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Sunday, March 1, 2015

Resident Evil Revelations 2 - Episode 1 - (PC): Impressions (Survival Ho...


Resident Evil Revelations 2 is the second entry to the Revelations series. This time around you'll be taking control of Claire Redfield of RE2, and Barry of RE1. Unlike other Resident Evils, this one is episodic and this first episode will run you around 2-4 hours depending on how you'll play. Both campaign of Claire and Berry are relatively similar in length.

While playing as Claire you'll also be joined by Moira, Barry's daughter, and while playing as Barry you'll be joined by Natalia, a mysterious little girl who he runs into. Both campaigns you'll be playing as 2 characters at once, allowing the player to switch when ever s/he wants. Berry and Claire will be the offensive characters that will be doing the majority of the shooting, while Moira can provide support through locating hidden objects with a flash light, as well as blinding enemies with it as well. Natalia will serve the purpose of getting into smaller areas and the strange ability to locate enemies through walls. Though it's an interesting idea to play as 2 characters at once, the game has some issues executing this mechanic well. The AI controlled partner isn't all that smart, often times taking hits unnecessarily, or at worst, standing around doing nothing at all. Couple the poor AI with the fact that the game didn't launch with online co-op and we have some frustrating moments. The partner system in this game is something I kind of wish they didn't include.

The game is also riddled with technical problems. Frame drops, raid mode not loading for some people with out switching Steam to offline mode, assorted bugs, odd AI behavior, it's sort of a technical mess to be honest. Luckily these issues can be patched out, and hopefully in the near future Capcom will address these serious issues with the PC port.

For fans of the first Revelations who enjoyed the simplification of it's mechanics, bringing it back to how it felt in the RE4 days, Revelations 2 may disappoint. It suffers some of the same issues as RE6, in that the game feels much too actiony, and a lot less like the classic REs. It's like Capcom forgot why people enjoyed Revelations 1 in the first place, and is repeating the same mistakes made in RE6.

Luckily for us it's not all doom and gloom. There are aspects of RE:Rev2 that is very enjoyable. The story is one of the better ones to come out of the Resident Evil Series. Moira is a welcome addition to the RE cast of characters, as she's a flawed, innocent, young girl, who was in unwittingly thrown into a dire situation. The game explores the personal conflicts of each character, especially Moira and for the first time in a long time in RE, the series shows some real character depth in it's story. The game's raid mode, though a bit buggy at the moment, is very enjoyable. It'll feature an enjoyable progression system that's almost Diablo-like where you'll be grinding for XP, skill points, and random loot. It has a ton of potential for replay and it also includes a bunch of enemy types and maps that are exclusive to just raid mode. It's a fun distraction from the main campaign, and you can clearly tell the devs have sunk a lot of time and love into it's design.

Overall I can't recommend RE:Rev2. There simply are just too much technical hitches, couple that with the lack of online co-op, and a partner system that feels more like a chore than fun, I feel this is a flawed entry into the series. It pains me as I write this as I am a huge RE fan, and have been looking forward to this game for a long time. Let's hope for a better second episode.

Pros:
- Good Story, welcomed new additions to the RE cast
- Raid mode is fun (if you can get it working)
- Cheap price of entry (if you only want the first episode)

Cons:
- A laundry list of technical flaws, from frame drops, to raid mode not launching
- Poorly implemented partner system
- Does not capture the same spirit of Revelations 1
- Repeats problems that RE:Zero and RE:6 has

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Resident Evil Revelations 2 on Steam
http://store.steampowered.com/app/287290/

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Dead Effect: Impressions


Dead Effect is what many would consider "that generic zombie fps", but that doesn't automatically make it bad. You get tossed into an arena based level, full filling the objective listed in each mission. Before you head out the game offers you the opportunity to purchase and upgrade your weaponry. It's a very arcady FPS that knows exactly what it is and makes no illusion to it's identity.

I wouldn't go into Dead Effect expecting a full narrative experience from games like Bioshock or Wolfenstian last order. The story is pretty bad, and the voice acting even worst, but where the game shines is it's excellent feeling run and gun gameplay. There is a fair variety of firearms to use, and they all feel great! Excellent visual and audio feedback on each shot, classic and challenging difficulty scaling, it's generic FPS done right!

Dead Effect has it's origins in mobile tablet gaming and the Steam version is basically an upresed version of the mobile original. They've done a pretty good job of upresing, as the texture quality is quite good, as well as the lighting, showing a good amount of visual fidelity. Where it takes a hit in the visuals is it's lower polycount models used, due to it being on mobile originally, and the menu screen has too much left overs from it's origins, with big unnecessary buttons. As far as visuals are concerned, it does a passable job as a PC port.

