A look at games the you may or may not have played or enjoyed and see what we an learn from them. Be sure to follow me for more.

23rd September 2014

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Why Triad War’s F2P Model Might Not Suck

So many of you may have heard the news that Triad Wars, a sequel to the 2012 hit Sleeping Dogs, has been confirmed to be a free to play MMO, and a lot of people have unsurprisingly reacted negative.

I can understand the negative feedback coming from gamers, the image of the free to play model for the most part has been a cookie cut game with key features being held behind a pay wall. Some journalists have even called this business “Fee to Pay” due to many high powered objects, characters, and currency requiring real world money in order to acquire. For the most part free to play games have been seen as nothing more than a cash grab by those who have been stung by these particular games (looking at you Dungeon Keeper Mobile).

I’m sure some of you reading this now are worried about this announcement, but today I post for you in the hopes that I can reassure you that the news is not entirely bad for both the fan base and the Sleeping Dog’s franchise.

Point 1: United Front Games has Never Created a Free To Play game

The free to play model is something UFG have yet to try out. Initially I debated with myself whether or not this should be seen as a good thing, but we don’t have anything to make us worry about UFG yet in terms of their business practices. They haven’t implemented any unfavourable free to play features in any of their previous games  and outside of this announcement there hasn’t been any controversy surrounding their business practices.

To put it bluntly, I can’t find anything on why people should be worried about this announcement outside of previous experience. I understand why people are slightly upset about this but right now there’s nothing to go on, we don’t know how the game will operate, how their currency system works, or whether or not they’ll be subscriptions or a premium currency that costs real money. I would say wait until we know for sure how Triad Wars is going to play out before voicing our opinion on the subject of Free To Play. Who knows, maybe you’ll end up buying stuff because you want it.

Point 2: Their games Record is Decent

United Front Games have created three titles: ModNation Karting, Sleeping Dogs, and LittleBigPlanet Karting, and ported Tomb Raider to the newest generation of consoles with Sleeping Dogs getting a re-release in October. All of these games have been quite good and accomplish what the dev team set out to create.

Honestly UFG have a good record. The games they put out haven’t been hit with news articles about “anti-consumer” actions, in fact Sleeping Dogs was generally praised by both critics and gamers alike for its good combat system and quality of its mechanics. Both karting games were good for children and parents with ModNation have some pretty impressive levels of customisation. Basically, they’ve done nothing wrong so far, why should we belive they’re going to mess this up?

Point 3: Free To Play games on PC are generally handled a lot more well than on mobile games

Compare a few of the Free To Play models on PC currently. Team Fortress 2, Firefall, Planetside 2, and Infinity Wars come to my mind when I think PC Free To Play. The stigma on Free To Play is mainly thanks to the mobile market and the over saturation of paid content. PC games tend to handle paid content a lot better than its mobile counterparts. Triad Wars will no doubt have paid subscriptions and in game items that you have to purchase, however if Triad Wars has only cosmetic items up for sale to customise your character in, and a way to purchase premium currency with in-game currency, then the entire paid content model becomes less of a necessity to buy and more to support the developer because you are not required to pay with real money in order to access premium equipment.

Take a look at Team Fortress 2, for example. Hundreds of different hats and cosmetic equipment, all optional and any of them can be purchased without having to pay a penny for any of it due to in game currency (crafted metal can buy keys). If Triad Wars opted to do a similar method, would any of you really voice your opinion about it?

Point 4: Maybe the F2P MMO Genre is best for Triad Wars

A big sandbox with the same mechanics as Sleeping Dogs with new mechanics such as building, management, raiding, and group forming. That sounds very much like an MMO to me.

Sleeping Dogs was a single player game only and your main enemy was simply computer AI who weren’t very smart. If Triad Wars was single player and kept the features listed above then the game could be considered too easy because of events having to be timed and AI not being as smart as human beings.

But add in a multiplayer element to the game where your opponents are now as smart as you are, or smarter, and the game becomes a lot more challenging. Human enemies are not limited to AI programming, they won’t continue to stay in cover or shoot at you randomly, they’ll plan, strategise, and do anything in their power to take you down. That is a lot more tense and fun than fighting AI.

The mechanics that UFG want to implement into the franchise fit both the themes that the franchise has gone for, and the features one would see in MMOs. Having a Free to Play model also brings in more users than if one was to pay for the game, some of which might become fans of Triad Wars. Free To Play can have thousands of fans, just look at League of Legends or Planetside 2. Triad Wars could be the same if done right, and a big audience means more fun for everyone involved.

 In summary: Do not judge this game because of it is Free To Play just yet, wait until more information about the game and its Free To Play model is available.

Tagged: Triad WarsFree To PlayPCMMOUnited Front Games

24th September 2013

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Top 7 Borderlands 2 Characters

Borderlands 2 gave us so many new and exciting characters, as well as including a few recurring characters from the original and improving their characteristics. Every character that plays a role in the story or involved in a quest are just as unique as the last and putting down some of my favourites was kind of hard. In a sense, they’re all good at what the developers intended them to be, increasing the comedic value of their lines depending on the circumstances. But, there are a few for me that stand above the rest as pure paradigms of good, well written characters. These are the top seven characters that I like the most in Borderlands 2.

7) Dr Zed

Dr Zed is probably the only one from the original game, not counting the Vault Hunters, who’s character and personality was improved in the sequel. His persona of being a somewhat merciless doctor without a medical license, which he is very fond of mentioning, perhaps he has some kind of fetish where he points out his flaws, strikes me somewhat sadistically as funny. Even his introduction had him stabbing a needle into an injured person just to reinforce the notion that he isn’t a very good doctor. His later missions also give a nod to Borderlands DLC Dr Zed, freak experiments and horrid mutants and whatnot. Let’s hope we do not end up under his scalpel.

