Category: Games

Dragons Dogma Game

Straight away it was evident they were going to be attempting an ‘epic emotional story’ in true Japanese style. But they failed, miserably. This has a lot to do with the fact that, in all the cut scenes your character just stands there gawping with a gormless look across their face, making stupid noises like “oooooooh, aaaaaaah.” As if they’ve just realised what’s actually happening in the world and what epic quest has been bestowed on them. I’m literally sitting there clutching my head with my hands watching these scenes because they’re so ridiculous, no worthy protagonist would act in the way the main character does, they just would not, it’s absurd. I really feel the need to get this point across, when you see what I’m talking about, you’ll thank me.

Another strange thing about the story is that, I’m pretty sure you have some sort of romantic interest in the first settlement you start the game in. But when you leave there you never see nor hear from this person again and your character doesn’t seem to care at all! You’re character just seems to be like “see you later!” Then you just rock up at the next settlement where you meet a person who is already married and she starts swooning all over you, bearing in mind you have never seen this person before (not really good story telling there.) That is all I’m going to say about the story, the less I talk about that, the better, onto the combat.

I really liked the combat in Dragons Dogma, that was the best factor for me. There isn’t quite enough customisation as I was expecting but it didn’t bother me too much. I guess now would be a good time to tell you about ‘Pawns’. Pawns are a major game mechanic in the game, basically they are a bunch of brainless fools who follow you around everywhere you go and don’t stop talking. They are good for hitting and shooting enemies and also for healing you, so that’s alright I guess. What I actually do like about the combat though is that it feels very fluid, you can easily end up in a big fight with you and your pawns against multiple enemies and it feels like there is a lot is going on. Also when fighting a large enemy you can jump on their back and proceed to climb all over them which I think is a nice touch (attacking them whilst you do so, naturally.). I think it is good to mix it up every now and then and set up a bucking bronco contest.


Stormfall

There is much to do in this game, from raiding, sieges, building units, upgrading buildings, discovering new technologies, and much more! At first you will be building your main resource buildings, which include gold, iron, and food, and all of them are important in their own way. Iron is mostly used in constructing offensive units, gold for defensive units, and food is deducted for each unit and building that exists in your castle. You will also use all 3 resources in construction of your buildings and their upgrades, as well as upgrading and discovering new technologies and units.

New Technologies will grant you access to more advanced buildings, better trained units, and newer units. Each day you will receive a random scroll, which can be applied to discover a new technology, should you have enough of the required scrolls. If you do not, you can always trade them with other players via the marketplace. Once you have unlocked an unit technology, you can spend resources to upgrade them up to lvl 20, with each upgrade level increasing their overall stats by 2%.

Skull Runes are a commodity given through level ups and other means. These Runes can be applied on a “Tech Tree” of sorts, which will allow you to do things such as increasing their speed, build times, group unlocks, and other attributes. You will see the requirement of skull runes in each tree below going further down on said tree, allowing more customization and diversity from other Lords, based on their own strategies.

Units come in two main flavors, offensive and defense, and 5 sub categories (Infantry, Calvary, Occult Beastiary, and Mountain Dwarves). Each sub categorie is different in their own ways, and defensive units are better at countering specific types. For instance, a Dwarf is a defensive unit suited to countering infantry and calvary units, which adds a unique layer of strategy for a Facebook war game.

In this game you can join “Leagues”, which are players united in a group, and form alliances with friends. You can also visit friends and create wraiths, which are special units created from friends only and you can summon them yourself with the Crypt, but only 3 a day, everyday. You can also defend your friends with reinforcements, trade, and much more as well, adding a layer of strategy and cooperation with friends, because this a competitive game, and you could use all the friends you can get!


Guild Wars 2

The great thing about the GW games is that there is no monthly subscription involved. After buying the GW 2 game itself, you can play as much as you want for free.

There is enough content to satisfy every type of player: those interested in PVE (player versus environment), those who enjoy the challenges of PVP (player versus player), the solo player, and so forth.

