Category Archives: Review
I suppose there’s no harm in admitting I was a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fan as a kid. I watched the cartoons, collected the action figures, had the PJs and bedclothes, went to see the movies, collected the comics, and of course I had to have the games when they released. As with anyone who played it, the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for the NES was a matter of finding workarounds and ways to game the system considering its difficulty level. The sequel was a little more the right tone, having been taken from the arcade version of the game.
What we’ve been seeing with video games over the course of the last few years is a sort of event horizon where there ceases to be a dividing line between a movie and a game, as evidenced by such emergent titles as Heavy Rain and Indigo Prophecy (with a new title to be soon released from the same studio). Back when the processing capacity of a computer or console was so very limited, a short cut scene or static image upon completing a level would be the player’s reward. The opportunity for storytelling has increased manifold as computer technology has advanced. But the compartmentalization of the game development process has brought about a pitfall which unfortunately many titles fall into.
Good video game development involves incorporating puzzle-solving and skill elements into what can seem to the player to be an open-ended narrative, but what all too often ends up happening is that you’re directed by a series of arrows to complete an obstacle course and fight a couple of monsters in order to trigger the next cut scene and advance the plot a step. The game and story should be seamlessly interwoven into one another, but regrettably in the case of Remember Me, I’d probably be better off watching a compilation of the cut scenes on Youtube.
For what it’s worth, Remember Me has some excellent ideas, the core concept being that a future company in Paris has discovered a way to digitize human memories, allowing them for download, upload, transfer, manipulation, and even theft. This is brought about by the Sensen, a sort of holographic implant sprouting from the back of the neck which allows memory transfer through thin air, ineptly thinking to avoid all the plotholes associated with the biology and technology that might be needed to make such a thing a reality, taking what could be a concrete and visceral concept and making it too nebulous and airy-fairy for most people’s liking. Sculpting a perfect past by means of buying new memories becomes an addiction of the social elite and trickles down to the lower classes, who bankrupt themselves and create a new sub-human underclass of memory addicts who don’t even know who they are anymore.
It hits the mark well as a dystopian cyberpunk game because it emphasizes the militant order imposed by the corporate powers that be while at the same time showing how utterly little they care for the core concept of one’s humanity. We as both the character and the audience get a strong sense of helplessness and weakness in the face of this vast, overgrown, corrupt machine which eats people up and shits them out. But whoever planned it doesn’t have a good grasp of storytelling, as they fail to set the scene properly by showing us the whole of the city in its decrepit splendor. Consequently, while I know I’m running around through Paris, it’s not like I would’ve recognized it unless I’d been told that’s where I was. The location adds nothing to story. The same goes for much of the gameplay and scenery.
And who on earth decided to rip off Star Wars for the soundtrack? With the sharp clatter of drums, hailing of trumpets, and shriek of violin strings surging up at the slightest notice, the only thing that was missing was the familiar and somehow calming beeps of R2-D2.
And whoever wrote the character’s dialogue needs to go to a corner bar and listen to the drunks for a couple of weeks so he can figure out how real people talk. I’d prefer leetspeak over the ham-fisted soap opera-ish twaddle the game’s characters trot out. As the player, you are Nilin, a French-born British-accented revolutionary-turned guinea pig-turned revolutionary whose memory has been taken, and you must find out who you are while being guided by the only other active member of your cabal, with the ultimate intention of bringing down the company responsible for establishing this pseudo-new world order. But we’ve yet to identify the bad guy behind it all, or even identify an evil plot. The company is a world power with its own military. What it could want to obtain through evil means that it couldn’t obtain through perfectly legal ones boggles the mind and leaves me thinking that the game’s writer just couldn’t come up with a decent goal for the bad guys to get involved in an actionable plot. Consequently, you fight the company because of its unethical but perfectly legal business practices, and I feel a bit stupid conducting industrial espionage trying to take down the futuristic equivalent of Wal-Mart just because they’re not nice people.