6) Tiny Tina

Many fans of the game have slammed Tiny Tina for being an annoying character and I was among them. Well, that was until Tiny Tina’s Assault On Dragon’s Keep which made the character so redeemable in my eyes. The quirky and somewhat disturbing kid with a talent for explosives matched her personality. When she can be funny, she is and by far she stands out above the rest when she begins to act like stereotypes that the general public stare down at. But for all of that, what made her a great character [spoilers] was during the ending of Dragon’s Keep we saw her actually break down because of Roland’s death. She turned from just an annoying girl for me to being a tragic character who used swearing and hyperactivity to mask her grief. This also applies to her parents but we never saw her break because of it.

5) Fleshpound

Fleshpound, in my opinion, was a sorely left out character in the first act of the game. Since your quest for the Firehawk, Fleshpound was seen as the leader of the Bloodshots that terrorised the artic region of Pandora, and was pretty vulgar. What makes him shine is the way he tries to bargain with Hyperion for Roland. The comedic value was seeing that he lowered the price every time he tried to contact Hyperion until he demands $20 for him, when he originally wanted $1 million. I guess I like more for what he could have become had Gearbox decided to do more with the character. He obvious had personality and basic intelligence, though listening to ECHOcasts in the dam showed him not to be a good leader, there was potential for him to be the secondary antagonist or a boss fight. Sadly, Fleshpound never got his chance to shine and we never saw him after the dam.

4) Sir Hammerlock

Gentleman; hunter; and scholar, Sir Hammerlock is all of these and more. While he isn’t that funny, none of his lines really strike me as witty humour and is probably one of the few properly serious people within the game, he shows to be respectable and somewhat of a coward. Does anyone else find it odd that he does not embark in the adventure to defeat Professor Nakayama or assist you in hunting the giant monstrosities lurking in the swamplands? He’s an utter coward and Borderlands 2 gets it right. Hammerlock has a major flaw which is not thrown in your face or made perfectly clear, it’s one that he would hide from others to maintain his image, and it’s done so subtly you’d miss it if you were not paying attention.

3) Clap-Trap

You knew he was bound to be on this list. The iconic character of Borderlands has made me laugh time and time again, though he has made me go into deep thought (See The Most Depressing Mission). He’s a schadenfraude character who’s existence pretty much is to be laughed at. The beginning of Borderlands 2 proves this as right away his eye is ripped out and the poor robot is left to bump into things and fall down drops. That’s not to say Clap-Trap is just about pain and torment, a lot of his lines bring some delight, which makes him shine in the opening chapters of the game. MY problem though is that for most of the game he’s side-lined for the first group of vault hunters and only plays minor roles when is called upon. Though they may be short the scenes are definitely sweet, like a little mint you find in your pocket after the pack’s all gone and the mint’s dubstep flavoured.

2) Handsome Jack

The main antagonist is a brutal, corrupt, hateful and all around nasty individual, most likely to nastiest on Pandora. And for that, I love him. Before Handsome Jack, I though Makarov was the best antagonist in gaming, but Handsome Jack takes the prize for best villain in gaming. He’s an active part of the game, you hear a lot from him right from the beginning and has feelings that change depending on what you are doing in the realm of Pandora. His personality of a typical asshole is elevated to new heights and with the way he delivers every insult with a breath of amusement makes it even more powerful when his tone changes in the third act to cold and slightly angry. Handsome Jack is truly human and in an industry where villains are as flat as the main protagonist, it’s a welcome addition to my short list of respectable villainy.

1) Mr Torgue Flexington

SQUEEDLYBAMBLYFEEDLYMEEDLYMOWWWWW! Those are the exact words of the head of the Torgue Corporation, Mr Torgue Flexington. His personality is perfect, his lines are perfect, his design is perfect. Everything about him is so perfect and fits in the Borderlands universe. Gearbox did a brilliant job creating a personality that could match the explosive chaos that was Torgue weaponry, if you stuck his voice in a talking Torgue gun, it would be a match made in heaven. Torgue features most of the tough guy stereotypes but adds in the exact opposite in a bizarre match up that ends up with Torgue screaming about treating women with respect. Torgue is also the focus of poking fun at general clichés of the gaming industry, one memorable has you killing game critics because he disagrees with the score but reminisces about them giving the game a 6/10 when they said the game sucked. On any other character the constant shouting and swearing would get on my nerves, but here the settings and writing make it so pleasant to listen to his voice you never know what he’ll say next.

Tagged: Borderlands 2PCGearboxgearbox softwaretop 7Dr ZedMr TorgueHandsome JackClap-TrapTiny Tina

27th August 2013

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Road of the Dead 2: An Interview with Evil-Dog

For those who are a fan of Saga of the Dead series, it all kicked off with Evil-Dog’s smash hit Road of the Dead. Since 2010, Evil-Dog has earnt over six awards on Newgrounds.com from the Saga of the Dead games. As a special treat for those who are fans, I’m here with Evil-Dog, the programmer and creator of Road of the Dead 2 who has generously answered a series of questions about his new game.

When did you start production on Road of the Dead 2?

It started a while ago, somewhere around July 2012 I think. Yeah…a long time ago, I remember thinking we’d release it for October 2012 for Halloween. Haha, I’m terrible at evaluating how much time stuff takes to make. It didn’t help that the project got blown way out of proportions.

Was a sequel originally planned when developing Road of the Dead or was it because of the popularity of the first game?

