Author - John Dugan

Mad Catz C.T.R.L. R Mobile Gamepad – A Review

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The C.T.R.L. R Mobile Game Pad by Mad Catz is a fitting way to complete my trilogy of mobile gaming reviews. Unlike my other two mobile gaming reviews, the C.T.R.L. R took a little more convincing for me to see the positives that it brings to mobile gaming. The C.T.R.L. R is not a bad product by any stretch, but just does not feel necessary, or even helpful at times when it comes to mobile gaming.

Design

The design of the C.T.R.L. R is much like your standard Xbox 360 controller. The game pad has a pair of analog sticks, four main face buttons, and a direction pad on the face. There are two shoulder pads and two triggers in the same places as they are on the standard Xbox 360 controller, with a Start, Select, and power buttons in the center of the face. The placement of all of these features are precisely in the same positions and spots as they are on the Xbox 360 controller, so those of you that are used to Microsoft’s controller layout will feel right at home.

The differences that the C.T.R.L. R has over the Xbox 360 controller are significant. First, this is a strictly wireless controller. The small, micro USB port on the front is only used to update the game pad’s firmware, not to connect the game pad to a device. The C.T.R.L. R connects via Blue Tooth to your mobile or pc devices. The biggest difference in design between the C.T.R.L. R and the Xbox 360 controller is the mobile device holder. This holder screws into the controller between the shoulder bumpers, and holds your mobile device in place. The calipers slide open and then closed by using a spring for tension, to hold your device in place securely. The mobile device mount unscrews with ease, to return the C.T.R.L. R back to the standard controller configuration.

The C.T.R.L. R also features a few more buttons that are not found on your standard controller. A row of media remote buttons sit above the power button, which includes Play/Pause, Fast Forward, Rewind, Volume Up, and Volume Down. There is also a three-way switch on the bottom edge of the controller that switches the C.T.R.L. R to work with different devices, such as your mobile device or your PC.

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Performance

The C.T.R.L. R Gamepad can be used in three different ways; as a mobile game pad, as a mouse controller, or as a PC game pad. Most of my testing was done as a mobile game pad with my Samsung Galaxy S4 device, but I did test it on my Windows Laptop as a mouse controller and a game pad.

As a mobile game pad, the C.T.R.L. R worked wonderfully well. The phone fit into the mount well with no fear of slippage or droppage at all. The C.T.R.L. R paired right up with my phone in a matter of seconds and was very responsive in game. I don’t have too many games that the C.T.R.L. R would work with on my phone, but the ones that it would work with played just like I was on my Xbox.

As a PC game pad controller, the C.T.R.L. R didn’t fare as well in my testing. First, since it will only connect via blue tooth and cannot be wired, I could not use the C.T.R.L. R with my desktop. I did not have the capability to connect blue tooth devices, so the C.T.R.L. R would have been useless in that department, except that I have a new laptop that is blue tooth capable. Again, connecting the C.T.R.L. R was a piece of cake, and the mouse mode of the C.T.R.L. R worked great. However, the game pad mode did not work as well as it could, and I experienced connection issues with many games that I tried to use the C.T.R.L. R with. Using the free Mad Catz app, unfortunately, did not fix the issue. I feel that too many developers out there are expecting PC users to just use a 360 controller these days, and have programmed their games to work just fine with that particular one.

Final Thoughts

The C.T.R.L. R Gamepad is a solid controller that works very well with your mobile device. The functionality and performance of the C.T.R.L. R met and exceeded any expectations I had for a mobile game pad. My issue with the C.T.R.L. R isn’t with its design or performance, it’s with the necessity of the game pad. For me, having a controller for my phone just does not make sense. The types of games that I play on my phone are designed to be played in small increments, and without having to lug a full size controller around. Mobile gaming has to be just that, mobile. The C.T.R.L. R game pad is just too large and unwieldy to be mobile. For the C.T.R.L. R to really become necessary in my life, it would have to double as a PC controller, and it could not do that. If the C.T.R.L. R could hook up to my desktop and play my games without issue, then I would love this product. But since it cannot connect to my desktop, nor even work well enough with my laptop games, the C.T.R.L. R just becomes a well-working novelty piece that I cannot see myself using in the future. If you need a mobile gaming device controller, then I can recommend the C.T.R.L. R, but at the price of roughly $40 the game pad is a little expensive for what it can be used for effectively. Otherwise, I would steer clear of the device, especially if you were looking for a universal game pad to use with multiple devices.

