Jigsaw's Blog: My thoughts on games (and other stuff)

Fez is Amazing

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For the few of you who have not tried Fez yet on Xbox Live Arcade you really should. It is one of the most interesting puzzle platformers I have ever played.  I have a full review up on XBLAratings.com here, but I almost think it is better to go into it not knowing about the game.  If you cannot handle that the trailer here will give you an idea of what it is like.

http://youtube.com/#/watch?v=–gpfYwo5a4

Deep Black Episode 1 Reviewed

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I played through the XBLA release of Deep Black Ep 1this last week.  While the game has issues I still had fun with it overall.  My full review is up on XBLAratings.com here.  Anyone else try it, or at least the demo? Just curious what everyone else thought.  Must folks I think are still on Trials Evolution and have not tried it.

Anomaly Warzone Earth and The Splatters Reviews

Have a couple new reviews up on XBLA Ratings.

 

Anomaly Warzone Earth is pretty fun and I prefer it on Xbox Live Arcade over the other platforms I’ve tried it on.  My full review is here.

 

The Splatters I’m having a blast with.  It gets tough later on but is still really well done. My full review is here.

Armored Core V Review

I know I still need to get my Batman: Arkham City and Kingdom of Amalur: Reckonings reviews written, but in the meantime I’ve got a review for Armored Core V up over on VGrevolution. .You can check it out at http://www.vgrevolution.com/2012/03/armored-core-v-review/

 

 

6 Month Review Recap

Yes, I realize it has been months since I’ve posted anything on this blog. If you actually are still reading this I’m guessing you subscribe to the RSS.  So, thanks for not deleting me. I’m going to try and do better about regular posts. I’ve been working on Batman: Arkham City for a while now so hopefully I can get my review together for it soon.  Until then though I wanted to mention some of the reviews I’ve been posting on other sites in these last months.  Here is a rundown.

 

Defense Grid: You Monster DLC Review (XBLA) – Great tower defense game now with GLaDOS?  Yes please.I don’t care if the game is a couple years old.  Please keep releasing more DLC for it.

Slydris Review (PC – 9.2/10) – One of the most addictive games I’ve played in a long time. With modes that range from relaxing to challenging it has something for everyone.

SoulCalibur V Review (Xbox 360 – 8.2/10) – A lot of fun playing against friends.  Controls came back quickly even though I was really rusty.

Iron Brigade: Rise of the Martian Bear DLC Review (XBLA) – Challenging but a lot of fun.  Nice to see the added Survival mode even if it took a while for the DLC to release.

Puddle Review (XBLA – 7/10) – Why is this now on Android/iOS instead?

Orcs Must Die! Review (XBLA – 10/10) – So addicting. Gets brutally hard on Nightmare difficulty but feels so good when you win.

Dungeon Defenders Review (XBLA – 10/10) and the first DLC pack Dungeon Defenders Quest for the Lost Eternia Shards: Part 1 Review. I’m looking forward to the next 3 packs coming out and leveling up my Squire even more.

 

 

Xbox Live Indie Games Reviews

Hypership Still Out of Control  (9/10)

Escape Goat (9/10)

All Your Creeps (8/10)

Bodycount Review

I’ve been waiting for Bodycount to release since trying it out at E3 2010. I don’t play a lot of arcade shooters any more. Bodycount is not the best shooter of the year or anything but I did enjoy it quite a bit.  It is a shame that the Codemaster closed the studio behind the game because it looks great visually. The controls are not perfect but it was still playable.  I’ll get to those later.  First, though, back to the game’s visuals. There are a three main areas you get to play through. You have a section in Africa with dirty, shanty town styled complex. Then you go to Asia, mostly at night, where you work through a section of city.  Finally, the other portions take place inside enemy the different enemy complexes which are sparse white and black corridors. I like that the setting changes pretty frequently so you don’t get stuck in one area with the same visual style the whole time.

I found the game’s story a little hard to follow, but that is probably because I skipped the mission briefings at the start of each level. I always had enough info to complete any given mission, but it took me a while to catch on to the over-arching story. However, I did not really mind not knowing why I was taking the various missions. For me Bodycount was not about the narrative, but just going in and killing anything that moves.

