Aldershot

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The Luckiest T-Shirt

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MichaelBtheGameGenie

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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Postal 2 Paradise Lost: Impressions


Postal 2 Paradise Lost is an expansion to an eleven year old game. Not often this happens but I think it was a pretty interesting and a smart idea by Running with Scissors. Postal 2 was definitely their greatest hit, and with Postal Three being panned by both critics and fans a like, Paradise Lost proves to be a worth wild experiment.

Paradise Lost being an expansion to an eleven year old game, there's going to be some issues that comes with that. The most obvious one is the visuals. Since it's not a remaster, It definitely looks dated. Also, since it's an expansion, it needs to remain consistent to it's base game. Because of this, it uses eleven year old design philosophy. There's no iron sights, no reload, and the player can carry what seems to be a fright truck's worth of inventory. To newer gamer's this might actually be a charming factor, as games today simply don't feature what feels like dinosaur mechanics. Though it comes with a cost, which is the overall gameplay. The gun play is obviously lacking, and if you don't voluntarily cause mayhem as you play, it does turn into something of a walking simulator.

With all that said, luckily for the game, the gameplay and visuals are probably not the incentive for most who would be interested. What Postal 2 Paradise Lost does well is it's humor, and the amount of room it gives the player to goof off. Although it's not required to cause chaos as you play, Postal 2 Paradise Lost fills the world with open levels and a ton of tools and NPCs for the player to play around with. The game gives the player a huge amount of inventory space to give incentive to play in the sandbox. Wasting a few rockets for no reason carry little penalties as sequences where you'll require the lost ammo to accomplish a boss fight, is often littered around those areas. The tools provided for the player to play with are as absurd as the concept of the game. Diseased cow heads, hedge clippers, a d!ldo grenade, hell, you can even unzip your pants, and urinate on people to "stun" your opponents, causing them to vomit in place.

The game also features a no apology approach to black comedy. It's not afraid to poke fun at touchy subjects, make jokes that the more sensitive would find offensive, and simply put, is lewd, crude, and rude. For any one who's sick of all the politically correct games out there, Postal 2: Paradise lost will be a nice refresher. It's also really interesting to see the Postal brand of humor being applied to more current themes and subjects. When you see a certain famous journalist prancing around the game that's eleven years old, it's almost a surreal feeling. Just a PSA though: If you ARE one who has a steak of being offended by entertainment, stay away. Stay away for the sake of your own sanity.

Overall Postal 2 Paradise Lost is a hilarious trip down memory lane. It keeps to the spirit of the original Postal 2, and succeeds in reproducing the magic that captivated audiences those eleven years ago. Those who like their comedy raunchy, and their gameplay chaotic, Paradise Lost will not disappoint.

Pros:
- Hilariously offensive
- Tons of room and tools to experiment with in causing mayhem
- Charismatic characters and story
- Captures the essence of the original Postal 2

Cons:
- Dated Graphics
- Dated Mechanics
- Not for every one

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Turmoil: Quick Look

To break Turmoil down quickly, it's a business oil tycoon simulation, that distills sim mechanics to the basics.

In Turmoil, the game feature upgrade options to better your oil drilling business while competing with other tycoons for land and resources. The goal is to make as much money as possible, as you would expect from these kinds of games. 

The mechanics are simple enough. You have a town phase, where each tycoon get an opportunity to upgrade and buy new equipment, get loans from banks, and even do some underhanded business dealings, bribing prominent members of the community. Once that's set, each tycoon will bid on their plot of land, each tycoon can out bid each other, if there's a valuable plot available, adding an extra layer of competitiveness. Once all the pre planning is complete, you'll head out and start digging for oil. 

Digging for Oil is very simple. Just hire some dossers to find hidden plots of oil, then lay down some drills to start digging. Hire some horse and buggy to transport your oil to what ever company is paying the most. The strategy is a mix of hide and seek, as you look for more oil plots, and business management, as it requires a delicate balance of profit, time, and costs.