The setting takes place in the fantasy world of Tyria. The graphics are superior to those of any other computer game. You can go out and explore places like Shiverpeak Mountains, the kingdom of Ascalon, the Crystal Desert, and sinking civilizations.

Since Guild Wars 2 is a role playing game, players get the option to adventure as a ranger, warrior, elementalist, monk, assassin, etc. The character customization process is highly detailed. You can play a male or female of any class. You get to choose the facial features, hair style, etc.

The costume designs are rather neat and appealing. You can expect much more than the generic armor and robes offered by other games in the genre. The type of armor and weapons you use will depend on the class you play. If you play as a magic caster, then you will wear cloth. Warriors get plate armor and heavy blunt weapons.

There races you can play as include humans, asura, charr, norn, and sylvari. The level cap has been upgraded to 80. One of the issues some people had with GW 1 was that the level cap of 20 was too low. In the new game, even after you level up to 80, there is still a lot more to do. There is content for every player of every level.

The PVE content features a scaling system that lowers the character’s level and stats to match the levels of the nearby monsters. This concept means that there is a global level of difficulty. It’s a unique concept that some players appreciate and others dislike.

If you played GW 1, then you definitely need to give GW 2 a chance. Everything from the world to the leveling has been expanded. If you’re new to MMORPGs, then Guild Wars 2 is a great game to start with.


Preowned PS3

There are now many services on the Internet, some with well known high-street names, that allow you to buy and sell second-hand PS3 games. Most titles are available to buy second hand within a matter of weeks of them being officially released. The newer they are the more they will cost but still much cheaper than buying a sealed box from a supermarket at twice the price.

Surprisingly good prices can be gotten if you are selling your preowned PS3 games. To find out how much a used game is worth just visit one of the popular sites. These are all listed in the link below for convenience. When you visit one of the sites simply search for the game to get a quote for how much they will pay you for it. If you choose to accept, you just have to post the game to them then wait for the cash to arrive. Most of them do free UK delivery.

Selling your preowned games is a good idea for a few reasons: It frees up space, it sorts out your collection of games and weeds out the stuff you don’t use, it raises money to put towards a new game, or at least another preowned one! Many gamers keep hold of games for various reasons, keeping them just in case they or their mates want to play on these old games again, but mostly they just work their way to the bottom of the pile and get forgotten on top of all the new games.

There are so many new games coming out and being bought that old games are easily forgotten. This is exactly why it is best to get rid and trade-in your preowned games as soon as possible partially because you’ll get more money for it but also because it tidies your collection.

Buying second hand PS3 games on the other hand can be a great way to grow a collection. If you are a collector and have the space and the taste then you could build a library of games for a fraction of the price than if you bought them new. It is quite popular for gamers to buy 2 or 3 used games in one go because they are so cheap. At these prices you would potentially always have a new game to play and could be very selective about which ones to keep and which ones to sell on again.


Madden 13

You’ll have to bear with us because we tend to ignore the fancy names given to new Madden 13 features. What they call Total Control Passing, for example, we’ll just refer to generically as the new touch passing system. Trust us, it can get quite confusing trying to keep track of all those new marketing-driven phrases every year so it’s better if we just look at what they actually do rather than what they’re called.

Timing is going to be everything in Madden 13’s passing game. After the snap you, as the quarterback, have to be aware of the fact that your receivers will be looking for the ball only at certain points during a play. On an in-route, the receiver won’t be looking for the ball until after he makes his break; on deep routes, the player won’t be looking for the ball until he gets a certain number of yards down field. This didn’t seem like that big a deal on paper but when we saw how Madden 13 is implementing this system, our reaction was mixed. When we say a player isn’t looking, we mean that literally now. Offensive and defensive players actually have to look at the football in the air before they can make a play on it. If the receiver on the in-route doesn’t look up for the ball after he makes his cut, it’s highly unlikely he makes the catch. Obviously this is where a receiver’s AWR and CTH rating will play a part. This doesn’t mean that you can’t throw the ball early on a timing route, like a curl, knowing that the receiver will be looking for the ball immediately coming out of his break. That will definitely work. Our cause for concern comes from the fact that you may not see the passing icon over the receiver’s head until the timing for the pass is right. That is, your X receiver on a fly route won’t have that ‘X’ over his head until he’s at a point in his route where you’re supposed to deliver the ball. This disappearing/reappearing icon will likely be optional when the final game ships, but for now it definitely takes some getting used to.