Well, the first thing to say about that is that when we created the story, I knew it would eventually involve many games telling the entire story, because I love that kind of stuff, a big story told through different games, movies, etc. I don’t quite remember if we knew there would be another Road game when making the first Road of the Dead but we knew the story didn’t end there, it’s pretty obvious when you see the ending. The game’s popularity made it clear that a sequel had to be done though. However, the Road of the Dead 2 game we have today isn’t the sequel we had planned at all. That planned sequel is now Road of the Dead 3 where we continue John Creasman’s storyline.

What skills have you picked up since releasing Road of the Dead in 2010 that have helped help you develop this time around?

Programming is a never ending learning process so everything I work on is a little bit more baggage in my brain. I couldn’t say I picked up any particular skill but I can say I have optimized the engine massively to run Road 2 with a lot more stuff going on. Basically, I took a slow running game, made it run much faster, then packed it with enough stuff to make it run slow again.

Creating a game like this is definitely needed help from others in departments such as art and voices. Has working with others on Road of the Dead 2 taught you anything new and was the experience with other talented people a pleasant one?

Working with talented people is almost always pleasant as I admire artists and what they do. I think I’m one of those “friendly” programmers. Working with co-author and partner SickDeathFiend is always (99% of the time) a great pleasure as I love his style and our minds work similarly. As far as learning through that process, I’ve learned that voice actors are slaves to be overworked. Just kidding, I’ve sent them many batches of lines to do. I guess the lesson here is to really plan ahead and prepare all the lines to be done at once, when possible. Sometimes though, it’s not really possible to plan ahead that much, as features are added in the game and as you realize where some content is lacking.

Based on the development videos and Live streaming, it looks like Road of the Dead 2 is going to be bigger and deadlier. What’s new this time around?

Yes! We can safely say that Road of the Dead 2 is at least twice as big as the first one. Code wise, it’s over 3 times as much code, Road 1 had roughly 20 000 lines of code, Road 2 has about 65 000 lines. It has about twice as much game modes, voices, music tracks, zombie types, it’s got a new zombie AI, new aggressive mutant behaviours and a full campaign editor to make your own campaigns. It’s just much bigger in every way conceivable.

Have any of the enemies or obstacles been changed to better accommodate the new gameplay style?

The zombies are more aggressive. As you go a bit slower with your hummer, they cling more frequently to your vehicle and climb on your hood. We’ve also added mutants sometimes grabbing your arms from the side window. We also did small things like shooting up fire hydrants with your gun to use the water to extinguish the fire on your engine.

Tell us a bit about the two new protagonists we’ll be playing as. What are their backstories and how did they end up in a Jeep together?

You play as Diane and Cocheta, two soldiers who decide to ignore the military orders as chaos is clearly out of control and attempt to escape the city on their own. Diane has been in the city fighting the outbreak for almost a week, when Cocheta finds her, she has just been in a crash with her squad, they all got devoured and she’s fighting for her life. Cocheta arrives with his hummer, saves her and takes her with him. Diane is a strong woman but in the circumstances, she’s willing to follow Cocheta who just saved her life. Cocheta doesn’t believe that the military can win so he’s going west to escape the city by himself. Cocheta arrived in the city only a few days ago. They’re both capable soldiers with a strong will. More of their backstory will be revealed in future games in the Saga.

Aside from the two new protagonists, are there any other characters we see or hear?

Without giving any spoilers, General Sherman is present in the game’s story and another key character is introduced briefly. There is also another character that will play a bigger part in a future game. John Creasman also makes a special apparition :)

I’m sure developing these characters has given you a few opinions on them. Who would you consider to be your favourite out of all of them and why?

I love Cocheta for his no nonsense sense of direction and purpose. He usually knows what he wants and how to go about it. I also like General Sherman a lot, even from the first game, although he didn’t have a huge part except radio communications, I still had his backstory and character in mind. He’s a man with honour who knows when it’s time to sacrifice for the greater good. I never intended to write black and white characters, I like my character with a very blurry line between good and evil and I think Sherman portrays this very well in the Saga.

In Road of the Dead 1 the Military were a major threat and would pull every attempt to stop you. Now that they’re friendly, what does Road of the Dead 2 have aside from zombies to replace the Military threat?

What happens in Road 2 is that we made the zombies more aggressive to compensate for the lack of soldiers shooting at you from a distance. The other major change is that the mutant zombies and the alpha mutants are now extremely aggressive and active and will track you down and hunt you as packs and really make your life difficult. To us, the mutants are road 2’s hellfire helicopter pounding on you.

Let’s talk about the zombies, are they more deadlier? Do they have any new abilities that give us more reason to fear their undead wrath?

Overall, they’re just more aggressive. One new thing they do is if you drive close to them, there’s a chance they’ll leap forward and take a few steps fast toward you to get on your hood. Mutants of course are in a whole new league now and will ruin your life.

Were there any features that you wanted into the game but were never put into the game and why were they not included?

Yeah we wanted to have a desert run mode where you would drive in 3D in the desert and shooting zombies and save civilians. But in the end it was a technical challenge we didn’t have time to accomplish. The campaign editor almost didn’t make it in the game but we thought fuck it we’re doing it! It was a huge addition.

One of your development entries included the picture of an Alpha Mutant, who is it and what does it do that differentiates itself from the normal Mutants?

All the mutants are just different genetic reactions to the virus. So rarely, zombies will mutate into mutants and sometimes into alpha mutants, called alpha because they’re very aggressive and usually followed by a few regular mutants. They’ll bash your hood and damage your vehicle if you let them.

Road of the Dead 1 had some challenge modes which offered a new way to play the game after The Great Escape, what challenge modes do we have for Road of the Dead 2 and how do they change the core gameplay?

We have some of the same game modes but also some others that focus on some new features of the game: Rescue Op lets you shoot at zombies from a hovering helicopter to save civilians, Mutant Meltdown lets you battle with lots of mutants at once and F.U.B.A.R. is the closest mode to Road of the Dead 1’s story mode where you battle the military who are against you.