The game got more fun for me as I got further into it.  Mostly because the weapons and abilities you unlock later on are just more fun to use.  The very last light machine gun I unlocked became my preferred weapon as soon as I started using it.  You have 4 abilities hat unlock during the first missions.  One gives you an adrenaline boost that I only ever used to escape form the end of the few levels that have a timer.  The second one makes your shots into explosive rounds.  I tried to save that one for when there were boss fights and the larger heavy enemies that take a lot of damage to drop.  The other two were my go to abilities.  Most commonly I would save up enough intel to use the area of effect ability that killed all enemies near me.  The last ability calls in a massive air strike which is great in the outdoor levels for clearing out groups of enemies.

As an arcade shooter my expectations are not as high as they would be for a AAA title like Gears of War or Battlefield.  However, I do still expect the controls to be smooth.  Unfortunately, for me, this is the one area that Bodycount has issues. The options for controls are limited the basic things like inverting the thumb stick.  So, you are stuck with their default setup. This puts both the cover mechanic and looking down the iron sites/zooming in the Left Trigger.  You pull the trigger half way to zoom and then all the way to also go into cover.  While in cover your feet are planted but you can still move your upper body to look around or over cover.  This got me killed quite a few times early on as I just wanted to zoom in but not go into cover.  I would find myself a sitting duck out in the open as I naturally pull the left trigger all the way to zoom (like Battlefield’s iron site’s control). The other control issue I had was with the sensitivity.  When I had it set for a good turn speed for running around it was way too touchy when I has it zoomed in.  So, I routinely would be spraying bullets back and forth across an enemy trying to get it centered.

Overall I found Bodycount to be a fun rental. It got better as I played more since I got use to not pulling the left trigger all the way and the better weapons unlocked.  With Gears of War 3 releasing in 2 days I doubt many people will go back to play Bordycount but if you have a free weekend sometime it is worth checking out.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution Review

I did not have a lot of expectations going into Deus Ex: Human Revolution because I never played Deus Ex and I had not really read much about the game.  Deus Ex: Human Revolution just happened to be releasing at a time when there was not a lot out and a few friends were talking about it so decided to give it a shot.  I had a lot of fun playing through Deus Ex: Human Revolution.  I finished the game on Normal at about 26 hours according to Raptr.

What makes Deus Ex: Human Revolution really stand out for me is that in every situation (other than boss fights – more on that later) there are at least 3 way, if not more, to complete the objective at hand.  It all depends on how you want to augment your character.  You can hack your way through taking over every computer, camera, turret and robot.  You can sneak through getting past entire sections by looking for hidden side paths.  Or, you can make character a tough soldier and just shoot everyone in site.

The game clearly is designed for stealth game play through.  You get much more XP going stealth/non-lethal, and until you get at least a few upgrades the fights can be very hard to win.  I started off going mostly stealth and non-lethal.  There are some points this is very tough as you need to memorize enemy movement patterns and camera coverage.  For the first 1/3 to 1/2 I had fun doing this while hacking everything I could find.  Then I ran into some enemies whose actions in the game made me and and I started going more lethal.  I still would sneak around but then if enemies were open for shooting I’d take the shot. I still hacked pretty much everything in the game (I could not stop myself.  Even if I had the code for a panel I would hack it for the extra XP).

There were only 2 issues that I had with the game.  First, if you do not do the side missions before the main quests you lose the option to do them. In some cases it gives you a warning that going to an area will not allow you to return but other times you start a mission and then when it finished your side missions are just gone. So, be sure to always to any side missions first.  I generally do that anyway but there were some that were really far away so I figured I would do them later in the first act of the game.  Found out the hard way that I was not going to be doing them.  And since the main mission I did was over 2 hours of play time I did not really want to replay that section. Not a huge deal but still frustrating.

The other issue I have with Deus Ex: Human Revolution are the boss fights.  There are 3 main ones and there is no way around them.  In every single one you have to kill the enemy boss to continue.  And all 3 of them take a lot of damage finish.  It is weird that in a game where there are so many choices for every other area that the boss fights have just 1 way to win. It is especially frustrating if you’ve got your character upgraded for stealth and hacking since you are going to get destroyed by the bosses. The developers could easily have added hackable turrets or stealth related options to the boss fights but they did not.  It seems like a huge oversight on their part.  Not only do you have to kill the bosses but you have to do it with guns or explosions.  I got close enough to use melee attacks on a couple of the bosses and they deflected every single one.  So, stock up on grenades before fighting the bosses.

