Sunday, January 09, 2011

A Cataclysmic Change

About the game:  This is the 3rd expansion for World of Warcraft (the other 2 being The Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King) and it is the one that changes the old world from the original game (for the better).

Controls:  These have not changed since the first game and if you have ever played a massive multiplayer game its pretty standard fare.

Graphics:  This aspect of the game has changed quite a bit since the last expansion and for the better. For a game that had pretty mediocre graphics when it first came out, this game looks quite awesome when at higher settings. The shadows, colors, textures all are superb.

Sound:  Blizzard has always been pretty good about sound and this expansion is no exception, they redid the music for quite a bit of the old world and added a ton of new music to the new zones. The music is always very good at setting the mood and very epic at times as well.

Gameplay:  Blizzard has decided to revamp the old world and at the same time make the early leveling experience a much smoother and better experience. Almost every zone has changed and even if the zone has not changed graphically, it has changed leveling wise. You will no longer be jumping from a zone in the south to a zone in the north. Each zone leads to the next without any issue. Almost every zone has a story that really takes the leveling experience to a new level (Go to Westfall and Redridge for examples of this).

There are 2 new races and like the new class that was added last expansion the starting zones have been done with a fine tuned comb. The new races are Goblin for horde and Worgen for Alliance. They are some of the best examples of unique experiences and new types of quests to be found in this game.

The only issue really is that once you leave the old world and enter Outlands leveling is not as smooth or quick. Of course, this just leaves the game open to a new expansion.

If your are level 80 then you also have a very linear experience, though you will using your home city as a hub to get to each of the new zones. The new zones are just like the old zones in that they are done very well and have a story that makes the experience awesome.

The 5 man dungeons are very well done and blizzard made every dungeon now have quests inside to make finding the quest giver easy. The heroic versions of the new 5 mans are no joke and some of them will be very difficult to PUG. I would not recommend it unless you want to wipe for hours on end.

The new raid instances so far have proven easy (though coming from a guild that has killed HLK anything would be easy) but we have only gotten about 6 bosses on normal so far. Some of them have unique mechanics, but nothing that I have found super awesome.

In the end the game is the same standard lvl, instance, loot, but its still very addicting and very fun. I did not mention the pvp portion of the game, because I have not experienced it first hand, but I hear that it is quite good as well.

If your new to wow, the game will be that much better. If you are an old timer you'll find some very welcome changes.

Verdict: Playworthy!!!

Monday, December 06, 2010

Black Ops

This review is going to be about the multiplayer aspect of COD: Black Ops for the PC.

About the game:  This is your standard new fps where you control your person in a first person point of view. You have a variety of weapons you can choose to spawn with and if you look down the sights of the weapon you get better accuracy.

Controls: Your standard fps controls. Mouse fires/looks down sights. WSAD move around. Etc...

Graphics: The graphics were ok, I found Modern Warfare 2 to have much higher quality graphics, but as I understand it the graphics in black ops were very similar to world at war which was made by the same developer.

Sound:  Sound can be very important in a first person shooter and in this game it really is pretty awesome. Great music and sound effects for when you are listening for that grenade that fell near you.

Gameplay: The game borrows quite heavily from previous COD's but there is quite a bit of variety here to make it unique. 

Firstly everyone can rest easy the dedicated servers are back and its a welcome change to the system that was in place for Modern Warfare 2. While, the game had quite a few issues when it came out (see below), it was still an incredibly engaging and addicting online experience.

The game follows like MW2 where you gain experience as you kill other players or complete objectives. As you gain levels you unlock a variety of new weapons, decals, and a whole bunch of skins for your weapons. The difference here is that you pay for these rather than just unlocking them and being able to use them.

As you level you will gain these points which are used to purchase the unlockables. It is not difficult to gain points, but it will be difficult to master the variety of weapons available for purchase. The higher level you attain the better the rewards (generally true, but not always). Once you reach the max level you can choose to lose all your unlockables but gain an extra character slot this is called prestige. 

