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    Sunday
    Mar162014

    Guild Wars 2 Review

     For more information on the rating click here

    This review has a long time coming, and I have to say that MMOs are always the hardest for anyone to review. So this is the review for the game as it is today, not what it once was. In this game you will get to basically create your character from the ground up, and you will be completing quests to help build your legend.

    Graphically this game looks amazing, I say this with being able to turn up the graphics to high. Now if you can't do that you are still going to be able to enjoy the game, maybe not in the crystal clear graphic sense, but there's still a ton of variety when it comes to places to explore, conquer, and seek refuge in. It is always very important to me to have your gear reflect what your character has actually equipped, and this game does just that. Sure there are times where you are going to wish that your ensemble was not as hideous as it looks, but sometimes you have to forsake fashion for protection. I do have to say I was not a fan of the cut scenes. With all these amazing graphics and places to do a cut scene in they choose to do a profile conversation between characters where their body motions seem jittery and odd.

    The music in the game definitely has some serious hints of the first Guild Wars, but they have also added to it. There are quite a few amazing pieces that I would actually like to have outside of game so that I could listen to it while I worked (actually I might have to go look for that once this review is done). The voice acting, overall, is well put together. Sure there are some acting jobs, for the random NPC that you might interact with a total of once that sounds like it could have been done better, but like I said, overall they were done well.

    The controls in the game are going to be like almost all MMOs, sure there's a couple of small differences such as using the 'f' key to investigate downed enemies for loot, but I LOVE the fact that if you hit 'f' again you automatically take everything. Now if only that worked when you were harvesting resources. That little tidbit is what bugs the crap out of me. When I'm in a relaxed state apparently I lose the ability to quickly grab the goods and go.

    As with any MMO the story is always evolving and changing. So to try to talk about the story right now, I think most everyone will say that it is going to take some additional twists and maybe full on changes. So what I will say is that every single character will have their starting hero moment. You will start in your race's starting area, where you will learn the ropes of playing the game, and then once you have started to really get the story started, from your race's perspective you will be thrown into the bigger world where you will have to battle all kinds of enemies. One of the mechanics in the game that is used is that you can potentially be proficient enough to use all weapons and all of their attacks along with them. To me this is both a plus and minus. It is a plus because you can definitely set up a couple of weapon arrangements for your character so that you can go from range to melee in a heartbeat. The downside is that you'll get all the weapon skills really quickly and then there's no further variety to diversify your character from the thousands of others that are using the same weapon as you.

    Now I do want to point out that there are additional skills that you will be able to unlock as you play through the game, and that those are class specific, so have no fear you will have some variety here simply because there are more skills than slots on your hotkey bar. Speaking of skills the way you unlock them is by doing skill challenges that are dotted all over the map. If you are able to complete the challenge you gain a point, and you're going to need to gain quite a few of them to unlock a solid set to play around with.

    So we've waited this long, lets get into quests. For the most part you are going to be tasked with go over there collect, kill, save, or destroy that thing and then come back to the quest giver. I do like the fact that there are spur of the moment quests that pop up from time to time that you can either join in on, or simply ignore and keep heading in the direction you are pointed at. There are also the special event quests, those are the ones that really have me locked into the game. I've helped win back Lion's Reach, and the best part is that even though I'm not maxed out, I can still participate. I love the fact that we all get bumped up to level 80 to get a chance to participate when we are in that area. This to me makes me want to play that part of the game more because the exclusiveness is shattered and everyone, no matter where they are in the game can help, and most likely gain items that will make your character that much stronger when you decide to get back into the main quest or perhaps take on a quest that you have been putting off.

    Now there is a micro-transaction piece to this game, and for the most part I've been able to ignore it completely. Sure I've been tempted to perhaps get a couple of things, but they are not slapping me upside the face with the need to get some of these items or whatnot. Now the really interesting thing and the reason why I've come so close is that from time to time they put a free item up on the market and I can get it, then I'll probably use it, and of course if it ends up helping me I'm more likely to see if I can't buy the next one, so they are, in my opinion, on the right path.

    Now let's get down to if you should get this game or not, I'm going to say yes, come join me and thousands of others explore the lands, take on quests, rescue the world. It is relatively easy to pick up, and there is not subscription fee, so if you need to take a break the game will still be there when you come back, while not burning a hole in your pocket. This game gets a 9.4 out of 10.