Official Store Page

Mad Catz C.T.R.L. R Review Score
Overall Score (out of 5)www.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com

H1Z1 – A Preview (PC)

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The video game industry has a tendency to get into trends when it comes to video game themes or choosing a default bad guy. The industry has seen massive waves of games that featured aliens, vampires, mutants, and Nazis. Well, we are currently seeing this trend again, but this time it is with zombies. Zombies have become the default bad guy of recent years, with many games being released that features the walking dead. Games like Left 4 Dead, Dead Island, DayZ, 7 Days to Die, and Call of Duty have shown the industry that zombie games sell, and now everyone wants a bite of the action. Today, I look at yet another zombie game by Daybreak Games (formerly Sony Online Entertainment) that is currently on Early Access on Steam called H1Z1.

H1Z1 is set in a post-zombie-apocalyptic world where you play as a survivor, trying to make it through a changed world. The story of H1Z1 is mostly created by the players. There isn’t any dialogue, quests, or city hubs. You are placed with just the clothes on your back, into the middle of a zombie rich environment and set out to survive. It would be very hard to play H1Z1 without making comparisons to DayZ, since they both have very similar styles. You will spend the first part of any game running from everything that might cause you harm, while searching for weapons, ammo, and other supplies so you can survive your first night.

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There are no safe zones in H1Z1, your life is constantly being threatened. It’s not only the zombies that are out to get you either, it’s the other players that are on the server. H1Z1 is an open world PvP game. Everyone you meet could possibly kill you at any moment, or help you if you approach them nicely. But let’s be real here, this is the internet. Just assume EVERY player is out to kill you and you might actually live a day or two in H1Z1. The only people that band together are the ones that set out to play together. I have yet to meet another player that didn’t try to kill me at first sight.

H1Z1 is heavy on items. Weapons, clothing, equipment, crafting materials, and vehicles can be found throughout the open world. There will also be air drops that will appear during game play, but these end up being huge kill zones for PvP action, where “to the winner goes the spoils” is the only rule. The crafting system is pretty deep and you can make a ton of items that will help you increase your ability to stay alive. Anything from tools, weapons, animal traps, even water collectors can be crafted to help make your stay in the zombie apocalypse a comfortable one. H1Z1 also features base building, so if you do happen to find some people that don’t immediately rip your face clean off, you can work together towards building a base that you can barricade yourself inside of. Don’t get your hopes up though, the face ripping community of H1Z1 is much stronger and more numerous than the base building community.

Currently, there is one other game mode that can be played in H1Z1, and that is Battle Royale. Battle Royale is very similar to the game mode that was introduced in Arma 3, where a large group of players are placed into the environment via parachute and commence to kill each other until only one remains. Prizes are given out to the top ten competitors, and this game mode is extremely popular with the streaming community. There is also now a Hardcore Battle Royale mode that includes environment dangers, such as bears and zombies. This game mode removes all pretense of working together that the normal version of H1Z1 tries to have. Throughout the game, gas will be dropped that makes the playable area smaller and smaller, so players must stay within the game zone in order to continue fighting. Staying in the gas for too long means you will die and your game will be cut short. This is a one death type of game, so be prepared to have many games cut short if you can’t get the right drops early on.

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H1Z1 is still in Early Access, so there are still bugs that the developers are dealing with. Frame rate issues, hackers, and glitches can be plentiful at times, but the core game is solid. The real questions comes down to whether H1Z1 is better than DayZ in the end, and that’s going to be a tough one to call at this point. I see positives and negatives to both titles. DayZ has a better aesthetic and visuals to it right now, but I like H1Z1’s crafting system. Zombies, for both games, are an ancillary threat compared to the player community. The player community is out for your head in both games, so that’s a tie. H1Z1 does have the Battle Royale game mode, but if you have Arma 3 then you have already played the hell out of that mode.

H1Z1 will be free to play once released, but is currently $19.99 for the Early Access privilege. H1Z1 will be released on the PC and the PlayStation 4 once it is all done and looks extremely promising. While I am personally over the whole zombie genre in video games, H1Z1 and DayZ have both been my go to games for my zombie fix. It will be great to see how both these products turn out at their full release.

