Archives for : April2013

Thomas Was Alone and Benjamin’s Flight DLC: PS3 and PS Vita Game Review

Publisher: Curve
Developer: Mike Bithell

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What they say: (Thomas Was Alone) Thomas Was Alone is the critically acclaimed indie platformer about friendship and jumping. Guide a group of sentient rectangles through a series of environments, combining their skills to reach the end of each level. Listen to awesome music by David Housden, negotiate obstacles meticulously placed by Mike Bithell and immerse yourself in the characters’ journey with a voiceover read wistfully and amusingly by Danny Wallace.
Discover the story of the world’s first sentient AIs, and how they worked together to, well… “escape” is a strong word. “Emerge” might be better. “Emerge” has an air of importance about it, while keeping a plethora of plot twists and origin stories under wraps. We didn’t even mention the bouncing.

(Benjamin’s Flight) In this Thomas Was Alone level pack, discover the tale of young Benjamin, who goes in search of the Fountain of Wisdom aided by his father’s incredible invention. Benjamin meets a new companion and a familiar face in this story, which takes place in the events leading up to Thomas’s emergence.

What I say: I am so loving that Sony is becoming a new home to a diverse line up of indie titles. And this title is about as indie as they come. The game is, at its heart, a platformer. You start off as Thomas, a square representing an AI program. As the game goes on you meet up with other AI that come in various block type shapes. You can switch control between them on the fly and this is necessary in order to traverse the levels. Different AI work together in different ways as they all have different abilities. The game play is sublime and perfectly tuned. This is one of the finest platformers I have ever played. If that alone was the draw of Thomas Was Alone I would have still been perfectly satisfied. Thankfully it’s not.

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Each level starts off with narration telling us about the characters and their motivations. This narration goes a long way in giving personality to, let’s be honest, nondescript blocks. Thomas and all the others do have unique personalities and you really start to feel for them and their motivations for partnering up with Thomas. The story builds and new characters are introduced all the way up to the ending, an ending that very much is up to your interpretation. The only real down side the game has is its length. Despite having around a hundred levels it’s pretty short. But really the game is so compelling that you will not care. It is enjoyable enough to justify purchasing and enjoying it.

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The DLC, Benjamin’s Flight, adds another 20 levels to the mix. Benjamin has a unique ability, he has a jetpack! This allows him a greater range of movement, which is good as these levels are much more challenging than the base game. Precision is a must as there are spikes everywhere and hitting them will result in instant death. You also have to ferry other characters around..also through spikes. This set of levels serves as a prequel to Thomas Was Alone and while the ending is a bit of a bummer, it is just as compelling as the main game. Length will be an issue again as the price seems a bit steep for just 20 levels but once again the compelling game play and narration more than make up for it. I cannot recommend this game enough!

Both games are playable on the PS3 and Vita and support cross play and cross buy.

Thomas Was Alone: 9/10
Benjamin’s Flight: 8/10

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Bioshock Infinite: PS3 Game Review

Publisher: 2K Games
Developer: Irrational Games
Purchase here!

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What they say: Indebted to the wrong people, and with his life on the line, hired gun Booker DeWitt has only one opportunity to wipe his slate clean. He must rescue Elizabeth, a mysterious girl imprisoned since childhood and locked up in the flying city of Columbia. Forced to trust one another, Booker and Elizabeth form a powerful bond during their daring escape. Together, they learn to harness an expanding arsenal of weapons and abilities, as they fight on zeppelins in the clouds, along high-speed Sky-Lines, and down in the streets of Columbia, all while surviving the threats of the air-city and uncovering its dark secret. WINNER OF OVER 80 AWARDS!

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What I say: Bioshock Infinite. Buy it. Done. Seriously it’s great, the shooter to end all shooters, and I’ll tell you why.

In Bioshock Infinite, you play as Booker DeWitt, a private investigator with gambling problems and owes some favors to some people he shouldn’t. Now he’s offered a deal, go to Columbia, grab a certain girl, and the debt is gone. Needless to say, it’s not gonna be smooth sailing.

