March 11, 2011

PC Games - Dune

The Dune series has been one with many ups and downs throughout the years. There's no denying that the books were successful, but what about the Dune Games ?
When gamers talk about Dune they probably are talking about Dune II, a game by Westwood Studios who revolutionized (and for many, created) RTS as we know it today.
Harvesting resources, real time control of your units, building structures and crushing your opponents in campaigns with missions of progressive difficulty.

However, this surge of popularity for Dune RTS games overshadowed the original Dune, a game I would define as a mix between turn-based strategy and point 'n click adventure.

So today, in order to make justice and pay tribute to this classic, I give you the review of Dune.

Developed by: Cryo Interactive

Many of you are already familiar with the basic premise. In essence, it's exactly like in the first book, and also like in the 1984 Movie of the same name.
Baron Harkonnen... one fat badass mofo
You are Paul Atreides, the son of duke Leto Atreides, ruler of House Atreides. You are tasked by your father to collect spice for the Emperor Shaddam IV, ruler of the known universe, from the planet Arrakis ( It being the only source of spice in the known universe). Not everything is as easy as it seems though.. the House Harkonnen, sworn enemies of the Atreides, led by the evil Baron Harkonnen, already have control of a good portion of the planet.
Spice Melange is a substance known to enhance conciousness.. but it's main usage is to create Spice Gas, which allows spaceships to travel any distance almost instantaneously. This makes spice the most valuable substance in the universe.

Throughout your journey, you'll be assisted by several people (most of them also appeared in the movie) like your mentor Gurney Halleck, and the Atreides Mentat Thufir Hawat.

Dune plays out, at first, just like a point 'n click adventure game would. You can move using the arrow keys or your mouse, and you talk to people by clicking on them.
At first, you'll be tasked to do minor things, like contacting the Fremen (natives of Arrakis), and arranging the extraction of spice. Along the way though, things will get much more complicated and interesting.
To do so, you have an Ornicopter at your disposal, which you can use to travel the sands of Arrakis to find Fremen 'Sietchs' (kinda like cave houses). Once found, you can try to persuade the tribe leaders to join your cause and assist you on different matters, like taking care of Spice harvesting, or training their men to fight against the Harkonnen.

Supervizing the operation on Dune is your everday job
You may think that everything is easy, but once you're in a comfort zone, the game will make you face new and harder challenges. One of them being that the Emperor Shaddam IV will demand periodic shipments of Spice. At first, he'll suffice with a few hundred kilograms of it. But soon enough he'll be demanding tons of it, and unless your Fremen forces are well equipped and organized, you'll fail to meet his demands.

After a few hours of playing you'll realize that the game is more about strategic macromanagement rather than point n' clicking.
You'll gain psychic abilities which will allow you to contact Fremen forces from a distance.. and boy, you'll need it. When you have 12+ Fremen Forces tasked with different things, and all of them need something from you (like providing them with Harversters, supplying them with weapons, giving them Ornis to prevent harvesters being devoured by worms, etc)

Not bad at all for a 1992 game
Graphicwise, it looks great. Sure, it's a 1992 game.. so in our eyes it looks awfully dated. Yet, the animations are really good and many things (like the pseudo-realtime travelling of the desert) were cutting-edge at the time. Think about other games released at the time: Mortal Kombat 1, Wolfenstein 3D? They look like crap compared to this.

The music is fitting. The tune used for Orni travelling is quite catchy, but after hearing it for 10 hours it grows old. I feel Dune is quite lacking in the Sound Effects department though, with only the occasional effect being thrown out here and there.

The Replay factor is sadly missing here. Not much to do in the game after you've beaten it.. but then again, what game had ANY replay factor in 1992?

Still...Dune is a good game. Yet, the astounding success gained by Dune II released in the same year overshadowed it completely.
I urge you, if you like adventure or strategy games at all, and you're into oldies.. give this one a try. I promise It won't dissapoint.

Rating: 8.5/10

March 10, 2011

Finally back

Well, well.. Hello there guys! So glad to be back.

Vacations were great. Had a great time with my girlfriend :)

I also passed a killer exam earlier today, so I'm quite happy :P

No reviews today unfortunately, but tomorrow be sure to check back. I'm planning on making a video game review of a game I think has been totally ignored and overshadowed by a totally different sequel.

I'm talking about... DUNE (the original, not Dune 2)

ALSO: I'm curious about your opinion. Would you like me to review new game releases? or focus on old games that may/have been for the most part ignored? .. or perhaps have a shot at some Indie games? (there are a few very worthy of reviewing.. like Machinarium)

Let me know what you think in the comment section, and according to the number of comments, I'll make a couple of reviews based on your decision.