Transformers: Devastation – A Review (Xbox One)

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Platinum Games has reached back into my childhood, and brought forth a game that I have wanted to be made for over 30 years with Transformers: Devastation. Transformers: Devastation is a cell-shaded, action packed trek through what made the Transformers extremely popular in the mid-80’s. But what makes Transformers: Devastation better than just a nostalgia piece, is that Platinum Games put in a very solid, action game with rpg elements at the game’s core. The game is incredibly fun, action packed, and truly gives the player the feeling of controlling a Transformer to it’s fullest potential.

Story

The story of Transformers: Devastation feels like it could have been a plot from the original television show. The Decepticons, led by Megatron, are bent on transforming the Earth into a version of Cybertron by harnessing the power of Plasma Energy. The Autobots, led by Optimus Prime, leap into action to prevent Megatron’s transformation of Earth. During the game, you will control one of five Autobots: Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Wheeljack, Grimlock, and Sideswipe. In preventing Megatron’s plan, you will battle against faceless hordes of Decepticons and will battle against some of the biggest names from the television show in impressive boss battles, including Devastator.

What also makes Transformers: Devastation story feel like an episode of the old cartoon is the characters and their voice actors. Many of old voice actors have been brought back to relive their old characters, and the characters themselves act like they should. Everything just feels right about this game in terms of story progress and atmosphere. This game just nails the Transformer world like no other.

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Gameplay

Transformers: Devastation’s gameplay is almost perfect, with just a few hiccups worth mentioning. The game plays mostly as an old school beat-em-up in 3 dimensional environment. Combos are going to be your best friend, with ranged weapons helping take out some of the airborne threats you will run into. The combos are fun and very satisfying to pull off, including transforming mid-combo. The characters will also play differently depending on you are playing as. Optimus Prime is a slower, stronger style of character while Bumblebee will hit quicker and more often, but with less power.

Moving around the environments is very satisfying also. You can run around in robot mode if you so choose, but transforming into your alternative mode will give you benefits in certain sections of the map. Adding Grimlock the Dinobot was a great addition so you can change up your alt mode from car to dinosaur, though Bumblebee is probably my favorite to use due to his speed.

Transformers: Devastation comes with five difficulty levels, and the difficulty definitely ramps up as you progress through the game. The first boss, Devastator, is absolutely no warm up fight when it comes to difficulty. Quick reactions, reading the boss movements, and timing your attacks with your dodges will get you through most fights.

Not everything in Transformers: Devastation is perfect, however. The maps feel a little generic at times and can be hard to navigate. The loot system feels forced into the game and really made no sense to me. I would have preferred no loot system, and just had increases to my power as the game went on. Having a loot system just did nothing for my enjoyment of the game. It made the game much more fiddly for me. Instead of just wailing on Decepticons, I was finding myself becoming more concerned over min/maxing my loot and stats. Transformers: Devastation also falls on the short side, about six hours of game play. It is a lower price for an Xbox One game then standard releases, being priced at $49.99, but six hours is still on the short side for me.

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Aesthetics

This game looks amazing. Platinum Games went with cell-shading when it came to art direction, and this is absolutely the perfect use of that design. The game looks like it was ripped from the 80’s. The colors are vibrant, the graphics look clean and just like the cartoon. Sure, the settings have a tendency to look a little generic and uninteresting at times, but watching my Autobots race around and battle Decepticons in full cell-shaded graphics made me not care.

Sound design is perfect as well. The original soundtrack has enough of the old 80’s guitar metal riffs to bring you back to the original cartoon, without really being cheesy. The big draw here, though, is the voice cast. Peter Cullen, Dan Gilvezan, Michael Bell, Gregg Berger, and Frank Welker all revisit their original characters from the cartoon. Having the main characters voiced by the original actors is amazing and just adds mountains of joy on an already great game. The rest of the cast does a great job in sounding like the original characters.

Final Thoughts

Transformers: Devastation does not only serve up a great dose of nostalgia for those of us that remember the original Transformers television show, but it is also a fantastic game at its core. Beautiful cell-shaded graphics and the use of the original voice actors brings the world of Transformers to life like no other game has. Ever. A solid combat system helps keep the attention of the player, even after the novelty of the art design has worn off. Combos are satisfying to pull off, and even more satisfying when you transform in the middle of a combo. Transformers: Devastation isn’t without its issues. The game is on the short side, about six hours in length, and has a misplaced loot system that will feel more like a hassle then a feature. Other then that, Transformers: Devastation is six hours of pure Transformers fun that I would recommend to anyone that likes a good action game, but it is a must buy for anyone that remembers the Transformers cartoon fondly. Transformers: Devastation is available now for the Xbox One for $49.99.