Dead Effect probably won't be the very best FPS you'll ever play, nor is it very original, but what it does it does very well. It's gameplay, though generic, is designed well for maximum entertainment in shorter burst play time. At it's price of $5 there's not too much to complain about. If you're looking for an entertaining but cheap action FPS, and don't mind it being some what flawed in comparison to it's competitors, Dead Effect is a very viable choice.

Pros:
- Excellent feeling run and gun gameplay
- Multiple game modes to play
- Brings FPS back to it's roots of run and gun
- More than fair asking price

Cons:
- Unoriginal
- Terrible voice acting
- Left over Mobile UI




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Dead Effect on Steam
http://store.steampowered.com/app/286040/

Monday, February 23, 2015

I open 60 packs of cards in Hearthstone. Is Hearthstone P2W?

I've heard it said that Hearthstone is pay to win (P2W).

There was a 30% off sale on Amazon and I decided to find out for myself. One would think $55 is a solid enough chunk of change to drop on a "free" online card game.

I've put many hours into Hearthstone, so I rationalize this move by telling myself  things like "I've enjoyed this game enough to contribute some real money to it" and "I'm helping other players by taking the plunge for them"

I've recorded the experience.



The statistical break down of cards is as follows.

rare 64 x 20 = 1280
common 219 x5 = 1095
epic 10 x 100 = 1000
legendary 3 x 400 = 1200

golds
common 4 x 50 = 200
rare 2 x 100 = 200

total dust = 4975

0.90$ per 100 dust

So a legendary costs about $14.40 worth of dust to craft.
I ask you, Is that pay to win?
One or 2 legendaries does not a good deck make. You need a solid foundation of rares, commons, potentially epics to make a competitive Hearthstone decks.

*However*

There are many competitive decks that can be created for much less than 4975 dust.
You can find multitudes of these decks at www.hearthpwn.com. Where the dust cost of a deck is clearly listed. 
Having one strong deck isn't really good enough as the daily quests are randomly generated. Put all your dust into one great Warrior deck? Now you only getting non-warrior quests.

Should you spend 50+ dollars on packs of cards? A resounding NO is appropriate.
The cash to card ratio is incredibly poor unless you have a lucky horseshoe in your rear-end.
I don't believe Hearthstone is Pay to win. It's an enjoyable game with a very slow progression.
Pumping money into it won't yield powerful results, so save your cash.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Tower Of Guns: Quick Look


Tower of Guns is an interesting game that melds the fast paced, twitch based action of the FPS genre with the high intensity and replayability of roguelikes. You'll be going through dungeon to dungeon, shooting a bunch of stuff while avoiding ridiculously giant sized bullets and bombs.

Tower of Guns feature a very interesting illustrative look when it comes to it's texture and overall style. If you've played the Borderlands series, it'll be very familiar to you. Visually the game scream with style and it'll probably be one of the more memorable elements to the game.

My only complaints is that the button prompts are made for consoles, so when using keyboard and mouse in the PC, it's hard to tell what button you should push to activate the prompt. Also some of the audio feedback from your bullets connecting to enemies seem a underwhelming in comparison to the exaggerated and highly stylized explosion that it produces.

Overall Tower of Guns is a pretty interesting take on the FPS genre. If you're into Quake or Unreal Tournament, but want a twitch based FPS with some roguelike flavors, then Tower of Guns should fullfill that need.

Pros:
- Wonderfully stylized aesthetic
- Very replayable
- Easy to understand and get into
- Very twitchy and fast paced

Cons:
- Button Prompts set up for consoles and not PC
- Some audio sound effects underwhelming





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Tower of Guns on Steam:
http://store.steampowered.com/app/266110//

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Hand of Fate : Impressions


Hand of Fate melds roguelike(lite) with action adventure, and even some CCG elements. You, a figure on the board, will be traversing through a dungeon made of cards. As you land on each card it'll reveal a new event. These events are varied, and can range from loot drops, to enemy encounters, or even a quest, just to name a few. It's a very interesting take on the genre.

Hand of Fate features incredible visual aesthetics. The dealer, the table, the cards, almost all aspects of the game is masterly designed, and executed with incredible technical finesse. The game is gorgeous visually, and the audio, though subtle, is very memorable and suiting to the game. The dealer is voice acted well, and there's a snarky charisma about him. He's a likable character, and that's good, because you'll be with him for the majority of the game.

