Archive for November, 2011

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Posted: 19/11/2011 in Reviews
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Redefining the word “Time-suck”…

Back in 2006, Bethesda Games Studio’s released Oblivion, widely recognized as one of the best RPG’s of all time. This game redefined the RPG genre. Five years later, Bethesda launches Skyrim, improving on everything the old game put in place, and creating even more glorious content for everyone to play for another billion hours.

The stories in this game are long, deep, well thought out adventures with many fantastic scenes and epic battles. In this take of the Elder Scrolls universe, there are 6 of these wonderful stories. The first one is the main quest line, which has you, the Dragonborn, fighting to stop the dragons, which are reappearing after being extinct for millennia. 4 of these are the guild quest lines, which are the Thieves guild, the Companions guild (a fighters guild lookalike), the college of Winterhold (a mages guild copy), and the Dark Brotherhood. The last story is one that is told by two sides. In this story, you can choose either the Imperials, or the Stormcloaks. Both sides have you fighting the other for control. However, the Imperials are fighting to control it as an empire, and the Stormcloaks are fighting for the freedom to rule under a separate banner. All of these quests are long, deep, and a blast to play.

In the nature of all the Elder Scrolls, there are also other quests throughout the game. They come in a large variety, and can be picked up all over the province. However, the cities will have most of these quests. Most of these quests will be very polished, have a definite story, which is quick and to-the-point. Even though these quests are plentiful, there is also another kind of quest. Anyone who has done their pre-game research will know that this game sports an infinite quest system. These quests will all be generated by the game, and they will be quests involving you to go clear out a dungeon, find some plants, or recover a certain material. All of these fetching quests will have a small backstory, whether it’s a logger asking you to bring her bear pelts because they’re threatening her to go out of business, or a smith asking you to fetch fire salts that make his forge run. These extra quests are all fun and varied, and will guarantee you lack of light for a few extra days.

One of the bigger improvements to Skyrim is the handcrafted dungeons. When Oblivion was created, there was one person designing the dungeons. After looking at a few caves and forts, you could see they were puzzle pieces arranged in different orders. The traps and trick doors were easy and predictable, and these dungeons were boring wastes of time. In Skyrim, there are 7 dungeon creators. Each dungeon is hand-crafted; no more puzzle pieces. On top of the beautiful new dungeons, they have added genuine puzzles. Now, you’ll be forced to get passed all matters of challenges, which range from basic pressure plates to jumping platforms. All in all, the dungeons are now beautiful, challenging, enjoyable parts of Skyrim.

The combat in Skyrim is greatly improved from Oblivion. In Oblivion, the enemies were easy to manipulate, had terrible variety, and were quite bland. In Skyrim, there is a huge variety. All of the enemies, even basic ones like bears, pose genuine challenge. There is a slight balance issue with the difficulty of fighting certain creatures. For example, a battle with two dragons might be a walk in the park, but a single bear will have you on the ground in two swings of its paws. Adding to the combat system are perks. The perks add advantages to each class, and make you think a genuine strategy for the progression of your character. These perks vary from shield bashing to a 20% damage increase with bows. Some of the perks are copied from skill to skill, making them seem slightly repetitive, but are genuinely valuable. The last combat changer is the Thu’um, or shouts. These shouts are ancient dragon powers, which you will use throughout the game. These come in a large variety, ranging from slow time to fire blast to storm call. The shouts add a nicely balanced layer to the combat; they are neither overpowering nor useless. The additions that Bethesda has added to the combat make it thoroughly enjoyable and empowering.

The world of Skyrim is a bold masterpiece. Everything from the people in the cities to the mountains encasing them gives off the same, cold vibe. You can tell the creators put a lot of time and effort into making this so. The music, for example, has a very open, epic feel to it. It reminds me of the music you’d expect Vikings to play right before a battle, which fits the idea of Skyrim perfectly. Another aspect of Skyrim that enraptures this feel is the world itself. In some parts, it has calm rivers cascading down the side of a small cliff. In other parts, you’ll see the remains of a shipwreck being bombarded with thick sheets of snow on an ice field. As beautiful as most of the world is, there are a few places that lack polish that the rest of the world receives. Most of these places are the more remote places, like the tops of mountains, but they still show up, making certain areas a bit less enjoyable visually. However, besides the small lack of polish in remote locations, I have no complaints for the world Bethesda crafted. It truly is a masterpiece to behold.