What would you say was your favourite part of creating Road of the Dead 2?

Like with any game, the best part is when everything starts falling together into a coherent game. Then you get to test it and actually enjoy playing what you created. That’s a very nice feeling. I also like writing the dialogs in games, that’s a pretty interesting part too.


And your least favourite part?

The last 10% that takes 90% of the time, debugging, testing, etc. I had some serious bugs that kept coming back, it was really painful.

Saga of the Dead is certainly expanding, what plans do you have for the series after Road of the Dead 2?

I plan to try to port Range of the Dead on flash so people can experience this little part of the story. We also wanna port Road 1 and 2 on mobiles using Unity3D and possibly work on a bundle for steam, that would be nice. We also have many games coming in the Saga, Streets of the Dead, Defence of the Dead, Range of the Dead 2, Lab of the Dead 2, Road of the Dead 3, Trail of the Dead and others, we have so much planned it’s not even funny.

Is there anything else you want to say? Any points you wanted to make but my questions haven’t covered them?

I’d just say that releasing a game is a very stressful moment for a game developer, it’s the moment when all your efforts culminate into a success or a failure, relative to your expectations, which in my case are usually pretty high. Just wanted to share that.

Road of the Dead 2 is already out, click here to play.

Click here to play the first Road of the Dead.

For more information on Saga of the Dead and more of Evil-Dog’s games, visit www.evil-dog.com

Tagged: Road of the Dead 2Saga of the DeadEvil-DogNewgroundsBrowser GameInterview

12th June 2013

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Borderlands 2: The Moon Base’s Wasted Potential

So if you’ve played Borderlands 2, you definitely know what I’m talking about. Wherever you go in Pandora, bar a few locations, you can always see a Hyperion ship off in the distance known as the Moon Base. This H shaped ship delivers reinforcements during the dam when Loaders try and kill both you and the Bloodshots plus it gets a few good shots at Sanctuary halfway through. Being such a power ship with weapons to match, the Moon Base would be a great part of the story to keep the suspense up between main story missions.

Sad to say, it isn’t.

The Moon Base has to be one of the most underplayed cards Handsome Jack has. No matter where you go on Pandora you could always see this hulking ship shadowing the moon, always staring at you, the blue glow from the middle was always nerve wrecking, giving the feeling it was charging its weapons and aiming directly at you. It reminded me a lot of Majora’s Mask with that creepy moon. And honestly, the Moon Base should have been Pandora’s Moon, so to speak.

From time to time I felt like at any time that ship would send down Loaders to where I was to mess with me, waiting until I was on the verge of dying before giving Hyperion the advantage. Either that or getting hit by one of the moon shots. The base was unsettling, as Hyperion always knew where you were, watching your every step and planning, knowing everything you do is exactly what they want for the first half. The Moon Base would have been perfect, even after the first plot twist.

So what could they have done? Integrate it into the main story. Not one of the main characters ever mentions the Moon Base, nor do they ever acknowledge it’s ever there. You’re not told its weapons capabilities nor what’s on it or even its name, and considering what it can do, the Moon Base should have been something to have feared. It has all the capability to wipe out Sanctuary but nobody seems to be scared about that. I understand that the Warrior is far more powerful and thus should be the focus, but having a giant ship that can easily blast you to pieces out in the Highlands should be at least be noted by Roland.

Now I have been hearing rumours that Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep is not focused on a Dungeons and Dragons adventure but instead has you fighting inside the Moon Base. While that is some good news I still believe the Moon Base needed more time in the storyline, I still think the Moon Base being pushed aside was doing it unjust.

Hopefully what I’ve been hearing is true, and the final piece of DLC does it just.

Tagged: borderlands 2gearbox software2k GamesXbox 360PS3PCMoon Base

10th June 2013

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Top 7 Saints Row Activities

We all know Grand Theft Auto is the king of sandbox games, but Saints Row is coming closer and closer to taking that crown. Never before has a sandbox game come even close to being compared to Grand Theft Auto and held a strong argument for why it might be better. Some gamers say that Saints Row is Grand Theft Auto’s opposite. Where Grand Theft Auto is trying to take a serious artistic approach, Saints Row is crazy, over the top and downright silly. What make Saints Row the epitome of madness is arguably the activities and mini-games they have you do. They’re all fun, they’re all silly and many will make you wonder what drugs the developers were on to come up with this stuff. There are so many I decided to list my top 7.

7) Demolition Derby

Let’s start off with a well-known activity in real life. We all love cars, fast and bulky cars alike, and we all love crashing said cars head on with shrapnel flying everywhere. It’s of course Demolition Derby, the manliest car sport in the world. The goal of this activity can be summed up in two objectives. 1. Crash into your opponents. 2. Don’t explode. While there is only one instance of this in Stilwater, playing those seven levels never loses its charm, and sometimes the AI can be really brutal, with four car pile ups being a common occurrence. Show any sign of slowing down or weakness and you’re guaranteed to be flipped onto your side

6) Fuzz

I’ve always wanted to be a cop in a sandbox game. The idea of being a corrupt cop driving around and beating people up in the name of the law is a sadistic pleasure. Well Volitian had the same idea and thus we have Fuzz, where you dress up as a cop and respond to emergency calls with extreme violence. The story is you’ve got to defame the Stilwater Police Department by dressing up as a cop and have a guy with a camera follow you as you kill people with weapons that are clearly not allowed in the force. Of course, when you’re stopping a fight between pirates and ninjas with a chainsaw, you know it’s got to be epic.