I would call it a saving grace were it worth the 10+ hours of work, though it’s not, but the one innovative approach to gameplay is memory remix, where Nilin dives into a person’s mind, replays a given memory, and then alters it as if one were editing a film in order to make the person think something that didn’t happen did. Aside from this, you engage in many hours of parkour which would feel like Assassin’s Creed if you had an open-world environment to roam instead of being told where to go constantly, taking away the spontaneity that’s the entire point of parkour. And occasionally you also get into fistfights superficially reminiscent of the 10 on 1 fights from Sleeping Dogs ala Bruce Lee. The developers tout their combo lab combat system as revolutionary, in which you can mix and match attacks to create your own attack combinations which do damage, heal you, or create status effects. What you’re really doing is putting pegs into holes. There are five combos that you unlock over the course of the game and will be carved into your soul given the mindnumbing frequency they are used. But with a limited number of attacks you can plug in, one combo becomes your damage dealer, the other heals you, the third establishes status effects, and the remainder are never used because they are too long and you are always interrupted before you can complete them.
True dystopian cyberpunk titles are few and far between, meaning I really had my hopes up for Remember Me. But the combination of high-tech low-life isn’t there, nor is there the cast of supporting characters and corporate intrigue one needs to show the many shades of grey inherent in a world where money is all that matters. This is what happens when each department in a development company is given a job and a deadline with no one who has the vision and leadership capabilities to keep everyone working together and all headed in the right direction. The compartmentalization of responsibilities in game production has led to the deaths of many titles in the past; Remember Me will not be the last to fall to bureaucracy. What it sought to achieve should indeed be remembered, but what it actually managed is best left forgotten.
|Pros:||Excellent premise. High quality graphics. Sweeping soundtrack|
|Cons:||Poor storytelling and execution. Boring gameplay.|
|Game producer's website:||Dontnod Entertainment|
|Official website:||Remember Me|
|Game available at:|
This is a game I was meant to review ages ago, but because of issues I have been having with it I had a mismatch of emotions. Frozen Hearth is an RTS game, with a unique take on your General’s/Hero’s special abilities. As you fight you gain experience points that you can then spend on different abilities and attributes. It’s what we had in Warcraft 3, but more complex. The story of the campaign is interesting but it was mainly the campaign that held me back, together with graphical issues, and below I will explain it all.
There is a time when a Strategy fan, like me, will reach out to a more “FPS” tactics game. Since I am still in the mood for reviewing/previewing Free to Play games I decided to give Ghost Recon: Online a go. I never payed much attention to the series. Not because I do not like FPS/Tactics games but because I have a bit of a problem with “Tom Clancy”. There are countless “Tom Clancy” brand games, and not just FPSs. There was at least one Strategy game and a Flight Sim. It sort of reminded me of the Modern Warfare franchise, and I could really care less who and why I am killing this time.
So here we have it, Ghost Recon: Online. What is it about? How does it compare to other Free to Play Games? Let’s find out!
Ghost Recon: Online – What is it about?
Ghost Recon: Online is about… Special Forces fighting against other Special Forces, in what appears to be Russia, with a Middle Eastern undertone. Our guys are brighter than the dark enemy guys, but we both play as the good guys. The game uses the America’s Army “trick” of making the opposing team always look like the enemy.
There are three classes to choose from, the Assault, Specialist and Recon. You would think that’s highly limited and I would agree. Each class has two main weapons to choose from and a side arm. Each class also has two Devices and Team Support “Buffs”. So, into battle you will take only one of each… but it’s surprisingly deep, for so little content.
The Recon can use a cloak or Oracle, essentially limited range “X-Ray” glasses, that ping enemy positions. Now, if you played Planetside 2 a few months ago you would had heard a lot of criticism regarding the Infiltrator class. The Infiltrator had a cloak and Sniper Rifle, and he could hack terminals. However, he had VERY limited usefulness. People wanted for him to use SMGs, or have more to choose from, so that he could be more useful. Well, Ghost Recon: Online does something Planetside 2 should had. The Recon can have the a fore mentioned Cloak and Oracle, and in terms of weapons he can use an SMG or sniper rifle. Normally the SMG goes with the cloak and the Oracle with the Sniper rifle, but you can experiment. The Recon class can be used in brutal close combat, or as a distant sniper. He always has as little health, but that always comes into the equation. A sneaky Recon can wreck havoc on the enemy.