Turmoil's visuals are definitely bright and cheery, but it does have a distinct frontier look, with an audio to match. It's of a fairly simple design, with a minimalist art design. It might not be appreciated by all gamers, but I found it to be charming.

Turmoil is fairly addictive, and found there to be a decent amount of content to play through, but I did find it a bit repetitive. Each excursion plays almost exactly the same, with only your purchased upgrades making any difference. Once you find a groove, a set of actions you find most efficient, you'll be sticking to the same strategy through out the game. 

Turmoil overall was a pretty fun romp. A great little simulation game to break away from other main staples of the genre. Though the game can get repetitive, it does offer a decent serving for the player.

Pros:
- A decent size game
- Simple and easy to learn

Cons:
- Repetitive

Saturday, June 13, 2015

ARK Survival Evolved: Impressions


Ark is an open world survival sandbox with dinosaurs in Early Access. Though there have been others with a similar concept in the past, Ark is by far the most ambitous of the bunch.

In Art you have your usual tasks from the survival sandbox genre. You run around gathering simple materials such as rocks, and wood, and from that you'll make your first simple tool. From there you can start crafting some simple structures. It's pretty usual stuff for the genre, but Ark has a few tricks up it's sleeves to set itself apart. There's a large focus on training dinosaurs in this game. Once trained there are a nice few things you can do with them. You can sadle them up and ride them for more efficient transportation, have them follow you like a watch dog, and even mate them with others. You can raise an army of dinos who will follow you into combat while you mount your favorite one. It's even possible to mount teradactols, allowing the player to experiance flight!

Ark also features an interesting progression system as well. Each level you gain you'll be able to level up one of your main stats and be rewarded points that go towards unlocking more advnaced recipes. Crafting is on a progressive scale, much like your level. As you gain higher levels, more advnaced recipes will become available. It's a nice system, as it gives the player a sense of progress and something clear to strive for.

The graphics are quality as well. The game features extremly high fedelity enviroments, with great looking textures and models, highlighted by some amazing lighting and effects. The sound design is also quite nice with beliveable roars from the dinos around you.

Though Ark has a ton to offer even in it's early access form, the game isn't with out problems. At the moment the main concern is performance. Due to the game's extremely high fedelity, the game dosn't run very well on low-mid teir machines. I had to fiddle around with the exe file and a bunch of Nvidia setting to get even 20 FPS out of the game. It has been making incrimental improvements, but the majority of the problem still persist as of this impression. Another critique I have is Ark could use a tutorial. I didn't have too much of an issue jumping into the game, but only because I've played my share of survival games. For those who are new to the genre, Ark does nothing for those players. There's no tutorial, no guide, not even popup help tips. It just throws the player into the middle of a jungle and hope for the best. Hopefully a proper tutorial will be added before the release of the game out of early access.

Overall Ark is an extremely enjoyable survival game that puts the dinos in the fore front of it's features. The game is ambitious and the content feels very satasfying. It just needs to run smoother, a LOT smoother.

Pros:
- Dinosaurs are varied and intrical to the game's design
- A pile of content right from day one!
- Enjoyable progression system

Cons:
- Performance needs a major overhaul
- No tutorial for new players


Brontosaurus! 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4BGM...

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ARK Survival Evolved on Steam
http://store.steampowered.com/app/346...

ARK Survival Evolved official web site
http://www.playark.com/

ARK Survival Evolved hours played: 17

Completion Status on ARK Survival Evolved: N/A

This copy of ARK Survival Evolved was gifted on Steam.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Axiom Verge: Impressions




Axiom Verge takes classic Metroidvania gameplay and brings it into the modern age while keeping true to it's inspiration.

