Saturday, February 25, 2012

Just for Fun: Best Games of 2011, A LEGO Short

Today I bring you another piece of stop motion video game based brilliance from those cheeky (patient) devils from Kooberz Studios.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Mass Effect 3 Multiplayer Beta Review

"We are Mass Effect you love our game, we want you to play it longer, so we are gonna jump on the bandwagon and make a multiplayer, meeehhhhh!"

Not really, it's actually really good.

It's impressive to see a game like ME, a game that has been so based in its mission to create a really good single player game, come out with something so balanced like an awesome multiplayer. It's rare to find quality well rounded games now days. Either a game has an awesome multiplayer, but shoddy single player (I'm lookin' at you DICE) or a really good single player but a crap multi, a multi no one plays, or no multi at all.

Intro ME3 Beta. First off, BioWare did an awesome thing by letting all players get a taste of the Beta, even those without a Gold Membership, by granting you restricted and temporary Gold status upon downloading the demo. So even if you don't have XBL, you can still check out the beta.

So, you heard about the Single player, it's awesome and sad, Shepard is a bad ass, the reapers are literally douchteroids, time to save the fuckin' galaxy. Well forget all that, because the beta has nothing to do with any of it.

You're first choice is what class do you want to play?

Adept, Soldier, Engineer, Sentinel, Infiltrator, or Vanguard.
You should know by now what those mean, if not... well whatever. I don't care.
So, each class also has four races, Humans being able to take on any class, and then other classes breaking down from there. Each Race in each class has different abilities. E.G. Human Engineers have Incinerate, Overload, and Combat Drone; where Quarian Engineers have Incinerate, Cryo Blast, and Sentry Turret. Yay choices. (Note, Humans are the only race that can be each class. Check that link, every other race has only 2 class choices)

As you level one class, each race in that class also levels up. Following up on the Engineer example, if you level your Human to level 20(which is the cap, as far as we can tell), whenever you unlock the Quarian, she will also be level 20. All you have to do is decide where to put your points. However, each class levels up separately. So even if you have a level 20 Engineer, all of your other classes will remain un-leveled until you grind 'em up.

Then next choice you have to make (assuming that in choosing your character, you have established what powers you are going to use primarily) is what weapons are you going to run with. This can be changed at any point outside a match, but what weapons to use brings in some interesting things to consider.
This happens. Often. 
Each character has a certain amount of "strength" based on race and skill points. That strength contributes to how carrying weapons affect you. Allow me to explain... because this confused the balls off of all of us when we started this. The heavier the weapon(s) you have equipped, the slower your powers will recharge. in the case of a power hungry Adept, she may want to roll with only one pistol or an SMG. Adding heavier or more weapons is going to slow her recharge time significantly. A Krogan on the other hand, may not care, and have enough strength to dampen the reduction in recharge time. So he can roll with a Shotgun and an Assault Rifle. It adds more decisions for you to make on how you are going to play each and every character.

One last thing. In true EA fashion, the equipment upgrade, and item/character unlocking system is a random pack buying thingy. You play games, get points, and buy these packs. In these packs are usable in-game items (Medi-gels, missiles, quick-heals, ammo packs), item mods (scopes, magazines, stabilizers, etc.) weapons (Sniper, shotgun, assault rifle, SMG, pistol) and characters. You get six cards in each pack, 3 of which are consumables, the other 3 vary in rarity and such depending on the type of pack you buy. So yeah, that's neat. Unless you are as unlucky as I am, and have yet to see but 2 rare cards while your roommates sit on 7 different characters of differing races and you find your self secrelty plotting their death, in hopes their luck will bleed into you... then you remember that it's just the beta, and all this data will not be saved over to the real game (seriously. It won't).. that fact saves their lives

For Now.

So the game itself is very Horde/Firefight/DeadSpace ish. Waves of baddies come to mess you up, and you gotta win. However, sometimes the wave begins, and you and your team of four are given an objective that can range from defending a point, to taking out targeted enemies. The waves get harder, and on wave 11, you have to hold the LZ, and wait for extraction. Tons of fun. Fo Realz.


So that's the  info on the multi-player as of the beta and such. I, personally. and pretty excited to see the full game. See you online, on March 6th!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Mass Effect 3 Single Player Demo Review

We continue the O&E's gradual rise from the ashes of nonproduction (not a real word) with a review of Mass Effect 3's single player mode. "But El Jefe," you might (or might not) say. We're assuming you might, "I bought Battlefield 3 because I am very cool, probably cooler than you. No, definitely cooler. Consequently, I can like play co-op and stuff. Why can't you?????????"

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning Review

When I saw this game at E3, my interest for its existence was low to moderate...
Then people started saying things like "HERP! It's Skyrim with good combat!" or "DERP! It's Fable with quests!" and I thought


Okay, so I still didn't care. It wasn't until I saw this trailer that I decided I was going to start giving this game a little interest. My cup of care is well regulated and precious after all.

