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

Arcade Games Rocking My Summer

The slow retail game release this summer has me catching up on Xbox Live Arcade games. I’ve been playing them a lot and finally got around to putting some review up for them.  Here is a run down of my playing for the last month with links.

I know Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes has been out for a while but I finally was able to put some quality time into playing (like 20+ hours of time). The loads times can get a bit annoying but the game play is so fun that I can ignore the long load times.  Clash of Heroes is a strategy + RPG hybrid and I really like how the two pieces get put together. Sort of like how Puzzle Quest has merged two game styles, but Clash of Heroes has a completely new battle mechanic that I like much better than Puzzle Quest because it requires more strategy.  My full review is up here.

 

I never did buy Splosion Man. I never finished the demo because I suck at platformers.  So, no, I do not know why I thought I’d be good at Ms Splosion Man.  However, I am able to complete levels in Ms Splosion Man. Not anywhere near the par times but still at least they are getting completed without using the skip to checkpoint option. I can only play for a few levels before getting frustrated and quitting but that has more to do with my sucking than anything else.  My fill review is up here.

 

Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team is a lot of fun, but I really don’t know what is up with THQ recently.  The have a co-op game here with no support for playing over Xbox Live.  Solo the game is fun but co-op would make this great.  Too bad I’ll never get to experience that.  I’m not going to even get into how stupid they are to can the Red Faction series or the crap that is Homefront.  I’m hoping that Space Marine is as goods the trailers look because it has a lot of potential.  Anyway, back to Kill Team… lots of mindless Orc killing.  The game is only about 4 hours long but there is some replay value with multiple character classes and a survival mode. My fill review is up here.

 

Boulder Dash-XL caught me by surprise.  I knew it was coming out but I was not expecting very much.  Instead for $10 there are over 150 levels, 4 game modes, plus the original Boulder Dash is included.  I’m not a fan of some of the graphics but the gameplay is great fun for me and my kid. The difficulty level ramps up slowly while keeping things challenging.  I played tons of the original as a kid and this re-make is a great way to enjoy the game without digging out an emulator.   Full review is up here.

Bastion Impressions

So I got the change over the last few days to play this week’s Xbox Live Arcade title, Bastion, early to review it for XBLA Ratings.  I’m going to keep you guessing as to my opinion until you read the review. So, I’ll quit dragging this on.  Here is the link for the review.

Trenched Impressions

I’ve been having a lot of fun playing Trenched co-op with the folks from AGErocks.com (like I ever play with anyone else). I have a quick review up, here, on XBLARatings.com.  It is a fun shooter that adds a little strategy along the way.  I’m not going to rehash what little I did post in that review, but someone please tell me they are making some DLC for Trenched already.  I need more.

Red Faction Armageddon Review

I know things have been scarce around here since E3. I’ve been playing a few different games so I’ll try to get some posts up about them.  Or at least links to the XBLA reviews I already posted.  Kicking things off with these catch up posts I’m going with Red Faction Armageddon.  It is not very often I play through a solo campaign twice, but with RFA I did them back to back.  I played through the first time on Normal and enjoyed the story.  After I beat it a New Game + mode unlocked which let me carry over my maxed out character and allows for cheats (like unlimited ammo) to be used in the game without effecting achievements.  So my second time through was on Insane mode with all the rockets I could fire.  It was a lot of fun going through just wrecking shop.

I did miss the open world aspect from Red Faction: Guerrilla and the strategy that brought.  There was still a lot of destruction but this was a completely linear experience.  It was not as fun as RFG since I could not just wander around the open world smashing stuff but RFA is still a really great game.  The story has some truly funny moments between the characters and even pokes fun at some other games (Gears for one) with the dialog being almost direct quotes but in different situations. There were even a couple really unexpected twists in the story which caught me by surprise.

I did also try out the co-op mode which is similar to Horde mode with waves of enemies coming at you needing killed.  Although there is a lot less hiding/defending in RFA’s Infestation mode that in Gears. I played in a 4 player group and we worked through the 30 waves without too much trouble. We could have increased the difficulty but we were having to much fun seeing who could get the most kills.