5)Professor Genki’s Super Ethical Reality Climax

Reality game shows were a hit back in the 90s and are still on prime time today. There’s even a channel dedicated solely to game shows named Challenge. So what else but for Saints Row to do its own version of a game show, and thus we have Professor Genki’s Super Ethical Reality Climax. As with Saints Row’s core gameplay, you’re objective is to kill everything that moves, but is super whacky! Enemies are all dressed as mascots while crazy pseudo-Japanese background music plays. It’s the most psychotic activity in Saints Row, especially when you can throw them into electric walls for extra points. The only problem is that some levels has infinite spawning Brutes which make getting to the end extremely difficult, and the time limit doesn’t help.

4) Septic Avenger

If I told you that you could spray shit at houses, people, and cars, you would think that either I was completely mental or that it wasn’t true. Well in Saints Row 2, you can. You take control of a septic tank and go around neighbourhoods spraying shit at everything to bring the prices down for someone to buy cheap, you win when you do a reach your target. Talk about doing someone’s dirty work. This activity is good simply because when we first saw this, we could not believe it. It’s disgusting but oddly hilarious spraying shit at cops that are trying to stop you and watch as they fly across the road in a jet of shit.

3) Tank Mayhem

Tank Mayhem is something we all did in Grand Theft Auto, we spawned a tank and just went on a rampage, blowing up cars, running over screaming pedestrians and causing as much mayhem as we could before we died. Well Saints Row made that an activity. Everything we love from using a tank is here and by god is it fun. Your objective is to cause a certain amount of damage in terms of money by destroying anything that moves. There are also high valued objects which give you a high bonus, but are hard to get to. Saints Row ups the ante by making the explosions more fun to look at. They say Grand Theft Auto does tanks best but until GTA V has cars that explode, do numerous flips in the air as the remains of the driver ragdolls into the sky while on fire, I’m not convinced.

2) Insurance Fraud

Prat fall. That’s all I can say for this activity. Ok, so I’ve got to at least elaborate on my opinion, so here it is. In a nutshell you press LT and RT to do a prat fall and the more damage you receive from collision the more money you get. To get money you need to get hit by oncoming cars and being thrown into the air Team Rocket style. Hilarity ensues from how reality is completely removed and cartwheeling to victory. I have had so much fun seeing how far I can go from one hit and how many cars you can hit without falling to the ground. Plus Pratfall, makes me giggle every time.

1) Crowd Control

Ever wanted to be a bouncer and get rid of fans in crazy and silly way? Well now you can! In Crowd Control, you take the role of a bouncer whose job is to protect a celebrity by removing the hecklers and pyschos. You have two objectives, keep the celeb’s meter down while making as much money as you can. This is what makes it the best activity, for how you get rid of the hecklers depends on how much money you make. While you can easily punch them out, the real money’s in grabbing them and throwing them into objects conveniently placed around the place. What’s unique is that the objects are different in each location. A trampoline that flings them into the ocean is found at the gym while a jet engine is found in the airport level. Let me tell you, throwing a heckler into the engine and watching them dissolve into red mist is so satisfying and funny to the point where I’m holding my sides laughing. The numerous ways you can kill hecklers in this activity will have you coming back again and again to try and beat your high score.

Tagged: Saints RowVolition IncTHQXbox 360PS3PCSandboxActivity

11th May 2013

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iPod Gaming Round 1

So I managed to mash up my hand a few days ago and I’ve been unable to write properly for a while, which is annoying me considering I had a post on Final Fantasy XIII 2 planned for Thursday. Regardless, I’ve been playing both FFXIII-2 and some games on my new iPod Touch. I can tell you right now, anyone dumb enough to disregard the iPod/iPhone gaming market as nothing more than pandering to ‘casuals’ needs a good kick up their arse once I’ve pulled their head out, because the games I’ve been playing have been extremely fun when I’m on the move. These are just a few I’ve been playing.

1)      Sonic Dash

When I first saw this game on the app store, I didn’t know what to make of it. It’s definitely from SEGA and I was curious. The game itself is rather simple but strangely addictive, you swipe the screen left and right to change lanes, collect rings and boxes while dodging obstacles and spikes. The game has three locations which you can switch to and from at the end of each stage, there’s the classic Green Hill Zone, Seaside Hill Zone and a new Aztec Zone which you start out from. Each look different but are the same in game regards. A Seaside Hill remix constantly plays while you play and thanks to Sonic Paradox’s ‘Seaside Denied’ it’s hard not for me to sing the lyrics. It’s fun and I’m always trying to get a higher score and collect the puzzle pieces.

2)      Temple Run 2

We all know about Temple Run and I managed to download its sequel and I must say I’m pretty impressed with what I got. Having multiple branching paths and fast paced action had me glued to this game for ages at a time. The upgrade system and power-ups gives advantages when running and the more you run the faster you go, adding to the danger of running into an object. Tilting the screen trying to collect as many coins as possible and being lucky enough to run into a green gem always makes me want to go back to the game when waiting for something.

3)      Simpsons Game: Tapped Out

What can I say about this one? Aside from the fact that the game focuses around grinding and once you’ve told all your characters to do a task you’re locked out from getting them do to something else. While pretty mediocre in itself having the characters from the game offers some pretty funny dialogue. However, the thing requires an internet connection for my iPod, which is hard when you’re in a car and Wi-Fi is unavailable. So I removed it from my iPod, I despise games that require me to always be online just to play a game I plan on playing on my own and outside. Typical EA, they have NO excuse to enforce always online to a FREE game. I’m gonna do a full rant on this game later.