Transformers: Devastation Review Score
Overall Score (out of 5)www.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com

Blood Bowl 2 – A Review (PC)

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My experience with Blood Bowl began in 1988, when my gaming group in high school really discovered everything made by Games Workshop. We would spend weekends playing 40k, Warhammer Fantasy Battle, and then started to set up our very own Blood Bowl Leagues. Even as I am typing this review, I can see my Second Edition set sitting on my board game shelf, remembering the time I went 0-10 with a Snotling team. The first Blood Bowl video game by Cyanide Studios felt good, but it was also missing some pieces. Blood Bowl 2 fills in those missing pieces to make the best video game simulation of the board game that I grew up with.

Story

The single player story campaign puts the player into the position of coach of the famous Reikland Reavers. Gone are the days of the dominant dynasty of Griff Oberwald and Zug, the Reavers are sitting at the bottom of the entire league, just having fired everyone that had to do with the team. Your job, as new Head Coach, is to hire a whole new team from Blood Bowl hopefuls, mold them into a terrifying team, and win the Blood Bowl Cup. You begin the campaign by selecting your team from different positions, customizing your players, then off to some friendly games to earn sponsors and more gold.

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Jim and Bob, two sports commentators who just happen to be an ogre and a vampire, will offer color commentary and analysis in between games. They also act as a plot device, helping the story along by telling the player what is happening around the league. While I felt that some of these segments went on for a little longer than they should have, Jim and Bob are a very entertaining duo of sports commentators that really add to the flavor of Blood Bowl 2.

The story itself isn’t anything special in terms of uniqueness or complexity, but serves as a great way to offer a structure to the single player campaign. My only gripe is the bonus objectives that were mandatory in some of the matches. Some of these objectives were extremely difficult to pull off due to the randomness of the game (more on that later). Other then some of these objectives, the campaign moved along very smoothly and was absolutely fun to play.

Game Play

Blood Bowl 2 offers a few ways to play the game, campaign mode, single player vs AI and some multiplayer modes. While the single player mode is great to play, it isn’t the best option for the long run. Creating your league with up to 128 teams is where you will get the most mileage for your dollar in Blood Bowl 2. These leagues are highly customizable and can be set up rather quickly.

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Blood Bowl 2 offers a wide variety of ways to build your own team also, including different races, customizable team jerseys, and you can even customize your own stadium to fit your team. The races available are among the classic Warhammer Fantasy races, such as Humans, Orks, Skaven and Dark Elves. With Blood Bowl 2, the Brittonians have been added to the mix. You can also create your roster from the different positions available for your race, such as Blitzer, Linemen, or Catcher. Each position has strengths and weaknesses that will come out during game play. And not all races have each position available, and that fits in with the original Blood Bowl feel. Dwarves just don’t make great throwers due to their height and Elves just are not as rough and tumble due to their delicate constitutions.

Blood Bowl 2 is a turn based sports simulation game, when it all comes down to it. The coin toss will determine who starts the half off with the ball, then you position all of your players during your turn to move the ball down field to score. During your turn, you will set up as many blocks as you can, with the success of each block coming down to a throw of 2 dice. If you happen to become knocked over as the attacker, your turn will end right then and there, so a little luck and planning are needed to get through a turn. There are no downs like regular American Football, but if the player that has the ball is tackled, he will drop it. The ball then can be picked up by anyone and moved down the field. Each half is timed at sixteen turns, and the team with the most touchdowns at the end of the game wins.

During a campaign, each player will gain experience from each game. This will lead to some of your players rising to the ranks of a Star Player and earning extra abilities, but will also be demanding more money to stay on your team. Other not so fortunate players can become permanently injured, or even killed during a match. Replacing these players in between games becomes standard practice for some teams, mine included.

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Aesthetics

Blood Bowl 2 looks and sounds amazing! I love the overall design and aesthetics of the races and stadiums. The designers really made the game looks like it comes right out of the colorful world of Warhammer Fantasy. Each races has their own specific style and look to them, as does each stadium. Especially during your own leagues, with the customizable jerseys and stadiums. The voice acting for Blood Bowl 2 is just as top notch as the visuals. Jim and Bob are voiced very well, and the commentary during the games is much easier to listen to then Madden or the NHL games from EA.