See you soon!

March 04, 2011

Short absence

Hey guys... just wanted you to know that I'm going on vacations for a few days.. I'll be back by wednesday.. so no updates for a short while :(

I'll see you all soon ;)

March 02, 2011

Games PC : Fallout New Vegas

As promised, I bring you the PC Game Review of Fallout 3: New Vegas

Developer: Obsidian Entertainment

For the most part, I've always disliked Open RPG's. Their openness comes in hand with freedom, and this freedom translates to a lack of 'purpose' which ultimately leads to the question: Why am I playing this game? . This is the most difficult challenge for any ORPG DEVs.. creating a game which has both the freedom of choice but also elaborate an illusion of purpose and meaning to all your (meaningless) actions.

..Fallout: New Vegas achieves this goal wonderfully.

The Game .. takes place in the Mojave Desert, years after its destruction (together with presumably all of America) due to a nuclear war.
All that remains now is a shadow of the past (More specifically, the 1950's). Ruined buildings, poisoned food, and mutated animals are a common sight.

Howdy, Pardner!
You are the courier. You were tasked by your superiors to deliver a package. Simple enough, right? Well.. no. A gang lead by a mysterious guy in a suit intercept you, steal your package.. and shoot you in the head.
Fortunately for you, a cowboy robot digs you out of your shallow grave and sends you to the doctor. What's next, an alien abduction? :P

Anyway.. you're fully patched up now, and your purpose is simple. Payback.

Of course that, along the way, many questions will arise. Like why did they want with that package, what was the package's content, and many others. This questions will lead you into a myriad of sidequests which will ensure hours of fun.

If you ever played Fallout 3, then you'll very quickly catch up with the controls and the environment in general, given that it's pretty much identical in F:NV.
Some have critized Obsidian for not innovating at all. Me? I commend them for keeping a system that works.

Beating guys with a golf club? ..Check
Really, the only changes made those that were truly necessary. Melee weapons were lacking in Fallout 3. In New Vegas? Lots of them. Fallout 3 too easy? .. New Vegas has a Hardcore mode where you'll have to drink, eat, and sleep regularly to survive. This is simply awesome for those that are acquainted with the franchise and want a serious challenge.

The replayability factor is more present that ever.. with 3 different approaches that you can take, each with dozens of unique quests. Join the NCR and defend the desert from the menace of the Legion. Join the Legion and drive the NCR away. Or perhaps you'd be more interested in aligning with the mysterious Mr. House...

The irony.. it burns..
Graphically it looks almost identical to Fallout 3. A game released quite a few years ago. While I have no issues with the graphics themselves, I feel Obsidian could have improved on the subject a little. Perhaps something akin to what Valve did with the episodic series of Half Life 2.

Soundwise, no complaints here. The voice acting is frankly excellent, and combined with all the elements discussed above, you'll be drowned into the game in no time.
Many new weapons were added to the game, and each has its own unique sound effects.

It's really hard for me to think of something bad about this game. You could nitpick and point at minor issues.. but really, how should we judge a game? . My opinion is this: If the game is addicting, and the experience is good, it's worth playing. And F: NV is one of those games.

Rating: 10/10

March 01, 2011

Xbox 360 games - Dragon Age 2 Gameplay Demo

Today I'd like to show you guys gameplay footage of the Dragon Age 2 Demo for the Xbox 360.

We can clearly see a shift from turn-based combat to action-based.. more akin to games like God of War. It's a neutral change for me, given that I like God of War and turn-based combat games :P

Enjoy! And stay tuned.. Tomorrow, we'll have the review of Fallout 3: New Vegas.

February 27, 2011

Silent Hill 2 - Director's Cut

Computer game ain't what they were in the past, right? :)

Today I bring forth yet another jewel of the Survival Horror genre.

Silent Hill 2: Director's Cut   - Developer: Konami

It's been almost 10 years of its release. Yet few games of the genre have managed to capture the eearieness found here.

....Mary? Is that you?
You are James Sunderland, a twenty-something fella who drives to Silent Hill with a single purpose in mind: Finding his dead wife Mary. She's been in that state for 10 years, which is why he finds receiving a letter from her rather strange.