4)      Free2Die

You take control of a survivor in a zombie apocalypse and have the task of surviving as long as you can against waves of ever growing zombie horde. Interestingly enough the game uses touch screen controls with the analogue sticks on the screen, so you move your thumbs in the direction you want to move and to shoot. There are unique enemies that take more damage and weapons and characters to unlock that give you a better chance at surviving the onslaught of undead. It’s a fun little game that rewards quick thinking and accuracy.

5)      Feast or Famine

An interesting game where you’re a hunter in Aztec times and you need to kill animals while running so you don’t starve. Interesting the graphics mimic stick figures but it plays extremely well, animation is superb and it reminds me of call drawings. At first the gameplay was a bit boring, aiming with spears is rather hard and I tend to hit the ground more than the buffalos, but when I was able to get the boomerang, it became much more fun. The star ratings are extremely hard to get, getting three stars means killing at least 90% of the animals which is mighty hard as they go pretty fast.

So those are the iPod games I’ve been playing recently. There are a ton more recommended for me in the app store, and since they’re all free there’s no harm in trying them. Expect another 5 soon.

Tagged: iPod TouchAppleSonic DashSimpsons Game Tapped OutTemple Run 2Feast or FamineFree2DieApp Games

30th April 2013

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Game Dev Tycoon and How it Defeats Piracy

So there is something that happened in the Indie market that made me chuckle a lot. It’s really bitter irony on the end of those that are pirates and something every developer should look at and take notes.

The game I’m referring to is called Game Dev Tycoon by Green Heart Games. It’s a game where you make games to sell to a virtual consumer base. There’s an inception joke I believe somewhere in a game where you make games. But that’s not what’s important. You see, Green Heart Games devised a devious plan. The game is DRM free (Thank God) and they decided to send a cracked version to all the major torrent sites they could find.

Sounds like suicide right? Sending a game you need to make a profit in order to survive, what are they thinking? Well, Green Heart Games are sneaky.

What they did to the cracked version was add a few lines of coding in it to make the game impossible to complete. They made it so that the pirates’ in game companies would find that games they released would be heavily pirated to the point where the company couldn’t make a profit and pirates would ultimately lose.

When I first heard about this I couldn’t help but burst out in laughter, Green Heart Games had successfully trolled the pirates with bitter irony, giving them a taste of their own medicine. It’s utter genius, plus they released the pirated version themselves, meaning they got most of the pirates before someone else cracked it.

You see THIS is how you tackle piracy. DRM barely works and often makes the game unplayable for those who bought the game legally, ensuring a cracked version of the game is unplayable means that the pirates have ultimately failed. It’s like Serious Sam 3 and the invincible Purple Crab monster in cracked versions.

You know I might even buy the game myself, I think they deserve my money for being that awesome.

Well done Green Heart Games.

Tagged: game dev tycoonGreen Heart GamesDRMPiracyOwned!IndiePC

25th April 2013

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Resident Evil 2 - The Secret Tutorial

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I’m sure many of you are wondering about this particular post. Doesn’t seem to make sense does it. Resident Evil 2 had a tutorial? They never told us about a tutorial, are you sure it exists? Well, my readers, much like Portal, Resident Evil 2’s tutorial was sneaky in how it taught you the controls and its tricks.

I’ll put it simple, the beginning of the game where you run through the streets of Raccoon City was the tutorial. Yes, I understand it sounds dumb but bear with me, because I’m going to hit you with a shit load of explanation. Also, I’ve got the Gamecube version of Resident Evil 2.

There are 7 rooms in the tutorial which the map dubs as ‘Streets of Raccoon City’:

·         Wreckage street

·         Kendo’s Gunstore

·         Back Alley Basketball Court

·         Billboard stairway

·         Liquor front street

·         Bus 33 Midtown

·         Emergency Wreckage Street

These aren’t their official names, but  considering what is in each of these streets I think they’re fitting names. Now, this tutorial doesn’t directly tell you what to do, instead it assumes you actually read the booklet that came with the game when back then they were actually worth reading because they gave you tips. There aren’t any pop ups that tell you ‘press B to run’ right at the beginning. So here we go.

Ok, we’re playing on normal (because that’s how the game SHOULD be played) and right now we’ve got the opening cutscene. Exposition about the first Resident Evil then how Leon and Claire got stuck in the mess that is the Raccoon City outbreak. I’m going to be playing as Leon. If you haven’t already watched the opening cinematic, I would suggest doing so, click here.

So some twit in a gas truck collides with us and huge explosions galore! This is where we begin to take control and immediately we’re thrown into chaos.

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Real pretty isn’t it? So now here’s where the tutorial gives you its first lesson. You notice that in the screenshot above that two zombies have appeared crawling out of the burning wreckage. You notice that these two were not there present in the cutscene. This teaches you that zombies can come from anywhere, even behind you.

So you run and immediately blocked off by two zombies shuffling towards you with the intent of eating your brains. You check your inventory and realise you have just a clip of bullets, nowhere near the amount to take down the two in front and the two that are shuffling towards you. Now, the position of them leaves a pretty big opening to the side, which allows you to easily run past them. So you do. What you didn’t know was that the game taught you that some enemies can be run past with ease.

There’s a fifth zombie standing idly to the side as you run further down the street but you ignore it because it’s out of the way and poses no threat. Not only does this reinforce the previous lesson but also shows that you can choose not to kill some zombies if they’re not a threat, almost like choosing to save bullets.

The next zombie however is a tough one to pass by. He’s positioned between two cars and there’s only enough room for one person to move. You can’t go round him so you have to go through him. Fortunately this zombie only takes two bullets to go down but not dead. Of course you could always try shooting him again, but with the other zombies shuffling and with only 16 bullets left, which you really don’t wanna spend on one zombie you can now run past, you opt to ignore him and keep moving. Secretly, you’ve been taught that some zombies may not need to be entirely killed and can be ignored if taken down.