However, as high as I praise this game, there are a few problems that I have with the game. Firstly, the finishing moves are sometimes cringe-worthy. They are poorly executed, and, unfortunately, have no toggle switch. Secondly, the new engine is overly similar from the old engine. Bethesda said they were bringing a completely new engine, which is apparent, but has remnants of the older engines shining through. Lastly, the game has a few solvable glitches. In a game this size, this is expected, but some of the quirks are inexcusable. For example, there are certain options in the menu’s that will send you flying all over the place. They might not be huge bugs, but the small ones are noticeable, which add a (very) small layer of disappointment.

All in all, this game is a glowing masterpiece. The downsides are very easy to forgive when compared to the features that the game sports. This is a game that anyone should go out and get. If you’re on the edge, I fully suggest you buy this game. It might be the best RPG I have ever had my hands on. However, be warned. This is the biggest game I have ever seen. If you are a fan of playing lots of games, skip over this. Skyrim can literally be played infinitely. If that seems like something that you’d be interested in, go out and buy it. I can’t recommend this game enough.

Score: 9.5

Up-Side: A deep, beautiful world with endless possibilities, a huge amount of rich content, a very immersive combat system.

Down-Side: Ugly finishing moves, reused engine, small bugs, big time-suck.

What we’re wondering: What will the inevitable DLC bring?

-Darcy Hebert

Old Time Gaming #2

Posted: 17/11/2011 in Uncategorized

Tally ho, readers, Legionaire the Gentleman Gamer here.
Welcome back to our weekly post, where I review and discuss an older game.
Today, I bring you: Unreal Tournament.

Overview
Released in 1999, it uses the Unreal Engine, which is now known as the engine that runs games from Gears of War to Mass Effect, to create a gory, fast action FPS experience. It mostly concentrates on multiplayer-only(which was popular at the time), with a small, arena-based campaign. It strongly affected the later FPS, drawing from its ideas and gameplay.

Gameplay
Unreal Tournament is based on quick action and lightning reflexes. With most maps being enclosed in small areas, the choice of weapons are perfect. It has only 11 weapons, but it only needs 11, as the weapons span almost every kind of weapon imaginable. Online is quick to set up, fun, and easy to get into. Despite being an older game, it can take an amazing amount of bots(which are also some of the best I’ve ever seen, with adjustable difficulties that make sense), depending on the hosting computer. I’ve managed to play with up to 300 bots on my rig, which can really make up for its languishing online community.

Graphics
For its time, Unreal Tournament had great graphics. It has (especially for back then) gory deaths, with explosions leaving blood stains and gibs flying. Despite all this, the game really shows it’s age when put beside a modern game.

Story
As the campaign was just created as an extended tutorial, it really has no story, which in this sort of game, doesn’t really matter.

Other
Unreal Tournament has the most satisfying killing spree sounds in gaming. The infamous “M-M-M-MONSTER KILL” first appears in this game, along with perfect weapon sounds. Unreal Tournament also comes with “Unreal-Ed”, which allows users to create their own maps and mods, allowing for many varieties in gameplay.

Overall
This game, despite showing it’s age, shines through as a classical piece of FPS history. It deserves a nice, jolly, 8.5/10. I would strongly recommend this game to anyone looking for an easy, simple yet glorious fps experience, especially for lan parties.

Old Time Gaming #1

Posted: 09/11/2011 in Old Time Gaming

Salutations, readers. Legionaire the Gentleman Gamer here.
Let me introduce you to our brand new weekly post, Old Time Gaming, where I review and discuss an older game.
Today, I introduce to you: Warcraft II, Tides of Darkness.

Overview
Released in 1995 as a sequel to the hit game Warcraft I: Orcs and Humans, it gained large commercial success, selling over 2 million copies and winning several major PC awards, improving the industries view on the whole genre. Where earlier Real Time Strategy(RTS) games started, Warcraft expanded and became the basis for most RTS games afterward. It’s expansion also introduced Battlenet, now known for its widespread use in popular games such as World of Warcraft, Starcraft I & II, and Warcraft III.

Gameplay
Warcraft II has smooth, quick gameplay, with hundreds of possible strategies to use. With an intuitive user interface, it makes it easy for even a new gamer to grasp the concepts and controls. It’s multiplayer soon became a staple in contests, before being drowned out by the massive success of Starcraft. Unfortunately, despite its usually climactic endings, it starts off pretty slow.