The Specialist at first reminded me of an Engineer. He can use either a Shotgun or LMG (Light Machine Gun) and has the Blackout or Aegis shield. Blackout, when used, causes a small “Ion” storm in the local area, and any enemy player in that area will lose his HUD and will be defenseless for a short while. Think of it as an introduction to an attack, where you make the enemy defenseless. The Aegis shield create a “bubble” around the Specialist, blocking pretty much any and all shots. This means that people behind the Bubble are also safe, and your own men can fire through it. However, grenades can pass through the Aegis bubble, and if an enemy walks “through” the bubble (gets very close) he can kill the Specialist.
The Assault has an Assault Rifle and shotgun (just like the specialist). His Devices are the HEAT and Blitz. HEAT creates a radioactive “wave” in the direction that it is pointing. This causes damage to enemy looking toward the HEAT, and makes it impossible for them to fire. Friendlies, as far as I can tell, are not effected by this. The Blitz is a deployable shield, that allows the Assault to charge forward and knock out the enemy with his shield. The shield acts as front protection (when active) but when inactive it protects your back (from shots and grenades).
You can begin to see how these three classes, with their different setups, can work together. A Recon uses an Oracle to locate enemy troops, the Assault then pins them down with the HEAT, while his squad advances, and just before they jump over the barricades the Specialist could cause a Blackout, giving your team a brief advantage at the start of combat. The Squad Benefit devices also differ in usefulness, so you might be a Specialist that resupplies ammo or speeds up the energy recharge on himself and his allies.
There are different maps, and while we could say that all of them are relatively small they offer enough space to flank and outsmart the enemy, in multiple ways. Usually the teams are not big enough to cover every direction fully, so a slightly tougher push, with the use of devices can benefit either team.
As far as I can tell, all game modes are about capturing points. There are a few variations of this. For example, there is a single point, and the team that holds it when the timer expires wins. Then there is a pretty standard “Conquer” mode, where there are five points, and the team that captures all, or holds the majority, wins. Then there is an Attack/Defense game mode, where teams take turns defending three points from the enemy team.
The overall victory is calculated based on the results from two or three rounds. So while one team might win by holding three out of five points in the first round, the other team might then capture four points in the second round and win overall.
What happens next? Well, there is an economy in the game. Each battle (won or lost) gives XP and RP. RP is used to purchase weapons, armor and “Mods”, for your classes. As you level up with your classes you will unlock more weapons, but they cost an arm and a leg. It is tempting to say that you do not need new weapons but sometimes it is necessary. For example, you start the game with a pump-action shotgun, while already at level 5 you can purchase an automatic one. You can also purchase the a fore mentioned Mods, that can be installed on your armor, for example, giving you certain bonuses. These Mods are not game breaking, at least not when I played the game, but they might give you that small edge over your enemies.
There is also a qualification system, that gives you achievements points. I have no idea what those are for, other than telling your enemies “Oh hey, you got killed by somebody who has more qualification points! Eat that!”. I complete them as a sort of “training regimen”. I practice with the different weapons, and when I finish mastering one qualification for a weapon I then jump to the next one.
What of Premium?
Premium currency in Ghost Recon: Online feels optional. It is mainly used for buying cooler hats/helmets, and it may be used to speed up the buying of higher level weapons or gear. It may also be used to obtain “Supply Crates” with random gear. As far as I can tell, in terms of “balance”, somebody who chooses not to use Premium can obtain the same gear as somebody who does. So you will not be that much far off in the arms race, especially if you want to focus on just one specific class (I do recommend trying all of them first though).
Yay or Nay?
I will put it this way, I was very surprised with Ghost Recon: Online. It is very well thought out, with in-game voice chat, Fireteams, and optional challenges for Solo and Fireteam play. Each Class feels useful in some way and teamwork pays off. The problem is that it might be hard to work together effectively, since people will not always communicate, so your best friend is self awareness.
I would say that one of the best additions is the “Firing Range”, where you can test out any weapon in the store, with different attachments, on “Mannequins” with basic health values. You can practice moving to and from cover, etc. even while the game is still looking for a Match or Server.
The main issue I had was other people… but that is something that always seems to happen between me and FPS games.
You can find more information on Ghost Recon: Online on their official site. There you can also view a number of videos explaining the different Devices the three classes unlock.
Alex “WriterX” Bielski
It’s safe to say that if Ubisoft was intent on making a cybernetic-in your face, raunchy, violent yet strangely humorous game, they have succeeded with Blood Dragon.