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The core game mechanics of the first two Bioshocks still apply, you kill people with guns and ‘Vigors’ (Columbia’s version of Plasmids) they alter your body to give you superhuman powers, like set people on fire and awesome stuff like that. And since Plasmids name has changed, Eve’s name has too, it’s now Salt.

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The story can get confusing, yes, but I went through Persona 4 Golden with no problem understanding. So Bioshock Infinite sprawling storyline isn’t a big issue to me, but to others it can be occasionally hard to follow, it’s personal opinion.

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The weapons have also had a make-over, there’s standard variants like Shotguns and Sniper Rifes, and there’s enchanced versions, with different names and stats. But it still comes down to what guns you prefer, like for me, I prefer a Sniper and Shotgun then an machine gun. The limit of guns you can hold is now also limited, two at the max. Instead of the usual ‘have every gun in the game’ scenario.

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The art in Bioshock Infinite is….unique to say the least, it’s honestly, something that people dreamed of back in the early 1900’s, minus all the violence and Christianity, unless that tickles your fancy. And the character designs? From Booker to Elizabeth, it’s unique and in it’s own class.

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Speaking of Elizibeth, she isn’t some useless A.I. to take care of, she takes cover herself and is a huge advantage to you. She can, when you’re at the right point in the game, create ‘tears’ and spawn items to aid you, including giving you Salts, Health, and Ammo when the need arises.

Overall, Bioshock Infinite has been great fun, and might be my 2013 Game of the Year.

Rating: 10/10

UNCLE SAM WANTS YOU … TO PRE-ORDER: Saints Row IV™ Commander in Chief Edition Announced

UNCLE SAM WANTS YOU … TO PRE-ORDER:
Saints Row IV™ Commander in Chief Edition Announced
Delivering Justice, Americana-Style! Pre-order Items Include Incredibly Insane Weaponry, a Bad-ass Attack Bird and an Uncle Sam Uniform (Yeah, you heard that right!)

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Larkspur, Calif., – April 22, 2013 – All hail POTUS as Deep Silver announces today that the Commander in Chief Edition for the upcoming Saints Row IV™ is available as a free upgrade to pre-orders at major freedom-retailers across North America. In this ball-busting, open-world and-other-PR-words installment in the Saints Row franchise, developer Volition continues the story of the Third Street Saints by elevating their status to the highest level – the leaders of the free world.

But the leaders of the free world are under attack from an alien invasion in the land of the free, and it’s up to you and your gang to save the world, Saints-style. To help you combat the alien terrorists you will encounter, the Commander in Chief Edition is a free upgrade for all pre-orders at participating retailers and comes fully loaded with a Screaming Eagle that fires rockets out of its talons and can invoke the “Sonic Scream” attack, leaving your enemies dazed, confused and likely scarred for life.

Additionally, if you’re going to save the world you should look good while doing it, which is why the Commander in Chief gives you a limited-edition Uncle Sam uniform, made in the US of good ‘ol A (apple pie not included.) And since you need the best [read: most ridiculously overpowered weapons ever conceived] fighting tools available, Volition and Deep Silver are giving you a stimulus package, “’Merica”, full of incredibly astonishing firepower: flamethrowers, ultra-powered dub step guns and rocket launchers are yours for the taking. Crown thy good with brotherhood, indeed.
The Commander in Chief Edition is priced at $59.99 (console) and $49.99 (PC).

The Commander in Chief Edition will be available globally.

Saints Row IV launches August 20th, 2013 across North and Latin America and August 23rd worldwide. For more information please visit:
Web: http://www.saintsrow.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/saintsrow
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/saintsrow
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/saintsrow

About Saints Row IV
In Saints Row IV, the head honcho of the Saints has been elected to the Presidency of the United States. But the Saints are just getting started. Now the larger-than-life insanity of the Saints series gets a new twist with a catastrophic alien invasion, and the aliens have transported the Saints to a bizarro-Steelport simulation. Wield gargantuan superpowers and fight to free humanity from alien granddaddy Zinyak’s mental grasp. Escape the simulation that’s trapped the Saints crew, or die trying.