Graphics
For it’s time, Warcraft has amazing graphics, a huge improvement from the first game. It takes 2D to a whole new level with expertly drawn models and incredibly detailed maps, that you can create with the map editor, which is one of the first officially released creation tools in gaming, inviting modders to create their own creations. The only flaw in its graphics are the sometimes clunky animations that fortunately don’t disrupt gameplay.

Story
Warcraft II has a solid, engaging story, once again an improvement over the first, using short cinematics to explain the mission and in-game instructions to guide the rest of the way. In this title, it begins to really flesh out the amazing lore and back story of the Warcraft universe, one that is so gigantic and loved it has spawned almost 10 titles in its name, most famously the MMORPG World of Warcraft.

Other
Warcraft II has a rather spiffing soundtrack. It’s classic melodies will have your head bobbing and your mind set on winning, without distracting you. On another side, it also has a great sense of humor, with the characters reacting to too many clicks in different ways, and small Easter eggs.

Overall
I give this nostalgic monument a solid 8.5 out of 10. It’s tiny flaws are especially glaring after coming back from playing newer games, and with its multiplayer community almost gone, this relic of old times is only good for old school LAN parties and returns to old memories. However, I strongly recommend this to any old school gamer looking for a blast to the past.

Cheerio!

-Legionaire, The Gentleman Gamer.

The Wii Review

Posted: 08/11/2011 in Reviews

Hey there, looks like i’m going to be your new nintendo guy. My name is Mattius. Instead of wasting text i’ll get right into it.

I’m going to start off with a review of the nintendo Wii. I remember growing up with the super NES, Nintendo 64 and the Gamecube. All great consoles. Naturally I was psyched when Nintendo announced their “Nintendo Revolution“. I got up everyday looking for updates on this new console. I remember them renaming it to the Wii, when they announced twilight princess and when they brought out the new motion controllers, Man was I excited. This excitement just led to a bigger dissapointment for me. Nintendo led me to believe that this was going to be some great revolutionary device. I`m not saying it`s bad, im just saying that it was kind of a dissapointment. When I first brought the Wii home I hooked it all up and put in twilight princess and the biggest issue i had was with the controls. I was expecting more “You do this and so will the charactor“ not “shake the Wii-mote around like a crazy person to perform amazing actions on screen“. Since then almost every wii game has had the same mechanic- shake the controller around to do things. For the games that didnt use “motion“ controls we had a few options: point at screen, tilt sideways for use as a controller or ,for very few games, go out and buy ANOTHER controller piece known as the classic controler. For these controllers you pay up to $50 for the Wii-mote, another $20 for the Nunchuck attachment and now they want me to buy another $20 attachment. Thats a $90 controller, not to mention how they came out with wii motion plus adding more cost onto your controller. It`s not like the gameplay is ruined by this contoller but it can get quite irritating by the shaking and pointing motions.

One redeeming factor about the Wii is the Virtual console. It is the Wii`s version of the Xbox marketplace or playstaion Store. What it had though that I liked was classic games from Nintendos previous consoles like the N64 or the Super Nintendo. Nintendo also came out with page in the virtual console for mini games that were only available through download, like Pokemon Rumble. There were few games on this though. The virtual console is not limited to just games though, you are also able to download (for free) such useless channels like the “everybody votes“ channel. One thing I found kind of an annoyance is no DLC (for those of you who dont know- Downloadable content). The closest this the Wii had to DLC was a disc for rockband that you have to go out to a store and buy. That, I found kind of depressing. Another small annoyance would be the sensor bar. You have to line that little bugger up with where your sitting and at the correct hight (which is like center screen) so you can easily work with the games that require you to point at the screen. Its just an annoyance. I can put up with the sensor bar but another thing I found annoying is all the peripherals the wii has for it, they arent necessary and, like the games, most are just third party crap. Its just another huge cash grab.