I acknowledge wholeheartedly that if blood, guts and gore combined with fantasy are not your thing it is perhaps best to steer away from this game and stick to more light hearted entertainment such as exciting slots games found at BookofRaspiel.de. But if you want unadulterated 80’s VHS style entertainment Blood Dragon is a winner.
Blood Dragon is pretty much only really related to Far Cry 3 in name and in gaming engine but aside from that everything has been changed. New enemies, new graphics and a new storyline all make Blood Dragon vastly different, and it can be hard to tell that you are actually playing on the same map and using the same engine as Far Cry 3.
The game is set in a visually stunning, futuristic 2007 and the premise seems to be based on the fact that in the 80s people thought that by the next millennium cars would fly, cyborgs would rule the world and aliens would attack at any minute. Your character in Blood Dragon is a cyborg-human who is trying to save the human race from an evil dictator who is somewhat, predictably trying to take over the world.
The retro future of the game rocks, but overall its let down somewhat by the missions. All the missions seem to be very much stock fodder from the era, with avoiding being eaten by a Blood Dragon, infiltrating a base or blowing up weapons of mass destruction a prevalent theme. Storyline wise it’s incomparable to Far Cry 3 but you do get to use some of the more exciting vehicles from the main game to complete your quests.
The humour in Blood Dragon is intentionally cheesy and whilst the game manages to pull off a serious side it seems Ubisoft was hell bent on portraying a total parody of 1980s sci-fi films. The voice acting is rather average but the soundtrack is pretty awesome and could come straight out of a stereotypical 80’s film.
Overall, in comparison to its big brother Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon may be a little lacking in game play, but its great theme makes it mind blowingly appealing and will get you hooked-fast.
Multiple ways of handling a given situation
|Cons:||Basically just Far Cry 3 with a different face,
Blood dragons are more trouble than they’re worth
|Game producer's website:||Ubisoft|
|Official website:||Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon|
|Game available at:|
Game Dev Tycoon is something I would call a “light simulation”. You are the head of your own Video Game Development Studio and what you do from there is entirely up to you… sort of. You start with four set Gaming Topics, and a very limited number of design options and you make games. At first from your Garage, eventually moving to a humongous Studio/Office. From Zero to Hero, that sort of thing. Along the way you will research new design techniques, making your games even more awesome. You will improve the skills of your workers (and yourself) to specialize in different design areas… Eventually, you might decide to make your own “Super Game”, with a million dollar budget, for your own Console, while your R&D Department will help boost Hype around your new title. It all sounds colorful, doesn’t it? It’s a somewhat bumpy road, but still a pleasant one.
What is humanity? A lot of people would say hope, that whatsoever evils occur and however far mankind strays from its morals, its principles, and the spirit of its own rules, there is always that ever-distant hope that drives us on. True, humanity thrives on hope, and where no hope is to be found, it can begin to founder. Unless you’re Russian.
I’m rapidly beginning to feel like Resident Evil has taken the place of the Mega Man franchise of my youth: There’s a new one out every month. Following quickly on the heels of the moderately innovative yet flawed Resident Evil 6, Resident Evil: Revelations is an effort by developers to fill in and piece together some of the more obvious gaping holes in the Resident Evil canon, particularly the ginormous nothingness between Resident Evil 4 & 5 where our cast of known characters went from lone, wandering, outcast, underdogs to a group of world-class badasses melded together by a sense of purpose and a world-spanning counter-bioterrorism organization bankrolled by the UN.
Army of Two: The Devil’s Cartel is the third installment in the TWO series, this time being farmed out to EA’s Montreal division and in cooperation with Visceral Games, best known for Dead Space and not lot else. As one would expect, it’s a third-person shooter making great use of cover physics and copious chest high walls, the story featuring the legality and efficacy of private military contractors, this time taking on drug cartel in Mexico for reasons never really well explained.
Imagine the distant future of the year 2007. The second Vietnam War has ended with a scorched earth policy. America has nuked Canada to end the war, and now the cleanup has begun. The post-war economy is boom-bust. Why use a VHS when a disc can hold twice as much data? Why send a letter when an e-mail can make its way halfway across the world in less than 30 minutes? Why recruit soldiers when you can just resurrect the ones who died in the field?