So the game secretly teaches you several lessons in the first area alone and gives you enough time to figure out the controls if you picked this game up without playing the first.

Moving onto Kendo’s Gun Shop. You enter and the music stops. You take a step forward and meet your first survivor: Kendo. He speaks to you then locks the door you just came through. After that you have time to look around. There are two counters, each with a pack of bullets. You go right and pick up the first then left for the second.

After the second, zombies burst through the windows and grab poor Kendo, eating his fat belly as he drops his shotgun. This cutscene shows you that zombies can appear in places you thought were safe.

Now you’ve got a choice. You now have 30 spare bullets and 16 in your clip and four zombies blocking your way to the shotgun. You can either run out the back door and keep your ammo or sacrifice the bullets you just acquired to take down the zombies and get the shotgun early on but continue on with limited ammo.

This teaches you risk and reward, where some actions may not be as beneficial as others and whether or not you risk something for an item or weapon.

I always take down the zombies for the shotgun, you’ll understand why in a little while.

So killing the zombies and taking the shotgun, you leave via the back door. You’re now in a place I call Basketball Court Alley. You turn the corner and find two zombies banging on the fence near the doorway. Right now you can’t open the door for some reason and alley goes down further. There might be something down there that could either open the door or lead to somewhere else.

But when you get halfway down the alley the door opens and three zombies shuffle forward down the alley towards you. This teaches you that exploring the area may reveal the way or open doors.

Naturally you’re first instinct is to take out the zombies but if you keep on going you’ll find a pack of bullets. It teaches you that going off the beaten path may reveal items.

Killing the zombies and entering the gate on the other end will lead you to another back alley with some stairs. This teaches you how to go up and down stairs, which is just pressing A. It’s difficult I know, but you need to know this, there’s a boss later on that is defeated by going up stairs.

After going and up and down stairs like the pro you are, you see two zombies on the other side of a dumpster, and they’re unable to climb onto it. You can also shoot them as they’re fleshy chests are exposed. This teaches you that some places allow you to block the zombies but also allows you to kill them with ease.

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You can also climb onto the dumpster and the zombies begin to puke at you, which is gross and seems to harm you. Maybe they puke acid now or something. So yeah, zombies now have different ways to attack you.

The gate will take you to a street instead of another alley way and immediately you hear the sound of chomping. Make your way down the street and see the horror. Four zombies…..Are EATING someone! The horror!

But seriously, when you get to them you find that the zombies are the centre piece of this shot, and you can find yourself being blocked out by rotten flesh. So there are now dynamic shots, more so than in the first game. So you should have enough bullets to take out the zombies, but if you managed to miss a zombie that was dead in front of you or decided to shoot the wall, there IS the option to run right past them.

Next up is the number 33 Midtown Bus, which conveniently crashed into a barricade. Enter there and you find two zombies. But watch out, because one of them is CRAWLING! That’s right, zombies can now crawl meaning you’ve got to aim downwards to kill it, plus the bus is very tight leaving absolutely no room to run past, so go through them with either your trusty pistol or the shiny new shotgun you looted from a dead guy’s corpse, unless you chickened out and just ran for it instead of collecting it.

The last area is less of a tutorial mission and more of a testing ground to practise what you’ve already learnt before. As soon as you leave the bus you’re greeted by a zombie right in front of you and one to the right. You can either kill the one in front and give enough time to move out of the way of the zombie on the right, or run past both and try and take out the wall of zombies that block your path. Lessons including dodging and downing are reinforced in this room and the zombies here are entirely optional to kill. But once you’re done you can go through the side entrance and arrive in the front yard of The Raccoon City Police Department.

As soon as you enter that door, you are unable to return to the streets, you’re locked into the police department and have no way of returning. Sucks I know, that bus was pretty awesome with all the dead passengers and all that jazz, but they block it because after all those areas they think you’re ready. Plus the zombies don’t respawn so there’s no way to retry them.

So that’s the tutorial of Resident Evil 2.

However….

There is one more part that takes place in the precinct itself. After meeting Marvin and unlocking both doors you enter the west wing and are greeted by a particularly nasty monster known as the Licker.

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Yeah, not very pretty. After the brief cutscene of him dropping down you realise that beast doesn’t go straight for you, instead just sits there idly, but when you move it comes at you and swipes at your legs, or tries to lick you. You may not get it during the first playthrough but from the way the cutscene ends where the Licker drops down before you regain control it shows you that the Licker is actually blind. This is where the shotgun you got comes in handy, it takes a lot of bullets but only two shotgun shells to kill it.

With all this, you may not have realised but Resident Evil 2 secretly taught you everything you needed to survive in the first few areas in the game. Clever isn’t it?

Tagged: Resident EvilResident Evil 2capcomPS1N64GamecubeXBLAPSNSurvival Horror

21st April 2013

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Borderlands 2 - The Most Depressing Mission Ever

Oh boy, this is gonna be a short post so sorry if you were expecting a three page review on a game.

I picked up Borderlands 2 last week for my laptop and you’ll be unsurprised to know that I rather enjoy it. Dark humour, tons of missions and even more guns with variations that could only a madman could think up of (More on that in an upcoming post). But there’s one mission that really felt depressing.

The mission is a trivial mission given by everyone’s favourite little bucket-of-bolts Clap Trap. Turns out it’s his birthday and wants you to invite people to his birthday party. Of course everyone on the invite list said no to the request and that wasn’t what got to me. Instead it was the consequences of it. As soon as you get back Clap Trap says they must have gotten lost on the way and would eventually come. You know the truth but I guess we never tell him. Instead the party starts with music.