This sets the tone for a series of rather disturbing events which unfold in a marvelous way.. hooking you up for hours.
Without giving out too much of the plot, which would honestly be a crime, you can expect to find all those things that make Silent Hill great. Sounds and an ambience that will make you shriek every time you hear a noise; Enemies both beautiful and disgusting to look at, and a fog so thick you'll never see them coming.

Your flashlight will become your new best friend
Something that in my opinion is needed to be emphazised, is just how much you can explore given the hardware limitations. While you will most definitely find 'decoy' doors and the infamous 'broken lock' ones, there's just a whole lot to see and explore. You can sidetrack quite a bit and add a good hour or two of gameplay just by paying attention to all the detail given to the city and going around town looking for ammo lying on the ground.

Cutscenes are to be highlighted too, due to the considerable amount of them available, and the surprisingly good voice acting in general.

The 4 different endings available, and the 'sidestory' event, which tells a story from the perspective of a different character, allows for great replay value and extended gameplay.

One of the only things I found lacking is the camera. It somehow finds a way to lag in certain key moments, or to have you see in the exact opposite direction where you're going; something that will lead to quite a bit of frustration.

Nonetheless, despite these minor issues stated, SH2:DC is a very solid game. One that ought to be experienced by all those who enjoy Survival Horror.

...Scratch that, if you like games, you'll love this.

Rating 9/10

February 24, 2011

Gearbox wants to.. retribute?

Joystiq blogged recently about this. I find this a nice gesture.. although I can't think of a way they could possibly display it in game... unless they wanted their credits to last for 3 hours.

Stay tuned for more reviews. By the way, feel free to suggest a game. Leave a comment and I'll see if I can play it, or if I already did, I'll make a review of it!

February 23, 2011

King's Bounty: Armored Princess

Welcome back to Paul's Game Reviews.

Todays' review is about King's Bounty: Armored Princess

Developer:  Katauri Interactive

Few ''clones'' are worthy of recognition. Most of the time it's because they don't add anything new. They just take a formula that works, make it look and feel slightly different, and then hope that some of the original game's success will spill out to this ''new'' game.

KB:AP is the kind of clone that manages to surpass the original. (It being the Heroes of Might and Magic series)

In fact, It's in a time like this (when the HoMM franchise is struggling due to lack of innovation) where creative clones shine. And so the apprentice beats the master.

The game sets us in the fantasy realm of Endoria, where you (the princess) have to travel to the paralel world of Teana in order to save yours from a demon invasion. Fortunately for her, she has a special device which allows her to take her sweet time to gain experience, and then magically go back to the exact moment and place where the demon invasion occurs.
Amelie, the Protagonist
In this new world, you are tasked to gather several Magical Stones, and to find your mentor Sir Gilbert.
Along the way, of course, you'll be riddled with sidequests so that dozens of hours will be spent before even remotely approaching the end.
Gameplay is where KB:AP shines. It's in essence the same Strategy RPG formula that worked wonders for the HoMM of old, yet several key improvements brought a much neccesary lifting to the franchise.
To name but a few.. you'll have a Pet Dragon accompanying you on your journey, who will gain experience just like the Princess does, and learn many important abilities like Find Treasure and Dragon Dive.
The fact that there are several different dragons available with different starting skills makes up for vary interesting, diverse strategies; and also allows for some replayability, although in my opinion there should be more ''unique'' skills or ''ultimate'' abilities for each Dragon to encourage replays even more.
Even Dwarves can take on Dragons
Also, every time you gain ''runes'' (a.k.a talent points like WoW), you can spend them in three different talent trees, each with a different focus. This is a major replay factor due to the fact that several ''builds'' are available. You could choose to become a more ''Offensive melee'' princess, with armies focused on close combat, like Orcs; or perhaps become some sort of pseudo-necromancer and have an invincible army of the undead. Or any combination imaginable.
Items add to this variability as well, given the sheer amount of them available (in the hundreds), and many who provide unique powers (like upgrading magic abilities or raising some of your ''dead'' undead forces at the end of battle).

Graphicwise, I have to say that It looks a bit dated for its time. Even so, the artistic direction taken is very good, so it all evens out in the end.

The Music is quite memorable, with several cool soundtracks that will float about in your brain for hours after playing.

It would be unfair to ignore this title as a mere clone. There is much to be found in KB:AP that you won't find anywhere else, and while much in it has been done already, It's done so wonderfully and well-paced that you just don't care.

Be sure to check your watch every once in a while.. you may find yourself playing for 8 hours straight.