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    Wednesday
    Feb192014

    Dear Esther Review

    Dear Esther is a walk through a story game created by The Chinese Room. In this game you are going to be walking around and through an island that is apparently deserted and as you go a story will unfold in front of you.

    Graphically this game looks amazing, the atmosphere of the island draws you in and all you want to do is take more steps along the beach, up the path, through the caves, and even in to some of the abandoned structures.

    The music coupled with the music is probably the most haunting thing about the game. Well after the game was over I was left feeling the pull that the two together caused on me. The voice acting was also well crafted. There were secrets and bits of story that made you want to discover all there was about the island.

    The controls are VERY straightforward, use the mouse as your camera, and use WASD to walk.

    I don't want to give too much away, but I will tell you this there will be disappointment when you find yourself at the end of the game, and it will be sudden. Part of you will know immediately where this story will end, but you will be able to shrug it off until the final moment. You will learn stories of Esther, Paul, a Hermit, a man named Donnelly, and a herder named Jakobson. You will find that you yearn for more, but the sad reality is this is truly a walk through this island, a story is told, and then the end occurs. You do NOTHING other than walk to the designated spots to trigger the next bit of dialogue. So as good as the experience is, unless you are really really interested in taking a walk through something mysterious, you are going to find the 30 minutes it takes from start to finish is going to leave you in an interesting position.

    So would I recommend this to people? Well I'd say if you are interested in being caught up in imagery and a bit of story, then sure. There's nothing here to really consider this a game, per say, even though you do interact with it, I would have to say its more of an interactive art piece. So if I look at that I have to give this an 8.1 out of 10.

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    Saturday
    Feb152014

    In Love and Warcraft Review

    In Love and Warcraft is a play written by Madhuri Shekar, and is the 2014 Alliance/Kendeda National Graduate Playwriting Competition Winner. It is currently running in Atlanta, GA on the Hertz Stage of the Alliance Theatre. The story revolves around the character of Evie (played by Lily Balsen), a strong secure person when not having to deal with Real Life but the World of Warcraft, and her attempts of tackling the real world. She meets a guy named Raul (played by Evan Cleaver), who turns her world upside down, and she has to deal with real world pressures of life, love, and losing one's self to another person.

    Right off the bat the thing you need to know is that this is a play for the small stage, there's only 200 seats in Hertz, so the entire play is up close and personal, and its put on by six actors. Two of the actors are caught in a revolving door of characters as they try to allow the other four to make costume changes, or to allow for set changes. Now of course this move is obvious, but the acting of Bobby Labartino and Diany Rodriguez showed that even though their characters might not have a lasting effect on the overall story, almost every time they are on the stage is memorable. Now that isn't to say that the others actors don't leave an impression on the audience. The chemistry between Evie and Raul plays out very well, and the parts of Evie's overly sexual roommate Kitty (played by Alexandra Ficken), and Evie's in-game boyfriend Ryan (played by Patrick Halley) definitely spices things up. 

    So here's the deal, this was definitely an adult themed play, so do not bring the kiddies (seriously don't do it, it will look bad on you as a parent, or guardian). The play is about the Universe of Warcraft, a fictional game, which is just like World of Warcraft. I'm not really sure why they had to go exactly there, but something tells me that they did it so that they could make up scenarios of what was going in game without pissing off the Lore-masters of WoW (World of Warcraft). Though to be honest they put just enough reminders in the play to tell you that Warcraft was involved, but the majority of the play is focused on different aspects of relationships, and trying to conquer the fear of a female gamer trying to live in the real world. I have to say that it was refreshing to not have to deal with the stereotypical male who is the one that has to be pulled away by a woman.

    My favorite part of the entire play had to be in the second act when they finally gave you a brief look into the actual game world. It was was humorous and probably the most spot on thing about the game. Since I am a gamer it did bother me that apparently playing the game meant trying to destroy the arrow keys (I'm looking at you Ryan), and of course not a single actor even tried to use a mouse. I understand the need for dramatic and exaggerated motions to get the part across, but as a gamer it kind of showed ignorance on the subject matter. The other thing that I understand was for dramatic effect as well, was the magical way that unplugging your headset from your computer muted your mic. That rarely works, especially when you are pulling it from a laptop that most certainly has a built in mic, seeing as I believe the laptop being used looked like a Dell.