I am dissapointed in the lack of multiplayer verses modes.  In RFG those matches were a lot of fun and it is a shame it is missing in RFA. Still, Red Faction Armageddon is well worth playing through. I just hope the next Red Faction game brings back multiplayer.

My E3 2011 Hands On List

Looking over my list of posts from this week it is just now sinking in how many games I saw and played at E3 2011. I have a lengthy post on AGErocks.com covering some of my general thoughts on E3 this year, but here is a listing of the individual games I covered as well.

Crimson Alliance
Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet
Warhammer 40,000: Kill Team
Orcs Must Die!
Trenched
Rock of Ages
Toy Soldiers: Cold War
Bastion
Twisted Metal
Dead Rising 2: Off The Record
Medieval Moves
Skyrim
Battlefield 3
Bioshock Infinte
SSX
Gotham City Imposters
Batman: Arkham City
Torchlight II

Dungeon Siege III Demo and Dungeon Runners Quick Thoughts

A Dungeon Siege III demo hit Xbox Live this week and I’ve been enjoying it.  The camera angles get a little annoying at spots but otherwise it is pretty fun. Only 2 of the 4 classes from the full game are available in the demo, but those two are both pretty fun.  The one big complaint I keep hearing is that you have a separate character for co-op and single player. The developers did the intentionally so that the story plays correctly and you don’t have 4 of the same character playing at once.  It would have been nice to have one character that plays both co-op and solo, but I don’t think doing it separately like this is such a big deal. I’m looking forward to playing some co0op when it releases.

I’ve also been playing some Dungeon Runners this week as well. No, not the MMORPG. This web based rougelike is simple but really fun.  You have one screen and 5 characters to get to the final treasure.  Kill the enemies and the loot; then get scored for how well you do. If you have 5 minutes I would highly recommend checking it out.  Be sure to read through the instructions 🙂

Dungeons & Dragon Daggerdale Review

I’ve been playing Dungeons & Dragon Daggerdale for the last week co-op with some guys from AGErocks.com and while it has glitches it is still a lot of fun.  I’m not going to rehash my whole review so you can check it out here.  If you have some friends you like co-op hack-n-slash games be sure to check it out.

Tip for Getting Started in Brink

So, I’ve been playing Brink for a couple weeks now and I’m completely hooked. My review is up over on VGrevolution but having spent a lot more time with Brink I wanted to touch on a couple things.  I’ve seem a lot of people not really happy with Brink, but it seems like they also have not taken the time to get familiar with the game’s mechanics. Brink is a complex game with a lot of stuff to learn and unlock, but I’ve found it to also be quite rewarding the more I play and get to know the ins and outs.

One thing I’ve found is that a lot of people skip over the Challenge mode until they find out that is where some of the weapon attachments unlock.  Instead a new player should really start with the Challenges.  They are easier to complete with a lower level character and the weapon unlocks are crucial to being able to play well in multiplayer matches.  Run through the one and two start challenges before doing anything else with your character.  Then, if you are wanting to get all the achievements run the three start challenges too.

After completing the challenges take a few matches to become familiar with the various guns. Then, go through and customize them to fit your play style.  Personally, I like adding a Muzzle Break and a Grip to make the gun more easy to handle and aim, and then a red dot scope and a larger magazine.

Keep in mind that you cannot unlock all of the upgrades for just 1 character.  You can however unlock all the general upgrades and all of one classes upgrades for one character.  Once you have completed the challenges with 1 character the weapon attachments are available for all of your setups. Take your first character and try out a few of the abilities for each class. Once you find the one or two classes you prefer start a new character and focus on one class for them.  Getting up to level 10 does not take very long and that gives you half of the unlocks for the class you choose.