Saints Row IV lets players delve into an arsenal of alien weaponry and technology that will turn each Saint into an ultimate entity of destruction. Utilize out-of-this-world superpowers to fight all the way to the top. With intensified action and enhanced customization, players can use their newfound superpowers and leap over buildings, outrun the fastest sports cars, or send enemies flying with telekinesis in the greatest, most insane installment of Saints Row yet.

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About Deep Silver
Deep Silver develops and publishes interactive games for all platforms, seeking to deliver top-quality products that provide immersive game experiences driven by the desires of the gaming community. The company has published more than 200 games worldwide since 2003, including the critically-acclaimed, best-selling zombie action game, Dead Island™. Upcoming titles include the side-scrolling arcade brawler, Sacred™ Citadel, the isometric action RPG, Sacred 3, and the next game in the Dead Island franchise, Dead Island Riptide. Deep Silver, Inc. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Koch Media, GmbH. For more information, please visit www.deepsilver.com or follow us on twitter at @deepsilver.

Dead Island Riptide: PS3 Horror Game Review

Publisher: Deep Silver
Developer: Techland

Purchase here!

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What they say: Dead Island Riptide is an open world Action Role-Playing game (RPG) in which players are tasked with surviving a viral based zombie outbreak isolated in a topical setting. The game is a follow-up to 2011′s original Dead Island game, and contains additional Survival-Horror gameplay mechanics and a first-person player perspective. Additional features include: New and returning characters, new vehicle types, levels and weather conditions, online multiplayer support including co-op, group defense tactics, and escalating melee and projectile weapon proficiencies. Special Edition Includes Alternate Character Skin, Pack of Weapon MODs, Digital Strategy Map.

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What I say: When I first played Dead Island the bugs and glitches kinda wore me down and it took me a while to come back to it and after numerous patches I actually found the game pretty enjoyable. That being said, I was really looking forward to Dead Island Riptide.

The first thing you really should know about Riptide is that is isn’t really considered a sequel as much as a spin-off. The game does have the feel of an expansion pack, a long game length expansion pack. You are able to import your character from the first Dead Island which does ramp up the difficulty quite a bit as enemies scale to your level. All four characters (Sam B., Xian Mi, Logan and Purna) from the first game return as well as a new guy named John Morgan (Named after the lead actor from Cannibal Holocaust. Nice!). The four originals all play the same right down to their unchanged skill trees. John is a hand to hand combat expert which changes up things quite a bit. It, like before, should be pretty easy to find a character to complement your playing style.

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Combat is mostly melee based as ammo for the various firearms can be quite hard to come by. There a ton of weapons and a lot of cool new mods to amp up the coolness and destructive nature of your weaponry. The difficulty in the first game was pretty high and I sincerely believe that it is even higher this time. The infected are always around and it seems like there are more around every corner. All the enemy types from the first game return as well as some new ones like the Screamer, which can disorient you, and the various scientist infected that cause new headaches. The level of danger and downright fear is actually higher this time around. The zombies are more plentiful, more varied, and have a bad habit of coming up behind you. Another new feature is the ability to fortify your encampments. You can put up fences and upgrade them to be electrified. These missions really pump up the adreline as waves after wave of the undead descent upon you and your decisions on what to fence up and what NPCs to help and upgrade can really make a difference of whether you make it though the encounter. These are easily the most thrilling part of the game, and highly enjoyable.

Vehicles are still present in the game and drive just as they did in the original game. New this time however is the use of boats. These can cut down travel time quite a bit but they don’t protect you from zombies especially another new type, the drowners. They will grab your boat as it goes by and hang on, eventually boarding you and going for the kill.