We ran with the Oakland Raiders (our favorite team) to see how Carson Palmer’s arm and Oakland’s speedy weapons would function in the new passing system. The timing system was apparent on a screen pass to the underrated Marcel Reece. The whole point of running a screen to the fullback is that no defense is ever going to commit more than one player to watching the fullback. Thus when we snapped the ball and didn’t see the “LB” icon over Reece’s head, there was a moment of brief panic. You can still throw the ball to a receiver who doesn’t have the icon over his head, but we nonetheless thought we’d called the wrong play or something had gone wrong when Reece’s icon didn’t come up. A split second later when we hit the “LB” button to deliver the ball anyway, Reece broke off his route and headed upfield rather than drifting toward the sideline like the playart shows. Now Reece made the catch, but because the timing of the play was thrown off by our early pass attempt, the blocking didn’t get a chance to set up and he only gained two yards. Yes it’s only one play, but it clearly illustrates the importance of timing in Madden 13 and it does it using a screen pass; the ultimate timing play. The takeaway here is that the disappearing icons are meant to simulate the reads and decision making quarterbacks have to make during a play. It seems to be implemented fairly well but we’ll need much more time with the game (which we’ll get) to really see how far this new timing system goes toward accurately representing NFL football.

Hand-in-hand with the new timing system is the new ball flight trajectory and precision passing system. We’re now given more control over where the ball goes and how it gets there. The distance between the quarterback and the receiver will determine what kind of power you can put on the pass. No more rifling short passes six yards downfield or inadvertently throwing a “moonball” out of bounds. Tapping or mashing a passing button will determine what kind of touch you’re putting on the pass but there are limits to how fast and how high the ball will travel through the air. We had a difficult timing separating the effects of the precision passing system from the flight trajectory system. In theory, you’re supposed to be able to use the left stick to lead a receiver with your pass and do it better than we’ve seen in previous editions of Madden NFL. For years, holding up or down on the left stick as you press the pass button would throw the ball high (so your man can outleap the defense) or low (so you can pick apart a zone with precision). Aiming left or right while passing didn’t have a dramatic effect, really. Now, in Madden 13, all of those directions on a pass will cause your quarterback to throw the ball ahead of, behind, deeper or more shallow than the receiver’s current route….sort of. As best as we can tell, the same left stick controls during passing will also still throw the ball high or low. So of course we tried all sorts of variations of passes intended to illustrate for us just what does what. For example on a broken play, we always want the receiver to break deep down the field so we can throw a high touch pass over the defender and make a big play out of something. In past Madden’s this is very difficult. In Madden 13, in theory, it should be easier with all of the new passing control changes. What we ended up with was a lot of incompletions and interceptions. In our session with Madden 13, we couldn’t get an understanding of how to at least attempt creative passes regularly. Whether it’s user error, incomplete design or simply a rough early build of the game that’s to blame, we’ll be digging into this in later sessions.