Axiom Verge has all the trappers of classic games from this genre. Tons of weapons and items to be found, hidden treasures tucked away in breakable walls, and an emphasis on map exploration and item experimentation. The game captures the spirit of it's inspirations perfectly. While playing Axiom Verge I was instantaneously brought back to my youth, shooting at every wall I saw, hoping for a new rocket upgrade. It loosk, and plays, exactly like old Metroid or Castlevania games, while managing to keep itself feeling too much like a carbon copy. The game also seem to be quite lengthy as well. I've played over 4.5 hours and my save file says I've only unlocked 29% of the game and 18% of the items, which suggest I still have a lot of game left.

The game's art design is fantastic. The pixel art is crisp and sharp, perfectly rendered for modern hardware, while it retains it's classic 8-16bit style. Unlike other pixel indie games, where the pixel art are often more of an artistic interpenetration of the classics classic than a representation of it's inspirations, Axiom Verge is a true representation of what classic pixels could look today. The game also features a fantastic sound track that is well suited to the atmosphere and it's overall presentation is simply perfectly conceptualized to reflect the game's retro heritage.

If I was to critique the game for any thing (which I will of course), I would say the weapon balance is a bit off. Out of the 5 weapons I currently have I only use 2 regularly. The other weapons feel like fluff, to boost the game's list of features with out having much merit when in practice. I also find the game's death penalty to be rather light since there's no limit on lives or continue, and no currency to lose, it simply just send you back to your last save point. The penalty for death is so light, that it can often be abused as a short cut, killing yourself to reach a point of the map with out having to run back.

Overall Axiom Verge is a fantastic retro throwback to a time gone by, and it does it while modernizing it for current players with out sacrificing the spirit of it's inspirations. Axiom Verge is a very easy recommendation for any one interested in playing a modern retro game.

Pros:
- Plays very well, and very true to it's retro inspirations
- Large game!
- Great pixel art and sound track
- Lots of secrets to uncover

Cons:
- Unbalanced weapons
- Death Penalty too light and exploitable


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Axiom Verge on Steam
http://store.steampowered.com/app/332200/

Axiom Verge official web site
http://www.axiomverge.com/

Axiom Verge hours played: 4.5

Completion Status on Axiom Verge: Incomplete

This copy of Axiom Verge was purchased on Steam.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Hatred: Impressions



Hatred is an isometric shooter where you play as a psychopath who's out to murder thousands of people. The premise is simple, but also the very thing that garnered the game so much attention. The game plays well enough, and it's quite violent, but at the same time, I feel the media has made the game out to be worst than it actually is.

Each level of Hatred will provide it's own challenge and goals, many are quite linear, but there are missions where it takes a more open world sandbox approach. As far as gameplay goes, it's your standard issue isometric shooter. You can run, perform executions to replenish your HP, crouch, pick up new weapons, etc, basically, standard fare. One thing Hatred introduces to this genre is the idea of killing innocent NPCs. In other games where the option to kill innocent NPCs are made available, they rarely give the player any incentive to partake in the action, but Hatred doesn't just give incentive, it makes it the main point. The issue with this is, shooting NPCs that can't fight back is really boring! After a while, the police, swat, and military will show up, which makes the game a lot more enjoyable and interesting, but there are some missions where a large portion of it, is rather dull, gunning down hundreds of unarmed NPCs that offer no challenge what so ever.

Artistically the game has it nailed down. It's heavily stylized with it's black and white aesthetics. Pops of red and blue are the only colors that line the game. The lighting and environments look great, brooding and gritty, very appropriate to the atmosphere. Hatred also features a low, brooding sound track, that never over powers, but adds a ton to the mood. It also features a physics engine that is sure to impress, as gun fire breaks away the walls that surround you. It's a great looking game! But be aware, the game can be buggy at times with NPCs flipping out, cars floating in the air, and other weird oddities.

For all it's controversy, Hatred is not the worst on the market. Mortal Kombat is gorier, Hotline Miami is more violent, and Postal 2 was more psychotic. The ONLY thing that set Hatred apart from the other games mentioned is that you play as a the villain that takes place in a (some what) realistic world. Basically, Hatred is controversial by concept only, the content of the game really isn't even a quarter as disturbing as the media would have you believe.