    There was one really really weird thing about seeing the play tonight, and that was that the patrons were almost completely comprised of 50+ individuals. The gamers were definitely FAR in the minority. We did ask about that descrepency and discovered that it really depends on the night, so there's that. I stuck around for the brief Q&A afterwards and discovered that I was the ONLY gamer in the crowd, and the only one who had really even heard about World of Warcraft. So I have to say that was a bit odd.

    So here's the deal, if you are in Atlanta, are looking for an adult themed, nerdy, romantic comedy, you are probably going to need to move fast to get tickets if it isn't too late. This is only in town until the 23rd of February. Was it the best play I've ever seen, no, was it the best at staying faithful to one of the main components of the story, no, but there is something about this play, and the fact that it is pulled off by so few people, and yet all the characters come alive, that you are going to want to see this for yourself. I don't really want to put a grade on this, but I know that there are those out there that will think it weird if I don't grade this, so if I'm forced to do so I'm going to have to give this play an 8.4 out of 10.

    Tuesday
    Feb112014

    Echo Prime Review

    So Robot Entertainment came out with a PC port for their iOS game Echo Prime. In this game you will be playing the part of an Enforcer who somehow survives an attack that should have done everyone in. You are saved by an Echo. Now this time around Echoes are other worldly beings that come from all over the galaxy/universe, and are here to help augment their powers with yours to allow you to survive and take on all that seems to be threatening not only you but the echoes as well.

    Graphically I have to say that I'm impressed with this port. I'm not sure if they had to do a major overhaul to get this game up and running on the PC, but I have to say that this game looks like it belongs on the PC. The best part of the graphics of the game, in my opinion is the fact that the weapons and armor that you will be equipping are actually shown on your character. There are too many games that try to do a generic set of armor for specific levels of items, and it is refreshing to see that level of detail go in to the game. The other thing is that I liked the different looks of the areas I had to battle through, there was a subterranean feel to some levels, different space ships, lab facilities, and even an ice planet feel. The other thing was the amount of enemies and the subtle, yet deadly changes that come with them.

    All the music in the game felt like it belonged in a space themed game, but there was enough variety to not make the music monotonous in the background. Now of course since this is a port of an iOS game, I'm not surprised that there were no voices added to the game, would it have been a nice extra bonus, sure, but it really wasn't needed as the focus was where it needed to be in this game, the combat.

    So the controls of the game had to be pretty simple. You are going to use the mouse to click to where you want to move. You are going to use the mouse to select an enemy to attack, if you hold the mouse button down you are going to keep attacking that enemy until it is dead. If you hold down the left shift you can stay in place and just attack. You are going to have the chance to have up to 6 different hotkey actions if you would like, though most of those aren't going to be an option until you are a good chunk into the game. Now of course one of the REALLY REALLY nice things about this game is that you have the ability to re-map the entire setup, so if you feel that you would play better with different buttons to dodge (that's WASD by the way), or perhaps you would like to have your hot keys closer you can do that too. Oh and of course you are going to need to master the blocking mechanic in the game, that's set as the right mouse button. If you can do it at the right time you can take no damage or you can reflect a shot.

    I am going to come out and say it right off the bat, I have played WAY too much of this game, I should have written the review of this game quite a while ago, but I was having so much fun trying to collect over 60 different echoes, each with different abilities, some with passive abilities, some with active abilities, and of course a couple that had one of each. There are a hefty number of side (optional) missions that you can go on, I have played through almost every single one of them, and you will find that there's even a ton of items to really spec out your character. 

    Speaking of items and echoes, there's an interesting dynamic at play with this game, if you want to really power up all your echoes as fast as possible, and perhaps find them faster, you are going to want weaker armor and weapons. The reason is that after so many kills you are able to attune that item and it will either increase the experience of an echo, or introduce you to a new one. Now every echo only has one level and once you have surpassed it they will just generate you money. At the end of missions is when you can do the regular leveling up if you wish to take that path. There's also an enhancement option that allows the echoes to level up faster and produce more currency. The best part is that NONE of it is microtransaction driven.