Alright... so.. that looks pretty awesome. I decided I'd check it out when it came out. 
So it's out, I've played it, and I'm mildly impressed. It's a very well made game, a lot of love went into this sucker, so let's break it down a bit. 

The character development/leveling is by far my favorite part of this game. Points go into skill trees of your choosing, and into crafting skills, sneak, lockpicking, persuasion etc etc. Wanna beat the snot outa some monsters face? Might is for you. Blah Blah, you saw the video. The point is it's simple. Leveling shouldn't be a chore; I want this, point point here. However, it also shouldn't be devoid of options, an unfortunate habit Fable had. Each tree is surprisingly large, giving you options (weapon spec, skills specializations etc) within each tree, allowing you to really work out how you want to uniquely build your character. Now here is the fun part.

Most games discourage cross skill leveling. Focus in this, and you will be better. KoA:R does the contrary. Should you want to be Might and Sorcery, you damn well can. As you level each tree, you are awarded these fate/destiny card doohickes, that give you added bones. Level up more than one tree, and you are awarded destiny cards specific to that combination of skills. Diversity achieved. This makes combat very special from person to person, as I have yet to see two people play the same way, even when building the same tree or trees. Greater diversity, and flawless simplicity: Leveling done right! 

The story line.. weeeellll.. 
It's cool?

I think?

I keep forgetting what its about...

Oh right.. You are a hero who as come back from the dead, and now you are the only hope for the land. It's your job, as the one who can override Fate's decree to defeat the bad guys because you exist outside destiny. You choose your own story, Hero! 
I think I have heard this story before...
An RPG isn't complete without Scantily-Clad-Hot-Elf-Girl!
Now, all this is not to say it isn't interesting; being the one solitary being who can tell the gods to fuck off, and end all evil in the world (or whatever) is pretty empowering. I just found myself not wanting to care a lot. The (side) questing is a lot of fun, it has that MMO effect on you, making you want to level and level and level. So they pour quests on you like sweet sweet syrup and you can just drink it up. Only.. it becomes apparent that you are paying no heed to the main story. The only times I ever did a main quest is by accidentally stumbling on to it. (Ending stuff excluded). 

I would just be meandering towards little circles on my map, show up to one.. 
Wait a sec... I know you...
Shit! This is main story stuff. 

Isn't it? 

So yeah. It's way fun to play.. but kind of in that "I will never stop until I can one hit this giant like he were a mere bunny" sort of way. 

One big time flaw. This doesn't happen very often. In our accumulated 60+ hours of playtime (my roomie included) we have only seen this bug four times, but it's a pisser... 
Here is a craptastic video of the culprit in action from my phone because I was far to lazy to hook up the capture equipment

  • Fantastic combat that opens itself up to imagination and innovation. 
  • Huge numbers of quests lead to countless hours of game time, but detract from the main story a bit (Primarily, because the main story quests are no more exciting that the side quests.) 
  • A leveling system that encourages creativity, and unique implementation
  • Bastard Bug
So there ya have it. Totally worth the cash, if you're into RPGs, 'cause this game will last you, and is definitely fun to play. 

    Wednesday, February 15, 2012

    The Darkness II Review

    General George S. Patton once said, "Give me an army of West Point graduates and I'll win a battle. Give me the powers of an ancient, dark force from before time began and two demon heads on my shoulders and I'll win a war." I'm not making that up.* And he would have been right. The Darkness is an incredibly powerful force. History lessons aside, the big question was how it would stack up to the original game. We here at the O and E love the precursor and it sits comfortably in my personal top 10  favorite games list. So how does Darkness Dos fare?

    Two things are obvious pretty early on. The art style and the shooting mechanics. While the original had a very normal look to it, the sequel is designed to look like a comic book, which makes sense... because the Darkness is a comic. In fact, the feel is a little closer to that of the comics, but I'll get to that later. The new style isn't better or worse. It's just a matter of preference. I happen to like it more, but I can see how it would make things a tad too cartoony for some.The shooting is a bit harder to explain. For those of you who played the original Darkness, you might remember the shooting being a bit weird, but not in a bad way. It had an odd, fluent feel and Jackie, our protagonist, would reach his hands around obstacles to shoot if you were trying to take cover. It took some getting used to, but once you did it felt very natural. That has been replaced by a more conventional shooting style. I actually kind of miss the old aiming mechanics, but its loss doesn't take away from the game at all.This too comes down to preference. Don't think there aren't any clear improvements, though. The Darkness powers alone have been expanded on and improved.