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Online co-op is pretty damn well done as well. As my regular readers know, I love in the wilds of Kentucky. This means I have to settle for satellite internet. If a game does not have immaculate online code it’s pretty much unplayable for me. Gladly, this is not a problem. I played several hours with fellow staffer Scot Woods and never experienced any kind of drops or lag. I was very impressed with this aspect of the game. The game is great fun with friends and I especially enjoyed the base defense missions this way.

Now at this point it seems like Dead Island Riptide is a pretty great game, right? Not so fast kiddies, there are a couple of problems. First, the story is awful. I mean really awful. Even though it picks up right where Dead Island left off, two of the most important side characters are removed and never seen again (Until Dead Island 2 I guess). And the story structure is exactly the same as the first game. Very little is done to advance the world building and it makes this game feel like filler. Fun filler, but filler none the less.

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Second, this late in this generation of consoles we should not have such choppy graphics as we have in Dead Island Riptide. All the cutscenes chop and skip and gameplay is frequently choppy as well when you are surrounded by zombies, which is like 90% of the time. The sheer joy of making an electric samurai sword outweighs the graphical issues for me, but I know not everyone will feel this way. Hopefully there will be a patch soon to address this one real flaw.

If you loved the first Dead Island then welcome home, this game is really more of the same but the new additions to gameplay make it still feel fresh enough to give it a go. However, if you didn’t like Dead Island, this game will certainly not change your mind.

Rating: 7/10

Dead Island: A Look Back and Review (PS3)

Publisher: Deep Silver
Developer: Techland
Purchase here!

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What they say: The island of Banoi is a lush, tropical paradise in the South Pacific where its flagship Royal Palms Resort serves as the ultimate getaway for vacationers with money to burn. However, all good things must soon come to an end – and the picturesque resort falls into madness, carnage and chaos after a mysterious and contagious zombie outbreak claims its once peaceful atmosphere. Cut off from the rest of the world, only four individuals who strangely find themselves immune to zombification have the power to protect the remaining survivors from the horrors of the island, to discover what’s really going on and find a way to escape before their own fatal ends.

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What I say: With the release of Dead Island Riptide right around the corner, I thought this would be a good time to dust off my copy of the first Dead Island for PS3. I never finished the game and I wanted to rectify that before the release of the follow up. My first impression of Dead Island was its mish-mash factor combining aspects of Left 4 Dead, Dead Rising, Borderlands and the Fallout games. Not to mention that initially the game came off rougher than a cob. Graphics were rough, there were loading hiccups and the difficulty really needed some balancing. The game had a really bad habit of spawning you right back where you got killed last time to get killed again.

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As time went on several patches were released. These patches addressed the game balance issues and tightened up the rough edges. So I installed the patches and re entered the world of Dead Island.

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The game opens with you playing one of four characters that are seemingly immune to the zombie virus that has swept Banoi Island. Each character has their own style of fighting and their skill trees accentuate that. The game is playable single player ot co-op with up to four players. Players can drop in or out as needed. The game quickly drops you in the crisis and you must think fast to survive until you can start getting weapons and the fixins needed to make custom weapons. Most of the combat is melee based as firearms and ammo are kinda rare on the island.

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The first thing you will notice is the never ending sense of fear this game envelopes you in. There are always zombies milling around and about the time you get used to things a new zombie type is trotted out in order to mess you up and keep you on the run. The game moves at a good pace as you move from human settlement to settlement. You can just blow through the main missions or take the many side missions the survivors offer. The side missions are a good way to raise xp and get new weapons and blueprints to make new weapons.

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As I said before the graphics are kinda rough around the edges but they get the job done. The island scenery looks great and the zombies look menacing enough. The sound design is also very well done as you can always hear zombies growling in the distance and it really adds to the element of never knowing what’s around the next corner. The story is actually pretty good and there is always motivation to keep going forward. The game truly is a fun mix of several different styles and that combination keeps things hopping. I’m glad I gave Dead Island another look!

Rating: 7/10

Come on back Monday for our review of Dead Island Riptide.