    So here's the deal, you need to get this game. If you like hack and slash games, you are going to need to add this to your collection stat. Are the fighting mechanics the tightest? No they are not, but you have to remember that this is an iOS port where you are handcuffed to just tapping on the screen. Can you over come that obstacle and find a game that will eat up hours of your time? Absolutely I've logged just over 20 hours and yearn for more. To end this review I have to say that Robot Entertainment continues to release quality products, yes I know its a port, but they didn't just slap it on to a different platform they made it feel like it belonged there, and for that I have to give this game a 9.4 out of 10.

    Tuesday
    Feb112014

    Serena Review

    I somehow magically had this game called Serena already purchased on Steam, and since it was an Indie game I decided to take it for a spin. You play the part of a man who has forgotten why he's in a rustic cabin, and whatever happened to his wife. In this point and click adventure game you will have to reassemble the pieces to discover what you do not know and what you forgot.

    Graphically I have to say that this is a very good looking game. I felt like I was in a dusty old cabin, devoid of any true light, but showing that it was lived in, at least at some point, and that the clutter and the items found in the cabin make it all feel real. The only images that I didn't really like was the fact that there were two slightly different hand icons and sometimes made it hard to distinguish between cannot do anything and pick up this item to interact with it.

    The sound was probably the hardest thing to pull off about this game, and I have to say that I was impressed. You could feel the emotion in the voices. To be a bit nitpicky I have to say that when the auditory memory flashes of the wife happened I couldn't really picture that voice coming out of the wife, but like I said, nitpicking.

    This is not really that long of a game, and to be honest to tell this story it really didn't have to be. There were some very frustrating aspects to this game, most of them revolving around having to touch objects throughout the cabin over and over again trying to pull clues out after you found the last clue spot, but then again we are talking about a man who cannot remember a thing of why he is in the cabin, and where his wife is, so I can understand that as puzzle pieces fall into place, going back over something that meant nothing at first could make a hell of a difference later.

    Now as far as I can tell, as of right now the game is free, I'm not sure if that will change, it was released at the end of January 2014, so take it as you would have. I do have to say that I was impressed by the fact that there seemed to be a lot of collaborators taking part in this, but at the same time I don't think it really shows, maybe with everyone adding their two cents and refining details it made it better, but it's hard to tell. Alright so lets give this game a grade shall we? Even though it was short, and there were some frustrating parts to it, once I started the game I literally did not stop until I got to the end, so for that this game gets an 8.9 out of 10.

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    Tuesday
    Feb042014

    Moon Boing Review

    Moon Boing is a game created by Space Hat Games for the iOS devices. In this game you are an astronaut who sees a strange robot looking head floating in space, and you have taken it upon yourself to find out what the hell it is doing there. You will have to jump from platform to platform, navigate around glass walls, collect space balls, and of course try to accomplish all of this in as few jumps as possible.

    Graphically I have to say that this game looks pretty solid, sure there's some jagged edges to items that are round, but overall there's nothing to really complain about. Of course one could make the argument that there should not be grass in outerspace, but lets not nitpick, shall we. I do like the fact that the particles used for when you fire off your jet pack flow to the direction that you just came. I also like the animation of the astronaut, it looks very well put together when you are going into a jump, and landing from said jump. I also like the added flip when you just miss your landing but are close enough to continue through the game.

    The music in the game is a bit off. The menu music feels like a space themed game, the in game music goes anywhere from elevator music to music that sounds better suited for a farming sim. It is also nice to see that there is a jetpack sound as well as a landing sound in the game.

    The controls in the game are pretty straight forward, for the jet pack you are going to be pushing a designated area of the screen, the longer you hold down on it the longer the jetpack will go, but on thing to know is that once you've hit the top of your jump the jetpack might take you a little further as you are coming back towards the ground, but its not going to save you if you miss your landing. The other part of this game, as it is in 3D is the camera mechanism. You are two ways to play around with this, you can have a designated area that you can swipe left to right to turn the camera, or you can opt for tilting the device instead. Personally I went with the swipe mode.