Mechanically it seems so simple. A card based roguelike where the deal of the cards IS the RNG system. Once you play the game you'll be wondering why it took so long for some one to come up with this concept. It seems so obvious and fitting once it's played. The game also offers a great deal of meta gaming and offer a fair amount of complexity for players who like to dive into the nuance of a game.

Though there is plenty to love about Hand of Fate, there is one area that seems lacking, or even uninspired in comparison to the rest of it. The combat. The combat will play out very similar to say the Batman Arkham games, where there's an attack, a dodge, stun, and counter button. You'll be mashing that attack and stun over and over again until either the counter or dodge prompts come up. Like I said, very similar to the Batman games. Though it shows some similarities to other games, it's not as smooth, and feels rather stiff and clunky by comparison. It's certainly not my favorite part of the game. Luckily for us, the combat is not the center ring of this, and it's very much a side mechanic, used to enhance the true character of the game, the procedurally generated dungeon running.

Overall, Hand of Fate is a fantastic entry to the roguelike(lite) genre, that introduces some very interesting concepts that seem to fit right in. If you're interested in the game, I think I can safely recommend the buy!

Pros:
- Brilliantly conceptualized in themeing
- Great Graphics
- Excellent genre blending
- Addictive gameplay with lots of instinctive to replay

Cons:
- Combat, though not terrible, feels sluggish and uninspired compared to the rest of the game
- Lacking in the options menu



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Hand of Fate on Steam
http://store.steampowered.com/app/266510/

Monday, February 16, 2015

Freaking Meatbags: Impressions


Freaking Meatbags is an interesting take on RTS tower defense. It has all the expected elements from the genre, but throw in the mixing of genes, creating whole new humanoid creatures with special traits like laser eyes, or an extra pair of arms, and you got some thing kind of special.

In Freaking Meatbags, you'll be spending plenty of time defending your base, but there is a character progression system as well. You'll be leveling up each of your worker, or "Meatbags", you can even equip a variety of gear to improve them, whether it be jetpacks to move faster, or rocket launchers to help you defend and attack. You can also buy and upgrade new devices to produce during missions, and even upgrade the ship that house your crew. Freaking Meatbags offers a variety of game mechanics to keep the simple idea of defending a base interesting, and deep.

Even with the number of things to min-max, and meta-game, Freaking Meatbags is pretty easy to understand and jump into. The tutorial levels are paced well, and speaking as a player who don't play a lot of games from this genre, I can say it didn't take too long for me to "get it". The game does a good job at balancing complex mechanics for the "hardcore" player, while keeping it simple that I think even "casuals" can get a lot of enjoyment out of.

Though the game is a lot of fun, it could use a better options menu. It's practically devoid of any settings out side of the very bare bones basics. There's also no other features, play mode, or multiplayer. The single player campaign is all you'll be getting from my experience. Luckily, the main campaign so far seems satisfying enough for it's asking price, for what's there, is really enjoyable.

Pros:
- Good pixel art style
- Great sense of humor
- Well balanced in accessibility and complexity
- The DNA system in this game is fantastic

Cons:
- Lacks options
- Lacks Features
- No multiplayer





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Freaking Meatbags on Steam
http://store.steampowered.com/app/297060

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Sine Mora: Quick Look



Sine Mora is a gorgeous SHMUP with some interesting ideas. As you play through the game you'll get upgrades but if you get hit, instead of intent death like others in the genre, you lose those upgrades. The game does allow you a fair amount of time to regain them, as without any upgrades at all, you will get killed on the next hit. The real challenge is the timer. The timer is always ticking down, and only through clearing stages or killing enemies will it replenish. In a sense, the timer is your life bar.

Sine Mora is one of the best looking game in the genre. It features amazing art design, bright and vibrant colors, and cinematic lighting to really push it's visuals. The audio design is equally worth praising with a gret sound track that is appropriate for the game's setting.

Though Sine Mora explore some interesting ideas mechanically it's not the most challenging game in the genre. Don't get me wrong here, it's plenty difficult at times, but in comparison to others in the SHMUP category, it can be considered easier than them.

Overall Sine Mora is a great SHMUP with amazing visuals and some interesting mechanics. If you're a fan of the genre, this is a must play. An easy recommendation!

Pros:
- Beautiful art and visuals
- Unique timer based SHMUP
- Accessible, but still offers a satisfying degree of challenge

Cons:
- Hardcores to the genre may find Sine Mora less challenging than others in the genre



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Sine Mora on Steam:
http://store.steampowered.com/app/207040/