Birzzle Pandora

Each game mode has unique gameplay and is polished enough to be a separate title in their own right. Let’s start with the classic mode, much like other match-3 games, your objective is to group 3 or more birds together to eliminate them from the play field. Instead of the usual swap mechanic though, you can pick up any exposed bird and drop it in any column. Match 4 or more and you get a supercharged bird, the more you add the more powerful the effect. The brilliant thing here is that matches will stay on screen for a moment before disappearing giving you just enough time to add more. If you’re quick and you can manage a group of 7 or more you’ll be awarded with a black hole bird which clears the whole play field regardless of how many birds are stacked there. Every few seconds a new layer of birds drops in from above and the game ends when there is no more room for new birds to fall. Levels increase as you gain points making the new birds drop in faster but also increasing the points you gain from matches. When you break through level 10, birds start appearing with locks on them, requiring 2-3 matches to eliminate them from play.

Pandora mode is the main event and it’s kind of like a blitz option. You start the round with 90 seconds on the clock and of course, once time runs out, it’s game over. Amongst the birds are blocks with the letters of the word Birzzle, these can’t be moved and can only be destroyed with powered up birds. When you do destroy them though, you’ll receive a variety of bonuses such as extra time and bombs or obstacles such as wooden blocks that get in your way and can’t be matched. Collecting all the letters of Birzzle gives you chance at getting a more powerful bonus, large chunks of time, or advanced levels to increase your point scoring potential. Unlike the classic mode, new birds enter from the bottom and only when there’s room for them, the faster you match the more opportunity you get. Pandora mode has that ‘one more turn’ quality that keeps you coming back for more and you always end a round feeling you can achieve more.

The final game mode is Ice Break, and this is like playing an entirely different game. Unlike the other modes, you can’t move birds once they’re on the play field, you can only drop one bird at a time. The first two rows are submerged in water and while you can match here you’ll need to focus on the area above. Your objective is to clear all the ice blocks above the water line by making matches adjacent to them. When all the ice is cleared, a new wave pushes up from below and you gain an additional 20 seconds. Scattered throughout the ice there are bonuses like extra time and bombs to help you along. You’ll also find golden eggs which add to your final score and may have something to do with a secret game mode apparently only found in Ice Break. Large groups are a little harder make here but with a little strategy, still possible.

The graphics are bright and cheery, crisp and well defined. The powered up birds all look fantastic when they’re set off. The birds look a little like they’ve been smuggled in with very small boxes but I only noticed this briefly. Backgrounds look nice and don’t distract the eye. The only problem I found was the screen could seem a little crowded at times, especially in Pandora mode with all the extra effects going off all at once, sometimes even breaking the game flow. Sound effects are nothing special but they’re not bad either, they’re fun and most important to me, they don’t get annoying. There are some nice little touches when using power-ups but it’s not really atmospheric.

Social media integration is included in the option menu but I wasn’t able to link to my Facebook account. I’m not sure if this is a bug or just a feature they’re still working on. However, Game Center works just fine, you can compare your scores with your friends and if you want to be demoralized you can take a look at the global scores. Aside from the social media problem though, this is a solidly built application, I have experienced no crashes to date.


Catapult King

The first thing you’ll notice about Catapult King is undoubtedly the graphical quality, it’s amazing, and doesn’t suffer from any slow down or stability issues. The backgrounds are luscious and vibrant and also highly detailed and the stages are complex and inventive, it’s hard to believe that this is a free game, even harder to believe there is no advertising.

So… what’s the catch? There isn’t one! Gameplay is also amazing, the physics work as they should, the controls are simple. Just adjust the height of your catapult and pull back and release. Advancing through the game, the levels get more complex, towers are made of harder materials, enemies are placed in more difficult positions and you get new types of ammunition. Plus the occasional boss battle, in which you’ll need to attack the dragon directly.

For difficult levels, you have magic available to help get you through, earthquakes and meteor showers or an aiming aid, IAP’s are there for the impatient gamer, you can purchase magic instead of earning it or if you’re really impatient you can just unlock every level. You don’t need to spend your money however, everything you can buy, can also be earned, magic for example, accumulates from finishing levels.

