, but to achieve the Silent Assassin rating you are expected to play stealthily using disguises, sneaking, concealed weapons and using the environment to cause unfortunate "accidents".
Your targets usually follow a specific routine, which they will then repeat until you take them out. This gives you plenty of time to study the target and the environment they are in. Difficulty level determines the amount of saves you can make during a level, among a few other things.
I had fun time with this game, despite a few cases of "ghost witnesses" who somehow spotted me even when they shouldn't have. It's a great introduction to the genre and I'd recommend it to anyone who's even slightly interested by the premise.
Mount & Blade Onlinesteamisbetter | April 6, 2011 | Review of Mount & Blade: Warband DNS
There's a single-player campaign which many people didn't care about because of the new multiplayer feature and because of the large amount of mods available for the original M&B. I haven't played it for more than a few hours but I'd imagine it's more of the same with some new features. The combat system is the same as in the original, with mounted combat and directional attacks. It's not nearly as good or realistic as many people claim.
The description says the multiplayer is up to 64 players, but there are custom servers that allow 100-200 players, and despite the large player count, it works really well with no lag. The large online battles really are the best part of the game, and because of the large number of players, it feels non-competitive and is very easy to get into for new players.
There's also the popular cRPG mod, which brings persistent character progress from the single-player campaign to multiplayer games and there are many servers are running the mod. Works well if you want to play the game like an MMORPG.
Flawed masterpiecesteamisbetter | April 5, 2011 | Review of Pathologic
First of all: the English translation of Pathologic was made by a number of different translation agencies. As a result, the quality of the translation varies greatly from game-day to game-day, ranging from passable to nearly incomprehensible.
You must be able to tolerate the horribly broken English in order to enjoy the game, as the game is very text heavy. Most of the story is told through dialogue, although there are some FMVs and rendered cut-scenes that play during the more important events of the story. There is no full voice acting during dialogue; most characters have an introduction line that plays at the start of the dialogue, but it is not directly related to what is actually written in the dialogue.
The graphics and animation are low quality and were outdated even back when the game was first released. Pathologic uses a third-party facial animation software in attempt to compensate for the lack of vivid narration and full voice acting during dialogue, with poor results.
Outside, the player is surrounded by heavy fog, similar to old 3D games with limited draw distance. You won't be able to see great landmarks such as the Polyhedron or the Abattoir from a distance, which makes navigating the town a chore until you have memorized the town map.
Gameplay of Pathologic is mostly about talking to characters and walking around. There are 3 playable characters, each one of them has their own scenario with unique quests and dialogue. After a character scenario has been chosen, the other 2 main characters will show up in the game world as NPCs, working with and against you. The ultimate goal is to save the town from a deadly disease and you are given 12 days to accomplish this.
When you are not talking to a character or on your way to talk to a character, you are gathering resources to ensure your own survival. Trash cans and dumpsters often contain seemingly useless junk that can be traded with the townsfolk for food, first aid, antibiotics and bullets. Muggers and marauders can be killed for extra money. Lockpicks can be used to break into houses to steal food. The vast steppe surrounding the town is filled with harvestable Twyrine, which can be traded or brewed. The player's status is presented by 6 main stats: Reputation, Health, Immunity, Hunger, Exhaustion, and Infection.
Overall, Pathologic is a game that requires great patience. It is hard to get into because of its lack of tutorial and its unforgiving survival elements. If you can look past the occasionally poor translation, you'll find one of the more interesting stories ever told in a video game. Personally I found the town's folklore to be the most fascinating thing about the story.
Estimated play time: 12-24 hours for each character, 36-72 hours in total.
goty 2009steamisbetter | April 4, 2011 | Review of The Void
video game art at its finest. this is not an adventure game in the traditional sense of the word, but a slow-paced action game of resource gathering and management. it's certainly unique.
the game can be brutally difficult for newcomers as the in-game "tutorial" explains gameplay mechanics poorly and far too late into the game. you have to start over at some points, probably multiple times, as you learn how the game works. this seems to be a turn off for many gamers.
you can find a fan-made "easy patch" and plenty of friendly advice on the official forums. check them out.