    There seems to be a lot of levels in this game, I'm not sure how many are actually available at this current moment in time, but at the very least you have 12 levels to play around with. One thing I do like about this game is that you can just try to rush through the level, and you can advance that way, or you can try to collect all the floating balls and then finish the level, or you can try to go as fast as you can while collecting all the balls. This game is both challenging and a little frustrating. Now it would be one thing if its was frustrating because something was broken in this game, but this is more of a try try again type of frustrating when you accidentally miscalculate a landing or a jump. If you ever played the old game Lunar Lander, a game in which you have to land the lander perfectly on target with limited fuel you might understand a bit on how messing up a jump and/or landing, can have you packing and sadly trying again.

    I wish there was a bit more to the game, but at the end of the day this game is fun to play around with, and though it might not be for everyone, it is challenging enough that people should pay attention to it and see if they can master this game. So with that I need to give it a score, and so I shall give it a 7.9 out of 10.

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    Saturday
    Jan252014

    Heroes of Loot Review

    Heroes of Loot, by Orangepixel, will take you back to a Gauntlet, 8-bit pixel era, where you will be playing the part of an Elf, a Warrior, a Wizard, or a Valkyrie. You will be tasked on trying to get as deep as you can into an ever changing maze of dungeons. The more look you pick up the better. You will also find that each hero has a strength and a weakness to their character. So you will have to decide how you want to play the game, but if you take the risks, and they pay off you will find the dungeons truly opening up before you.

    Graphically you're not going to be blown away, but that's not the point, its not the art style that they were going for, what they were going for is to bring out a sense of nostalgia in those who can remember the olden days, which I guess I'm going to have to admit I remember. Now of course you can also go with the retro route if you want to, but I have to say that however you view it your going to see that the graphics were not the true purpose of the game.

    Now the music fits right in with the game, you're going to be jamming to 8-bit remixes. The dungeon music fits perfectly with what I imagine final fantasy/gauntlet dungeon music would sound like.

    The controls are really straightforward. You're going to be dealing with two actions, the first is the analog stick to move around in this top down environment, the second is the U button which is your attack button.

    So you are going to be playing the part of one of five different characters. Now you might have noticed that I only listed four in the first paragraph, well that is because to this day I cannot get to level 30 to unlock the last character, so I can't really speak on that one. The problem is that as you progress through the game the difficulty of the entire game ramps up the more you play. The difficulty goes from 1 to 5, and I'm currently at a 4. I think the deepest I have ever successfully gone was level 18. The problem is that you don't level up in proportion to your descent, so once you get into the teens you are going to have to me one hell of a masterful player, otherwise you are going to be toast. The other thing is that since the difficulty of the game has permanently ramped up to 4 out of 5, I can't let anyone who has never played the game, play this game in fear that they will get their ass kicked so fast that the enjoyment I felt early on will not take with them.

    Now the other thing about this game is that there really isn't an info screen you can rely on that will tell you what anything does, it is a trial and error type of game, where you might be doing certain actions, but having no idea what it is actually doing for you. One example is the collection of gems, outside of quests that you are randomly given, I have no idea what collecting them does for you, it doesn't increase your coin count, and there are times where you go into the shop and that's what you can buy is a gem. There's a cloak, which I finally found out makes you invisible to enemies for a random amount of time, not really sure how long. There are these experience scrolls that will pop up your experience to help you level up. There's apparently something called a cup of life, not sure what that does, there's some kind of looking glass, not sure what that does either. There are also shield you can get that will give you a health bar full of shield life.

    Now don't get me wrong, the whole game isn't a mystery, but there's just a lot that I feel did not get explained at all. You are going to find that ever experience is a randomized dungeon. Some levels contain hidden rooms with all kinds of goodies. There's quest rooms that will pop up from time, they are marked with a question mark, and can potentially help you out. There's also shops that pop up on levels, and they can potentially help you as well. The problem with the quest and the shops is that everything is so randomized that sometimes the item is completely useless, so expensive that you can never afford it at that part of the game, or is something that maybe you need but you are not sure what it will do for you. The quest sometimes have you defeat enemies that will no longer spawn in the next level, or collecting something that doesn't appear for another 3 levels.

    So at the end of the day this is a good game if you start from scratch and have a miracle run through where you conquer all levels that stand in your way. If you have to play a couple of times and keep dying this game will become a matter of frustration instead of enjoyment. At the end of the day this game gets a 6.5 out of 10.

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