When you are playing with bots on your team be sure to hit up on the D-Pad often.  This announces to them you are going for the primary objective.  If you do not they will just wonder around and not be especially useful.  By announcing where you are headed the bots at least will come along to the same area and provide some additional targets for the enemies.  The bots are not as good as playing with a real team who communicates and works together but they are not too bad either.

It is going to take a few matches to get the hang of each objective type, the various maps and all the various strategies. Stick with a teammate whenever you can and watch for flanking paths.  Initially it seems like there are a lot of choke-points on the maps but if you take the time to look around you will find plenty of paths for getting behind enemies.  Especially, if you watch the light character bots. They will use paths that are only accessible to the light class and that you probably would never have otherwise seen.

Hopefully these pointers will help you get started in Brink.  If you take the time to learn what is going on in this objective based game it can be a lot of fun.

James Bond: Blood Stone Review

I played through James Bond: Blood Stone last weekend since I was waiting for Brink to release. You play as the Daniel Craig version of James Bond with a story that fits could easily fit in with the movie franchise.  Overall, I enjoyed the game and the story, but it is definitely a rental. I easily completed the whole campaign in about 5 hours.  Like most Bond games there is a mix of on foot and in car missions.  These missions give you a good mix of stealth, gun fights and melee combat. The cover system works well to let you easily jump from cover to cover without getting up. There are a decent mix of guns to use and since most of them are pretty accurate swapping with whatever is lying around is never much of a big deal. I enjoyed being able to sneak up on enemies and silently take then out, and then turn the corner and open fire to clear a room. These missions were all a pretty good length in that there are multiple sequential objectives but not so many that it gets annoying.

The driving levels are the one big thing I really did not like. I was expecting some fun driving levels since the developer, Bizarre Creation, made the awesome racing game Blur. Instead the driving is terrible.  Instead of the normal overtake style missions you would expect the driving levels are instead about keeping on the course and not letting the enemy get too far ahead. I could probably live with these style of driving missions where you have to complete the whole course if the cars were fun to drive.  Instead, the cars are a real pain to handle and control. The driving levels have a very specific path you have to drive and because they are way to long it becomes a matter of memorizing the course and where you need to turn or drift.

If it was not for the driving levels I would have said that James Bond: Blood Stone is great rent. But, I almost quit playing after the first driving level because I had so much trouble completing even the first checkpoint.  It is a shame the driving is so bad because the rest of the game is pretty fun. Still, if you like Bond games and can deal with some driving level suckage then check it out.

Portal 2 = Game of the Year

I realize we’re still pretty early in 2011, in terms of game releases, with big titles like Gears of War 3 and Battlefield 3 still coming out, but I don’t see how a game can be better and more fun than Portal 2. It has the perfect mix of story, humor, challenge and mechanics.  I’m going to try and talk about Portal 2 without giving any spoilers so things may be a little vague but when you play you’ll thank me for not getting anything spoiled.   I played through the campaign and then immediately after completing it restarted it again and got all of the solo achievements.  Now on to the rest of the co-op. Things start off very familiar if you played Portal but quickly new game mechanics start getting added in.  By the end of the game you’ve got multiple new mechanics you have to pair together to complete fairly difficult puzzles. It is not that they are hard physically to complete with a lot of fast portal switching but the take some real thought to figure out how to complete them.  The earlier levels you can experiment a lot more and figure out how to complete rooms, but later on there are a lot of traps that will kill you if you are not careful.  I don’t mind this though as it made me think about my actions instead of just running in all crazy.

Even when I was stuck on levels for a while I did not mind because the story and interactions are so funny.  Throughout the whole game the interactions are really well done and the voice acting of them is excellent.  Plus many of the levels have fun easter eggs that you will only find if you stop and look around for a while. The really reward exploration and finding unique ways to complete levels.  Doing something unexpected almost always rewards you with some witty remark or sarcasm. Valve also fills in a lot of the back story behind how the Portal testing got started and who the various characters are in relation to each other.  All of this is done without your main character ever saying a word.

I’m not really doing Portal 2 justice here but just rent Portal 2, play for a few hours and you will be hooked. It is that awesome!