Overall Hatred is a competent isometric shooter that has an edgy theme to it. The gameplay itself is nothing special or revolutionary but does the trick. The controversy surrounding this game is way overblown, and dosn't deserve the AO rating (M would be appropriate). At the end of the day, Hatred isn't bad, but it's nothing special either.

Pros:
- Great looking style
- Competent gameplay
- Challenging (Once the police shows up)

Cons:
- Does nothing new or special in terms of gameplay
- Shooting NPCs that don't fight back can get boring.




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Hatred on Steam
http://store.steampowered.com/app/341940/

Hatred official web site
http://www.destructivecreations.pl/

Hatred hours played: 4

Completion Status on Hatred: Incomplete

This copy of Hatred was purchased on Steam.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Sym: Quick Look


Sym is an interesting puzzle platformer that utilizes both the negative and positive space in the level design.

You'll be trying to get from point A to point B, but there are multiple dangers and obstacles to over come in each map. From dangerous saws to man eating plants, there is a fair amount of things to avoid. But other than dangerous obstacles, the game will require the player to think about using both the positive and negative space to traverse the world. If you find a ledge too high, go into the negative space where gravity is also reversed. Through that, you'll be able to reach platforms that would otherwise be unreachable. It's a bit of a fresh take on puzzle platformers, and the positive / negative space mechanic is smartly designed.

Aesthetically the game has a very interesting style. Every thing is rendered in a black and white, almost pencil sketch look, with a very surreal design behind it. The music is pleasant and suiting to the armosphere. It's a pretty good looker with out stressing out your machine.

Though Sym is a pretty satisfying puzzler with some unique ideas, it's not perfect. There are some serious quality of life issues that needs to be addressed. The game feels like it would suit a gamepad perfectly, yet has no gamepad support what so ever. There's also minimal options for the player to tune, and the resolution isn't in proper 1080p. These issues feel like short comings and mar the overall quality to the game.

Overall Sym is an interesting puzzler with a unique look. The levels are satisfying to solve, though the game could use some better features and options.

Pros:
- Unique positive / negative space mechanic
- Interesting surreal look
- Good soundtrack

Cons:
- No gamepad support
- Poor options




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Sym on Steam:
http://store.steampowered.com/app/342100/

Sym official website:
http://www.atraxgames.com/sym/

Sym hours played at recording: 1

Completion Status on Sym: Incomplete

This copy of Sym given by the developers for review

Friday, May 22, 2015

Steredenn: Quick Look


Steredenn is a shmup (shoot'em up) with a very interesting idea. Let's throw some RNG (random) level into the mix! You'll be going through proceedrally generated levels shooting up bad guys and avoiding bullets in a tough as nails challenge level.

The game features wonderfully rendered pixel art, with a great metal sound track to add that additional bit of attitude. As far as presentation is concerned I have little to complain about.

Steredenn is pretty standard fare as far as shmups are concerned. Shoot things, don't get shot, get them pick ups, and don't die! What set Steredenn apart from it's competitors is it's RNG nature. Most shmups have consistent levels and encounters. It's often designed this way for this genre because shmups are traditionally a very player skill oriented genre, and consistency is often needed in skill orientated activities. Steredenn throws that out the window and offer replayablity over consistency, with new encounters each play through. 

Overall Steredenn is a very enjoyable shmup, with great aesthetics and sound, and I can't wait to see the game progress further.

Pros:
- Excellent Pixel art presentation
- Great sound track
- RNG makes this shmup a little unique
- Addictive and challenging

Cons:
- Low on content
- RNG could make the learning curve more difficult than other shmups.



Follow me on Twitter:
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Follow me on Steam:
http://store.steampowered.com/curator/7134938/
http://steamcommunity.com/groups/aldershot8008

Steredenn on Steam:
http://store.steampowered.com/app/347160/

Steredenn official website:
http://steredenn.pixelnest.io/

Steredenn hours played at recording: 2

Completion Status on Steredenn: Incomplete

This copy of Steredenn given by the developers for review