The game as a whole is great and well worth be playing.  To anyone who plays on the hardest setting and goes non-lethal with no detection I’m impressed. You have way more patience than I do.  Fr the rest of us normal people keep a few augmentation points on hand so you can upgrade to fit the situation at hand.

Dragon Age 2 Legacy DLC Review

I got a chance last week to play the Dragon Age 2 Legacy DLC and really enjoyed getting back into the Dragon Age world.  Hawke and company are pulled into a new mission when a gang attacks Hawke and his sibling.  To get to the bottom of why they leave Kirkwall and head to what turns out to be a giant prison.  Along the way in addition to the normal fighting and side quests we get some of the story of Hawke’s father filled in.

The DLC’s new areas are pretty linear which makes it easy to complete all the side-quests along the way. However, there are only a couple points during the DLC where you can travel back to Kirkwall to sell junk and stock up on potions.  So, plan accordingly before you go. You do however have access to your stash chest along the way a few times so you can drop extra stuff off there to make room in your inventory.  While these things are a little annoying it was not really that big of a deal to me.

I enjoyed playing through the DLC (which is not as long as you might thing for $10) because they made it more difficult than the main game with some fun new enemies.  It was nice to be challenged a little and not to just power through every enemy group.  The new enemies require a little more strategy as some can only be hurt from behind and others make duplicates clones of themselves.  The final boss was the only time where I actually died (and he killed me twice).  He has a lot of health and can only be hurt at certain points.  However on the my 3rd try I realized that I was trying to rush through the battle too much which was getting my companions killed.  When I took it slower so they could keep up with me we finished him off without anyone needing revived.

While I was a little disappointed the Legacy DLC was not longer it was still a lot of fun. It gives you some fun new equipment to play with and new achievements are always nice.

 

 

Red Faction: Armageddon – Path to War DLC Review

I just finished playing through the Path to War DLC for Red Faction: Armageddon that I started on my lunch break.  It was not very long for the $7 (560 Points) price, but I did enjoy it.  It consists of a handful of separate missions that fill in the back story of what happened before and after the main plot of Red Faction: Armageddon. In addition to the new story pieces there are two new weapons and a new tank you get to play with.  The new Sharpshooter gun was especially fun as it impales enemies to the wall. Plus it can take down a Berserker in 2 shots.

The way the missions tie together was pretty cool even though they each occur at separate times they follow the plot of events between Mason and Malice.  The very first mission you actually play as Malice setting the whole chain of events in motion. From there you see the steps leading up to the transformer getting destroyed and then what happens with Malice after the death of Hale.  It is a nice side story that fits well with the main game.

There are 10 new achievements that you can get in 1 playthrough as long as you pay attention.  Still, it is hard to justify $7 for 90 minutes of playing.  Yes, it is cheaper than a movie, but this should be $3 or $4 at most. I’d recommend waiting for it to go on sale unless you have a few extra dollars burning a hole in your virtual pocket.

Dungeon Siege III Review

So I finally finished playing through Dungeon Siege III this week.  I ended up playing the whole thing solo. My normal co-op partner either did not have the game or were not on when I was playing.  I had fun playing although I’m not sure I chose the best character to play solo. I went with Katarina who I liked but since all here attacks are ranged based there were times I found myself rolling away to get a few shots of and then repeat.  She would probably be better in a group where there are a few melee fighters to keep enemies distracted.  Playing solo you do have an AI partner so that helped some but he generally would just stand and fight whoever was close.Still, her ranged attacks get quite powerful as you progress so I never had too much trouble clearing enemies.

The game’s story was pretty good but a little fantasy generic at times.  I did enjoy the times when I got choices that actually effected things in the game world.  For example after stopping a group of striking cyclopes I got to determine if they should get better wages or not.  My choice there did not make huge changes in the story and the world but it did have an effect.  Little pieces like that add so it feels like my actions actually are forming the story of the game verses just playing through the story that the developers wanted to tell.

While I did enjoy the game I did have one issue with it.  It is slow at points.  A lot of times after finishing a quest you need to go back to wherever you got the quest to turn it in.  I don’t mind that, it is  a pretty common mechanic, what I did find annoying is the lack of a fast travel system or even a way to make your character sprint.  After I clear a whole large winding dungeon it is annoying to have to backtrack all the way through it to get back out.

Overall, I enjoyed DS3 and would play DLC for it or another game in the series.  Hopefully if there is a Dungeon Siege 4 your character will be persistent in solo and co-op play.