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.