Now character slots work as follows: You can deck out a total of 5 characters (as you reach the max level you can choose to lose your unlockables you can gain an extra character slot, you can do this 5  times to gain an extra 5 character slots). with a mishmash of weapons. The thing is, that once you choose, you cannot change while in a game, this can only be done outside of a game.

Your character will have 2 weapons, a variety of grenades and what are called perks. These perks are generally something that go against the norm in the game. They allow you to hit harder or run for a longer period of time or even allow you to take less damage. 

Also, the more kills you get in a row the better the killstreak reward is. You choose these for each character slot and they range from a helpful crate dropped from sky to a seat in a chopper. You can have a max of 3 per character slot.

Challenges will help you level quicker and will not be lost when you prestige. Each weapon has a variety of challenges and as you complete one, more open up. For weapons they generally mean you need to get x number of kills with the weapon, but everything in the game has a challenge associated with it. They give you experience or unlock something new for you as you complete them.

The game has a variety of modes, but the newest and coolest mode are the wager matches where you wage a certain amount of your points and try to compete against others in some cool modes. One in the Chamber is the coolest mode, where each player is armed with a pistol with 1 bullet and a knife. As you kill others you get another bullet.

There is plenty more to the game, but you will just have to discover it all for yourself!

I had quite a few technical issues with the game but, I was not alone in having these issues. I felt that the game might have not been tested quite as much as it should have. There was quite a bit of stuttering occurring during gameplay, not to mention the fact that the game would cause my internet connection to drop. These did not stop me from playing, and I do think Treyarch worked out most of the bugs/glitches.

Verdict: Playworthy!!!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Comic Mayhem is Back!

About the game:  You create a team of worms that will have wacky voices. You play as that team and use weapons to destroy the other team. 

Controls:Seemed like the same controls of the classic worms games.

Graphics: Its a worms game, there are little worms on the screen that talk and shoot rockets, not much more to say than that.

Sound:  Awesome sounds, awesome music. 

Gameplay: The basic premise is supposed to be very humorous. You use wacky weapons combined with worms to destroy other worms. This is a throwback to the classic 2D Worms game from about 10 years ago (Worms Armageddon). There are quite a few modes here and quite a few weapons. 

The game is turn based. So to start a worm at random is chosen and you have to use that worm with his arsenal of weapons to destroy other worms. Whatever weapon you choose will do so and so amount of damage to whatever worm you are trying to destroy ( provided you hit that worm). Then the other team goes and it goes back and forth until one team is destroyed. The weapons range from the normal gernade to the crazy "holy hand gernade".

What makes the game so memorable are the wacky maps and voices the creators have put into the game. You can use the Old Man voice or the Irish voice. They all sound hilarious and there are tons to choose from. This is really what makes the game awesome. When the Old Man says "I feel like a teenager again" or "nobody loves me". You just cannot help but laugh.

The game is prices modestly at $19.99 on Steam and I suggest you pick it up if you want a throwback to a classic that is tons of fun to play.

Verdict: Playworthy!!!

Flying High

About the game:  Altitude is an indie game that is hard to categorize. Steam considers it an action game, but I am not sure it qualifies. The basic premise is you choose an airplane to control and depending on the level your in you have various objectives to complete.

Controls:  Fits the game well and nothing to say here other than the controls work well for the game.

Graphics: Cartoony graphics that have a worms feel to them. Fits the game well.

Sound:  I think the soundtrack for the game works very well with an uplifting and memorable score.

Gameplay: So as was stated above you choose an airplane and then have to complete an objective. There are 3 different modes of play. Plane Ball, Base Destruction and free for all.

Plane ball is basically soccer with planes. There is a ball and you have to score 6 times in the enemy goal to win the round.

Base Destruction has you carrying a bomb to the enemy base and using it to cause damage and ultimately destroy the base.

Free for all has you going up against the other planes and trying to destroy them. Whoever has the most kills at the end of the round (certain amount of time) wins.

As you try and complete these objectives you can use your planes weapons to destroy the other planes. To help you do this there are various perks that allow you to customize your planes. These range from shooting rockets to giving you extra armor.