The thing the Wii has going for it the most would be its backward compatability. I LOVED the gamecube, one of my favorite consoles to date. When I found i could play gamecube games on the Wii I almost exploded. And the Wii`s backwards compatability isn`t like the 360`s where you were only able to play about half of the original Xbox`s games, or the PS3`s were they scrapped that feature altogether. It`s perfect, no graphic flaws or sound distortion. Nothing, just perfect gamecube awesome. If anything was done right on the Wii it would be that. And no matter what game you are playing on the Wii (even if you aren`t playing a game) the Wii is drastically quieter than both the PS3 and the Xbox 360, so no need to turn your volume up to hear over the annoying hums plus with its compact size you dont have to worry about clearing a huge space just to make room.

Now the most important category for a console. The games. I have mixed feelings about the games on the Wii. On one hand you have first party gems such as Legend Of Zelda Twilight Princess and Super Mario Galaxy and on the other hand you have third party games such as… Chicken shoot and Carnival games. Third party developers use the Wii as a huge cash grab. They pump out massive amounts of “Family Friendly“ garbage because they know that the parents who bought this console for their kids will buy it. There are VERY few third party games on the Wii worthy of anyones time. Nintendo has always made fantastic games on their part though. You know if Nintendo is making a new Zelda or Mario then they will not dissapoint. This was my main reasoning for purchasing the Wii in the first place. If your buying a wii for this 3rd party garbage I would highly recommend you invest your money elsewhere. If you bought or are buying one for the first party gems, then that is exactly what you should be doing with this console.

The Good: Perfect backwards compatability, Fantastic first party games, great selection of classic games on the virtual console, Quiet, Compact size.
The Bad: Terrible third party game support, Irritating and pricey controllers, annoying sensor bar, too many peripherals.

In summary if you dont have a Wii by now I wouldnt recommend getting one unless you are a die hard Nintendo fan, appreciate the gems the Nintendo first party brings out or if you have to buy a new one because some annoying toddler threw it off the balcony.
The Nintendo Wii gets a 7 out of 10 for me

-Mattius

Battlefield 3 Review

Posted: 02/11/2011 in Reviews
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On Oct.25, 2011 the long anticipated first person shooter arrives on the market. After winning two awards at e3, the newly enhanced Battlefield 3, run by a new engine called Frostbite 2, comes out of the gate swinging. The new enhanced graphics textures and detailed warzones make it look and feel like you’re an actual soldier.

Campaign:
You play as Sergeant Blackburn, a marine in detention who has information on a terrorist attack. You are interrogated, and are forced to recall all the missions you faught in. Fighting an enemy know as the PLR, you go on various mission trying to locate terrorists and stop a plot. When you and your team discover a new threat, it’s a race against the clock to stop the destruction of New York. Throughout the campaign, you will play as other soldiers. One of these soldiers is Dima, a Russian operative trying to stop a bomb in France. The AI has a few problems. During some of the firefights, they will rush past you like they saw a French model covered in bacon. Hard difficulty is for the elite. If you’re exposed for more than a second or two, you’ll be tasting dirt. All in all, this campaign was exciting, yet dull. The ending left you hanging with no idea as to what happened. If you’re looking for a good campaign, take your money elsewhere.

Multiplayer:
When it comes to virtual battlefields, nobody does it quite like Dice. This studio has a long history of creating sprawling conflict zones where players have an exhilarating range of ways to make powerful contributions to the war effort. Nine great maps set the stage for 24 players to fight it out in a variety of locations, ranging from urban, industrial, and military battle zones. These places all look great, though the grassy hills and blue skies of the Caspian Border are naturally more appealing than the drab urban corridors of the Grand Bazaar. The maps vary widely in size and offer diverse environmental elements, including claustrophobic tunnels, coastal roads, desert plains, and a variety of multistory buildings. Many man-made structures can be damaged or destroyed by the explosive tools at your disposal, creating new infiltration routes or removing cover positions. The maps are designed to create opportunities for combat at all ranges, and the element of destruction lets you manipulate the environment to create even more. The maps and vehicles allow for a great degree of strategic freedom, but choosing your class and load-out is the first and most important decision you make before spawning into combat.

Good:
• Fulfilling multiplayer with almost complete destruction
• Amazing array of vehicles & weapons, teamwork rewards
• Many attractive environments.

Bad:
• Disappointing Campaign
• Only six co-op missions
• Must download a texture pact to enjoy the game
• Game comes on two discs
• Multiplayer has a few design flaws

Rated: 8.0

Written by Ryan McCallum

Reviewed on XBox 360

Click bellow to buy Battlefield 3 from Amason.

Battlefield 3