Catapult King currently boasts 80 levels with more promised in future updates, so there’s a decent amount of content as well. Just finishing all the levels will provide some challenge but for the enthusiast you can revisit levels to gain all the collectibles as well, a significant challenge to say the least. This title works perfectly on both iPad and iPhone and it’s perfect for gaming on the go, 1 stage will last only a minute or two.


Major Mayhem

Over an hour later, the seemingly simple gameplay had challenged me and kept me captivated. And the next day I came back for more. It has missions, achievements, leaderboards, upgrades… pretty much everything a gamer could ask for.

I did a little research, and found out that this game had just released a major update (2.0) which increased the playable modes and switched to the “Freemium” model.

The premise is simple. You are on a vague mission given to you by the President of the United States (The bad guys apparently kidnapped your girlfriend… ?), so you run through three different environments, hide behind trees, and shoot things. It is a rail-based game, so the only movements you really have to control is jumping in the short action sequences that break up the “shooting zones,” if you will.

As your character hides behind obstacles, you tap on the enemies on the screen to lean out and fire at them. You can save hostages, create combos, and even shoot chickens! These things all accumulate coins, which you use to buy items in the shop. If you wanted to take a big step forward without grinding, coins are available as In-App Purchases. I have completed all 3 missions so far without In-App Purchases, so the balance is pretty solid. Sometimes freemium models break the gameplay progression, but I haven’t seen that here.

My only real complaint about the game is the jump feature. You can use two fingers to jump, instead of one to shoot, but that is a little tricky. The other option is to press on the “Jump” icon that shows up at the bottom right of the screen. As a right-handed person, this is tough on the iPad, because I am trying to shoot during a “Run and Gun” section with my right finger, but need to jump. I’d love to have that button at the bottom left so I could use my thumb there to jump.


Coasterville Facebook Game

The game features a nice tutorial that will get you familiar with the game through a series of quests, teaching you the basics, such as building stands and rides, upgrading them, and finding the items necessary by searching them. Most actions in this game require 1 energy point, which recovers every 3 or 4 minutes by 1 point, the only things I’ve seen that don’t require energy is customizing rides, painting them, and upgrading shops. You can get more by waiting, or having friends send you energy packs. Other buildings in this game help out the park customers, such as rest rooms, first aid stations, and more.

Goods is an item which is required for almost everything in this game, and can be gotten by ordering more from the warehouse. The warehouse offers several amounts of goods to be delivered, denoted by a time associated with them, or you can visit friends to get more from their warehouses and other means.

Inspiration is an item received from visiting your friends’ parks and aiding them by clicking on rides, parks, hotels, and so forth. You receive 1 for each friend, and this is used in the construction of many ride upgrades and ride construction.

Thrill points is an item received from boosting rides, and is also used as construction ingredients in many rides and some stands. Boosting rides will give you a set amount of points, and upgrading the rides will increase the amount you get for each boost! Beware, however, that boosting too much can break the rides and require more goods and such to repair and get it back to normal again.

Annual passes are an item gotten from the Annual Pass Stand, and work as recommendations, like from the game Chefville. You will need these recommendations to expand your park further, so you can build more rides and whatever you wish to add.

There is a few buildings, which are used for crafting parts, food, and props, for your rides and expansions. The more advanced constructions will require crafting parts from these buildings, but thankfully, I haven’t come across too much need for these buildings as of yet. You will probably need these much more often for the more advanced rides, as I have noticed for the Fantasy and Wild West themed rides, which brings me to another point.

Besides normal rides, like bumper cars, ferris wheels, and the like, there is also “Themed” rides and attractions. Currently, the game offers Fantasy (Medieval style), Wild West, (Cowboys and Saloons), and the Winter themes. You also receive customization options to place there, such as dirt for the wild west, and so forth, as well as themed decorations.

You unlock more rides and amenities by getting “Park Popularity”, and you get this by placing decorations, upgrading rides, and building more rides. However, your front gate only allows so many rides because topping off, which will require more friends to hire to upgrade to the next level front gate. Another item in this game, which is required for many upgrades and stands, is hospitality, which looks like a hotel bell. You get hospitality by building motels/hotels, or by asking friends.