There are 4 different planes to choose from and each of them has strengths and weaknesses. The loopy is incredibly fast but very easy to destroy, the bomber is hard to destroy but moves slowly. The differences are pretty straightforward and mastering each of them takes time.

The game has a training mode that introduces you to the various goings on in the game. The game has no single player as everything is online. There is a leveling system where you get xp for completing various tasks and when you reach different levels you can unlock new perks or new planes.

This is a pretty unique game and very fun and addictive. It only costs 10 bucks which is a bargain.

Verdict: Playworthy!!!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Super Metroid Sequel?

About the game: This is a very interesting Metroid game. For the first time ever Samus Aran talks. In fact she is the narrator of the story and is talking all throughout. The game also uses cut scenes quite a bit to advance the story and give you some cool cinematics. The game takes place directly after the events of Super Metroid and has you going aboard a giant ship to answer a distress call.

Controls: This is where the game is very different than the Prime series, instead of using both the wii remote and nunchuk. The game only uses the wii remote. You hold it horizontally about 90% of the time and use the dpad and buttons to do shoot or jump. In this mode the camera is located behind your char, and it is a objective perspective. So you can see your whole character. The other 10% of the time if you point the wii remote at the screen you go into a first person view where you can look around and shoot your missles. It is very weird at first but once you get the hang of it, it becomes pretty fluid switching between the two modes.

Graphics: The graphics are not gonna blow you away, but I thought the cinematic's were very good. Especially the opening with Mother Brain.

Sound: I felt the sound was good and set the mood, but it did not seem as good as the classic Metroid music.

Gameplay: The crux of the game has you running around the giant space station figuring out what is going on, which is like most Metroid games. The game differs in that you are helping a team of guys who are also investigating the space station. This adds to the backstory because Samus used to be a part of this team and it adds quite a bit of tension at times between Samus and her Commander (Adam).

The way you got new weapons makes about as much sense as any normal game. You usually have to search the world and beat some boss to get an upgrade. This time around the commanding officer must give you permission to use a weapon to unlock it. Like when you have to save some team member from dying you use your grappling beam to get up there quickly.

Something else that is different than previous Metroid games is there are no health or missile pickups. The way you replenish your health or missiles is by holding the wii remote vertically and holding down A. While this might sound weird, it is quite helpful as certain bosses are very hard to beat. One of the biggest changes other than the ones previously mentioned is the addition of dodge. You can press to the right or left when an enemy is going to hit you and you will dodge in that direction. This is very helpful and quite a bit different than previous games.

There are tons of waypoints (save stations) in the game. When you get to your next one, you are told exactly where to go, unlike in other Metroid games where you have to discover things for yourself. I do not think this really took away much from the game because you really could not go to other places, the game moves you to your next waypoint because of locked doors and what not.

The story I thought was very intriguing and quite a bit different than previous Metroid games, but it still felt like a Metroid game, which was good.

If your a Metroid fan, I highly recommend the game.

Verdict: Playworthy!!!

For a big hint as to how the game plays out check out the first letter of each word in the title of the game.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Its about Fraken time...

About the game: The sequel to the best RTS of all time? I think that says it all. This review is going to be about the single player experience. In Starcraft there are 3 races the Terran humans (which this single-player game is all about), the Protoss (Aliens with awesome tech) and Zerg (disgusting insect creatures like the "Bugs" in Starship Troopers).

Controls: The controls are upgraded since the original and are that much better.

Graphics: These graphics will not be the best you have ever seen, but they certainly have some wow factor to them. The cut scenes are tops as in all Blizzard games, and the interlude in game scenes are also high quality.

Sound: The music/sound is tops as in all Blizzard games. The music has that epic feel to it when your in the middle of some insane mission or lulls to a slow symphony.

Gameplay: This is the is the RTS of the future. The game has the feel of the original game but with many upgrades. Though you only get 1/3 of the story, it feels like a "complete" RTS.
In the standard RTS you have a base and have to farm resources in order to build buildings and units. Then you use these units to beat the enemy (whomever that may be). The game deviates a bit from this at times as you might have to escort people to a destination or you might have to defend for a certain amount of time, but the standard is still the standard even in this game.