It was here I just felt really depressed. I understand Clap Trap is meant to be a rather annoying robot, but just seeing how lonely he truly is just got to me, especially on his birthday, unless robots don’t really have birthdays and this is just something he decided to have. But seeing what he was going through kinda hit a heart string with me. I had to stop halfway through and just stare at the ceiling, and this wasn’t a ‘stare at the ceiling because it’s better than the drivel I’m currently playing’ stare, it was a ‘oh god it’s just like real life’ stare, the one where you come to a realisation about yourself through the game.

Loneliness. That’s what Clap Trap made me feel. The feeling of solitude as you play a game on your own really got to me. Knowing that people don’t appreciate who you truly are even if you’re as nice as you can be, even if you’re generally nice. It’s heart breaking. Maybe Clap Trap and I have something in common.

Or maybe I’m just thinking too deep into a game where you kill monsters and psychopaths with violent and satisfying guns. Did Gearbox Games made that mission with the intention of making a depressing scenario and show how lonely Clap Trap is, or is it a side product?

I’ll let you guys draw your own conclusions.

Tagged: Borderlands 2xbox 360ps3PCGearbox SoftwarefpsRPGPandora

11th April 2013

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Top 7 Sonic Stages

Alright, I know I was meant to do my review on Gears of War Judgement next considering it’s a topic I really need to get off my chest, but right now there is another idea I’ve had for a while and I felt that right now I’m currently saving up to get Sonic Generations for the PC, I might as well go through this. Many of you might not know but I am a fan on Sonic the Hedgehog, maybe not devoted like many are, especially in the fan base side, but I always find myself turning on my GameCube and selecting a Sonic game.  So, in true fashion, I’ve decided to narrow down my top 7 Sonic stages. I’ve decided that only 1 stage per game is allowed, otherwise half of it would be from Sonic Adventure 2.

7) Music Plant (Sonic Advanced 2)

They say that music is what makes a stage truly special, and Music Plant is no exception. In fact, the whole level is based upon the concept of musical instruments. You find many of Sonic’s iconic obstacles have been given a make-over to fit the music theme. Pipes have been replaced with brass instruments, springs are now music blocks and the enemies now play instruments. What makes this stage feel truly special is that the pallet matches the theme, and there’s even a chance of making music, some objects produce a note similar to Minecraft music blocks. Truly this stage sets out with ambition and nails it on the head.

6) Egg Fleet (Sonic Heroes)

Well this was surprising even for me. Sonic Heroes in my case is the second weakest game in Sonic’s line-up, even worse than Shadow the Hedgehog for a lot of reasons, but Egg Fleet…..It’s a guilty pleasure for me. Trying to survive the barrage of cannon fire as you hold onto the gyro-blades and jumping from ship to ship in awesome manners as the background shows hundreds of ships in the Eggman Fleet was always a great moment. While it may have been brought down by the slow segments with fly and power, just the concept of running through a giant air fleet is awesome. It could have gotten higher if it was in a different game like Sonic Adventure 2, but even if it’s stuck with Heroes, it still one I enjoy thoroughly.

5) Chemical Plant (Sonic the Hedgehog 2)

The second stage of the second game was one I always loved. In retrospect I have no idea why, maybe it was the multiple pathways or the feel of the level, I can’t put my finger on it. But one moment always sticks out for my, and that was jumping up on platforms as water slowly rises. This was a test of how well you acted under constant threat of drowning and how skilled you were at reaction timing. While it may have only been a small fraction of the stage, it was certainly the most memorable and what made Chemical Plant one I will always remember.

4) Green Hill Zone (Sonic the Hedgehog)

Yes, the very first stage in the Sonic series. I can’t say anything that hasn’t already been said about by someone else. It was a great introduction to the game and taught you the controls in mere seconds. Colourful, easy and a good hook to what would be one of the most iconic series in gaming, we all love it, don’t deny it.

3) Machine Labyrinth (Sonic Rush Adventure)

I love stages that give us multiple pathways to our objective, Machine Labyrinth is the pinnacle of multiple pathways. The multiple pathways in this stage and the number of ways to enter and exit makes this stage hard to memorise but also very fun to play through. Even if you play this stage 10 times (which I have) you’ll always find at least one new way to get to the end chest. With the use of the new boost mechanic and the new glider found only here, getting from A to B in the fastest time possible will have you going to your DS whenever you’re stuck on a plane. I know I did….Stupid EasyJet.

2) City Escape (Sonic Adventure 2)

We all know Escape from the City, that short, simplistic and addicting tune and we all know the stage it was played in. City Escape was so simple, so addictive and much like Green Hill Zone taught you all the new mechanics the game had to offer. Rail grinding, point scoring and chase scenes were all presents and easy enough for you to learn but challenging enough so that doing it well gave you a reward, whether that be an item bubble or access to a Chao box. Seeing how many tricks I could do on the board section at the beginning and trying to collect all the item boxes is something I enjoyed a lot and still do to this day, though there is one that beats it.

1) Sky Troops (Shadow the Hedgehog)

Put down the pitchforks and hold up with those angry e-mails, because even you have to admit Sky Troops was a pretty impressive level. Like I said with Egg Fleet, the concept of being sky high with hundreds of ships around you is brought here to Shadow the Hedgehog and evolved to near perfection. Jumping from platform to platform and running through spiralling floating ruins while an Egg Destroyer fires shells at you from a distance was probably the best concept in Shadow the Hedgehog. And the music….YouTube it if you haven’t heard the tune but I can guarantee your ears will melt. Beautiful, colourful and full of surprises, even going through a storm cloud and dodging debris on a flyer, make this my favourite stage in the Sonic series.

Tagged: Sonic the HedgehogSonic HeroesSonic AdvancedSonic Adventureshadow the hedgehogSegagamecubexboxPS2GenesisDSSonic Team