The roller coasters in this game have some decent customization options, and you can expand them in 4 directions, and require certain ingredients, such as goods or thrill points to expand. You can paint these rides and customize the sections with ride hills, “barn” sections (riding through an enclosure, like a barn or something), and twists and turns, corkscrews, and much more! The more expansive the ride, the more ingredients are needed for each ride section!


Rayman Origins

In Rayman Origins, you play as (you guessed it!) Rayman, as you tackle almost a dozen different areas, filled with levels that cover the requisite range of fire, ice and water themes, but with some other interesting ideas thrown in to make them feel very fresh again. For example, one string of levels are all tied to the theme of music, with piano keys stretched across the ground and drum heads that launch you into the sky, built into the stage both as enjoyable eye candy and as part of the level’s smart design.

And smart design it is. Gameplay is quite simple, at first. You basically just run, jump and stomp on baddies like you would expect in a typical platformer, but as you advance you are granted powers like the ability to attack, swim and run up walls. Surely nothing revolutionary, but when these powers are combined with some really clever ideas regarding level layout, the gameplay really shines. In fact, should you choose to speed run a level (and the game even encourages you to attempt this) you start to get the sense that many levels can be completed without ever breaking your stride, with a perfection in motion that feels a bit like the speed of Sonic the Hedgehog combined with the accuracy and “no margin for error” gameplay of Contra. Needless to say, things can become quite difficult.

Mind you, they don’t have to be. Playing through this game, with the goal of just reaching the finish line, shouldn’t pose much of a problem. However, this game wants you, begs you to collect, and that’s what its entire framework is built around. I would even go as far as to say you’re really not playing the game as the developers intended, should you choose to push through, collecting the bare minimum.

No, what really makes the levels challenging and interesting is collecting lums, and finding and freeing hidden electoons (the former and the latter being the game’s adorable creature collectables). This provides much more satisfaction than simply crossing the finish line, since all the stuff you collect is tallied at the end of each level and fills in a nice medallion for it respectively, to track your progress. On the world map, you can see which levels you have completed the medallions for, as well as other milestones (like gold medals for collecting a demanding amount of lums, and trophies for completing time trials). You even receive tangible rewards for your work, like unlocking extra characters to use and extra levels to play, including the true and much more satisfying endgame (and one hell of a difficult level to get there). This is one of those games you want to complete 100% before you shelve it.

Visually, Origins is one of the prettiest games I have ever played. It adopts an art style that feels like a living cartoon or painting, and I can see it standing the test of time with its charming and energetic graphics. The music is also well done, but it takes a little time to get there. At first, the music is underwhelming, but as you work your way through the game, it builds in prominence and evolves into something less lax and more dramatic. It even begins to frequently feature the lums singing along in mesmerizing fashion, something you have to hear yourself to really appreciate.

But what would any platformer be without some epic boss fights? Origins has them, but does not tip its hand until the second half of the adventure. The bosses are huge enemies that really brandish the illustrators work, and they are creative battles, being as much a test of your wits as a test of your skills. It’s nothing you haven’t experienced before, but it’s a master class in how to correctly design old school platforming boss fights. The final boss fight is a complete and total let down, and I’m still utterly confused how it happened, but the “real” final boss fight, if you unlock it, is surely one of the coolest boss fights in the game, and disturbingly hilarious too.

I haven’t played the other versions of Rayman Origins, but this game honestly feels like it was built for the Vita. It’s perfect on the handheld, and one of the best games currently available. But regardless of which system you own, this game is completely worth your time, and deserves to be played. I was never a true Rayman fan, often associating his brand more with the Rabbids than anything else, but I am a full-on devotee now, championing good ol’ Ray as a solid entry on the short list of top shelf platformers.And while I don’t think Rayman has quite reached the platforming heights of Mario and Luigi, he’s hot on their tails.