This portion of the single-player is the Terrans and your old friend Jim Raynor is back looking older, wiser and still flying on a huge battleship he stole in the first game.
The game has an epic single-player story but it includes many RPG elements. For example when your not doing a mission you can wander around the ship your flying on. As you walk around you can talk to people touch various things and it might give you some information or it might advance the plot a little.

One of the best things blizzard did is include units in the single-player campaign that aren't in the multi-player. This makes for a real unique experience as you will be using your medics and firebats to heal and burn. As you complete missions you will get a currency that can be used to upgrade your units and even hire mercenaries. You also can find these Protoss and Zerg artifacts that will allow you to make permanent upgrades to your base. Like you can get turrets on top of the bunkers or even build a building that slows down the Zerg.

Mercs are a super cool feature, basically they have their own building and after a cool down you can summon them to the battlefield in small numbers. What makes them awesome is that you can summon them instantly so they can help you out in a pinch. Especially in some of the very hard missions that occur later in the camapign.

The storyline for the game is pretty straightforward and I will not spoil anything but you do get the opportunity to play as another race other than Terran.

The game has some surprises along the way and it really is an epic feel, the only let down was that when your done with the game you have to wait another year (or more) for the next installment.

This really only brushes the surface as to how good the game is. If you have not played the original, I suggest you go and get it and at the same time buy this for when your done.
Verdict: Playworthy!!!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

An Original Jewish Themed Card Game

About the game: In case you do not know this, I have been working on a card game with a couple friends. We have been working on it for about a year now and we are in the process currently of getting it produced. Its a simple blind bidding card game. Oh.....its called "Cholent, The Game!" and its the most original Jewish card game to hit the market in years..

Components: The game is a card game pure and simple. The game will come with 160 cards when it hits stores later this year.

The cards are seperated into 5 categories:

Recipe Cards
Shuk Cards
Ingredient Cards
Gelt Cards
Chevra Cards

There is also a cholent pot card to signify whose turn it is.

Artwork: I will link the game at the end of this post to show off how awesome the artwork really is.  I think seeing the artwork will speak for itself.

Gameplay: The game is very easy to understand but takes some strategy to master.

To start shuffle each of the decks and place them face down in front of everyone. Each player is then dealt a recipe card which is kept secret until the end of the game. Lastly, each player takes 4 gelt cards and 1 chevra card into their hand.

The youngest player then takes the cholent pot and turns over the top card of the shuk deck. Each shuk card will have an immediate effect and will initiate a bidding phase which works as follows.

1) The player who turned over the shuk card takes the number of ingredients indicated on the card and places them face up next to the ingredient deck.
2) Each player takes gelt cards equal to the number of ingredients being bid on.
3) Each ingredient is bid on separately in the order they were turned face up.

Bidding works as follows:

Each player decides how many gelt cards to use, and everyone simultaneously turns them over at the same time. The player with the highest total wins the ingredient.

After each ingredient is bid on, the cholent pot passes to the left and the next player starts the process over.

Now your probably telling yourself that it sounds interesting, but where is the awesome? This is where the chevra cards come in. These are special one time use cards that will help you get the ingredients you need.

You have to pay 3 gelt to get one, and there is no limit to how many you can have, but a smart player will know better than to spend all his gelt on chevra cards. A hand with no gelt is like a Cholent with no ingredients. Just like you need ingredients to make a cholent, so to here you need gelt to get the ingredients for your recipe.

If your interested in the official rules, head on over to the website and check them out.

My Thoughts: Of course I am a bit biased when it comes to this game, because I designed it, but I know a good game when I see it and I think we have a winner here. I feel so strongly about it, my friends and I created a company and are trying to get it produced. We currently have a website, facebook page, board game geek page, and are trying to raise funds through kickstarter.

If you have not heard of kickstarter, it is a website that allows people to donate money to your cause. Of course, you give some sort of reward in exchange for the money. In our case we are offering pre orders of the game, t shirts, a cool sketchbook and more!

If you have any questions, comments or anything at all do not hesitate to contact me.
Verdict: Playworthy!!!

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