    Also, this handsome devil.
     Unlike the first game, your darkness powers and abilities have taken on a bit of an RPG element. Killing people in different ways and eating hearts earns you varying levels of dark essence which you can use to unlock skills in four different skill trees. Most of the original abilities are back, such as hurling black holes and the darkness guns, only this time you have to buy them and they can all be upgraded. Yes, they were given to you at certain points in the original, but now you can get them as soon as you are capable. Being able to upgrade them is an even bigger bonus. You darkness guns, for example, are much better than they were in Darkness 1. Instead of equipping them, you activate them and a dark essence surrounds the guns you are currently wielding, which turns them into infinite ammo spewing death machines. You know, because sometimes guns aren't efficient enough with that. You can eventually upgrade the darkness guns to last longer, auto-aim when you are duel-wielding one handed weapons, and shoot through walls. Combining all of these things usually results in a room full of exploded bodies. And this is only one example. Even using the darkness heads works differently. The right bumper controls the right head, which you use for slashing in a horizontal or vertical fashion, and the left bumper controls the left head, which you use for picking up objects or people. And speaking of grabbing people, you can eventually execute them in four different ways, each of which has a different effect. One gives you more health, another gives you ammo, the third reduces the cooldown of some of your abilities, and the last creates a shield which the left head holds up in front of you. Oh, also, you can spit locusts at people. You get biblical up in this bitch.

    Unfortunately, you can't kill anyone's first born or inflict them with boils, but there is some crucifixion. Too soon?
     Naturally, doing all of this leads to supreme amounts of gore. And I mean SUPREME. While the first one had its moments (you did eat peoples' hearts), this game blows it out of the water. People explode, get ripped apart from having each leg torn in the other direction, have their spines ripped from out of their asses; it's fucking glorious. Of course, the gore isn't the focus. It's merely the icing on the cake of perhaps the most important element. The story.

    Whichever darkness head gets the bigger half gets to make a wish.
    While the story is still strong, it plays out a bit differently. For one, the open-world element of the original is gone, with linear gameplay taking its place. While this is a negative, there are moments when you get to walk around your penthouse and talk to people. One character, Dolpho, let's you play minigames where you shoot bottles and pigeons. I'm still waiting for PETA to get all pissy about the latter. You also get to look at the artifacts you've collected throughout the game in a tidy case while a new character, Johnny, tells you about them. His voice actor is amazing by the way. But what makes a good story doesn't lie in whether or not it's open world. It lies in the writing, characters, and plot, and Darkness II certainly delivers. The story is a bit more comic-booky this time around with more supernatural elements and connections to the actual comics. One example is constant mention of the Angelus. However, the big question on the minds of everyone who played the original was if they could possible pull off something as emotional as the scenes with Jenny from the first game, because you know (spoiler) she's dead. The answer is not quite, but they get damn close. This time around, your interactions with Jenny take place through visions Jackie has, that have more behind them than you would think at first, and seeing her in an asylum. I'm not going to explain the asylum at all because it would give too much away. In any case, your moments with her bring out a sense of emotional loss that I rarely feel in games. Of course, playing the original and actually seeing her die makes up a large part of that. At one point, the game tells you to press X to let go of her. There is no time limit and you can do it when you want, but despite how simplistic that action is, it's way deeper than you would think. The game doesn't let go for you. It makes YOU let go. And by that point, you won't want to. It's little things like this that make the Darkness II one of the most emotionally involving games I've played since the original, and that came out in 2007. Oh, and the game also gives emotional weight to the darkling that follows you around and fights for you. Unlike the first game, there is only one darkling and he is always there with you in the combat sections of the game. He also has a personality and a connection to Jackie. I'm not going to give anything away, but they make you care about that little guy.

    Look at the little scamp.
     This leads us back to the original question. Is it better than the original. The answer is yes. Yeah, the linear gameplay isn't as good, the story is too short, and nothing ever hit me as hard as Jenny's death, but two is an improvement over one in literally every other way. There's also a new game plus mode which is incredibly fun because you start the game out as death incarnate. Unfortunately, I never got around to playing the multiplayer mode, but I hear it's pretty good and has it's own unique story. The main game itself is enough to earn your purchase, however, and I couldn't recommend it more.

    9 out of 10

    *I'm totally making that up.

    Monday, February 6, 2012

    We Has New Games!

    Heya, kiddos.

    Sorry we have been silent, we are currently residing in what is known in the industry as a "butt-load-amount of non-creativity, produced by an imagination syphoning brain monkey named Frank." also known as a dry spell, for you who aren't so versed in the journalistic world.

    I'm totally not making this stuff up.

    maybe I am.

    Anyway, new games! Tomorrow(tonight) we get DarknessII and Kingdoms of Amalur! Both of which look to be very good games, and I recommend at least checking them out. If you are wary, DarknessII demo is currently on XBLA, and it should assuage any fears you may hold, while giving you new ones! MUAHAHAHA

    So yeah. reviews. They will be here. Soon.. or something.

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