Rating: 9/10

February 22, 2011

Mechwarrior 5

I'm so hyped about this game.. and look at those graphics! Hopefully It'll be released soon

February 21, 2011


Hello guys.. welcome back to Paul's Game Reviews.

Today we have an Indie title that broke all records.. and deservingly so. I'm talking about: Minecraft.

Developed by Markus Persson, the game puts you in the shoes of a nameless man whose sole purpose is to... create. In a way, its Lego meets Garry's Mod, in the land of awesome.
Currently in its Beta stage, the primary (and for now, only) game mode is Survival. In it, you'll find yourself in a huge randomly generated world, where you'll have to gather wood, stone, iron, and other materials, in order to protect yourself from the evil monsters that lurk in the dark.
One of the endless beautiful creations.
Of course that, after a few days of sleeping in a 3x3 cube of dirt, you'll want to expand a little bit. And boy does Minecraft provide. Given the many tools, including picks, axes, doors, switches, and many MANY more provided, there's just limitless amounts of fun to be had.
I, personally, set myself the goal of creating a pixelated Marauder (from the Mechwarrior series). Will I succeed? Time will tell.
There's not much to say graphic-wise. It's 8-bit graphics at its finest. Not a whole lot to see, but I'd dare say it's part of the charm.
Music is, in my opinion, a tad bit lacking. The few soundtracks found in the game, I found very relaxing and entertaining to listen.. but more often that not.. it's just the sounds of your footsteps and the occasional hack of your tool.
I do have to say though.. that after a while the game can get a bit tedious.. especially if you're not very patient. But all you need is an idea to spark your imagination and BAM.. you're back in the game spending hours upon hours on your project.

In short.. Minecraft is a game for creative people. If you're one of those, or you have (or had) even the mildest interest in creation, then give this game a try.
If you're more of an action type who loves fancy graphics, It would probably be wise to stay away.

One can only imagine how cool the game will be once it reaches Gold status.

Rating: 8.5/10

February 04, 2011

Amnesia - The Dark Descent

Hello everyone, and welcome back to Paul's Game Reviews.

Today we have with us a game that has been gaining increased popularity and momentum as of late, and deservingly so. A game that tries to redefine the way Survival Horror is played... or, should I say, shows other similar games how wrong they were in their approach.

This game is Amnesia: The Dark Descent. (Developed by Frictional Games)

From the moment you gain control of your character, you will notice what this is all about. You have nothing on you: no weapons, not even your bare fists. Everything is dark, and the voices in your head don't help make things better. Occasionally you will stumble upon tinder, which will allow you to light candles spread around the different areas of the castle, and oil for your trusty lamp; the latter being absolutely vital.
You'll never know when its safe


I will not spoil anything story-wise, as It would really be a shame for you not to experience it first hand. Ideally on a dark, silent night; with the lights off, and your volume cranked up to the max.
Suffice to say this game is not lacking on a good storyline at all.

In terms of sounds and music, It feels just right. It's not a cluster of pointless sounds. You can hear your footsteps, the creaking of a wooder door being opened, the haunting screams of seemingly real victims echoing in the halls... you know, the usual stuff.
Music is nowhere to be found except on the opening menu, which in my opinion is rather lacking. Although it helps not to have some random track playing to build up the creepy ambience, I think several key moments of the game could have been enhanced with a short creepy tune. At least to have something memorable that automatically associates the music with the game (a.k.a Jaws)

If you're THIS close... well, I'd close my eyes if I were you
Last but not least, we have to mention the graphics. For a surprisingly weightless game (barely 1gb), It looks stunning. No matter where you examine; whether its a portrait, the cover of a book, or even the occasional blood-coated wall, you will find nothing but detail. This is the kind of game where you should spend a good minute or two in every single room looking at pretty much everything. Too bad you probably won't have enough lamp oil to do so :P

In the end, regardless of minor issues you may encounter throughout your playthrough, there's no denying that Amnesia: The Dark Descent is a true survival horror marvel, that ought to be played by all fans of the genre; while newcomers to it will find in this game a very good place to start.

Rating: 9/10

February 03, 2011

Grand Opening

Ah.. the day has come. It is time now to embark on a great journey of gaming and reviewing.

My name is Paul, as you may have guessed.. and from now on I will be posting daily reviews of some of Gaming's Marvels. Some of these you may have heard of, some you may not. But rest assured! I will provide you with quality reviews.

I will also be taking requests in case anyone wants a specific review. For the time being, I'll focus on titles that were either unsuccessful commercial-wise, or are too old to be remembered.

See you guys tomorrow :P