Final Thoughts

I liked Blood Bowl, but I like Blood Bowl 2 even more! Blood Bowl 2 feels far more polished and much more of a finished product than Blood Bowl was. The single player campaign is great, but it won’t be where you spend most of your time. It really is the custom league that shines here in Blood Bowl 2, and that is how it should be. Just like the original board game, Blood Bowl 2 truly shines when a group of people get together to schedule weekly games using their own customized teams, jerseys, and stadiums. Blood Bowl 2 is available now on Steam.

Blood Bowl 2 Review Score
Overall Score (out of 5)www.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com

Roccat Aluma In Ear Headset – A Review

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With the rise of mobile gaming, companies are creating top of the line peripherals to make mobile gaming the experience that many desktop gamers have enjoyed for years. Roccat has just released their audio option for mobile and music, named the Roccat Aluma. Built and designed to handle whatever life has to through at you while you are away from your desktop, the Roccat Aluma offers top-notch in-ear audio quality, while also offering a durable and light-weight aluminum housing.

Packaging and Aesthetics

Let’s start off with what you get for your $55 US (or 49.99 Euros Roccat’s online shop only ships the Aluma to Germany currently). The Aluma comes packaged with the in-ear headset, 6 different pairs of earphone adapters for your ears, adapters for your PC, Mac, mobile devices, and a nice little case to store everything in while you are out and about. The entire headset is designed in a black and light blue aesthetic, which reminds me of a headset designed in the world of Tron. I really like the overall look and feel of the Aluma, with one exception. The cord that connects the headset to your device looks and feels like a rubber band. This is to make the cord much more compact and to fit in smaller places, but I do not like the look nor the feel of the cord personally. This is such a small gripe that I almost did not mention it, but being used to braided cords from my desktop headsets or mice, made this cord stand out a lot more then I expected for me.

Performance

The Roccat Aluma sounds good, really good. I tested the Aluma with my mobile gaming, some laptop gaming, and with my music while I was at work. In all aspects, the sound through the Aluma was impressive, and it immediately replaced all of my in-ear headphones as my go-to set. Music sounded fantastic through the Aluma, and the headset brought a nice depth to my mobile gaming that my old in-ear head set could not bring. The quality of the sound of the Aluma along with the portability that Roccat designed it for, makes the Aluma perfect for mobile gaming and music.

There are just a few downsides to the Aluma as well. The mic that Roccat uses for the Aluma is an omni-directional, in-cable mic that also has a mute button. This is great for some communication, but I find that a uni-directional mic always works better and cannot be beat for gaming communication. Also, there isn’t a volume control on the cord itself, so all volume has to be control via your device.

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TECH SPECS

DRIVER UNITS
Frequency response: 20~20.000Hz
Max. SPL at 1kHz: 98dB
Impedance: 16Ω
Max. input power: 5 mW
Drive diameter: Ø8mm
Cable length: 1.2m

MICROPHONE
Max. SPL at 1kHz: -40dB
Impedance: 1.6kΩ
Directivity: omni-directional

Final Thoughts

The Roccat Aluma is a fantastic product that will give you quality mobile gaming and music audio while you are away from your desktop. The aluminum housing is both light weight and durable, so the Aluma will not start to hurt your ears even after hours of use. The mic used for the Aluma is similar to the mics you see in other in-ear headsets, which works fine for communication but cannot beat the quality of a good desktop headset with a dedicated microphone. Roccat also makes sure you have enough adapters to handle anything and everything you might run into out in the real world, with a pc, mac, airplane, and mobile device adapters. You also get multiple sets of rubber adapters to find that perfect fit for the shape of your ear. All of these can fit into a nice, durable carrying case that can travel with you where ever you go. The Roccat Aluma runs about $55 US (49.99 Euros), so it isn’t on the cheaper side for an in-ear headset, but considering the quality of sound and the durability of the aluminum housing, I would venture that it is worth the price.

ROCCAT Aluma Review Score
Overall Score (out of 5)www.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.comwww.dyerware.com

Warhammer 40,000: Regicide – A Review (PC)

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My next two game reviews are both Games Workshop properties, which makes me a very happy game reviewer. Today, I will be taking a closer look at Warhammer 40,000: Regicide, Games Workshop’s version of Battle Chess. That being said, to simply write that Regicide is Warhammer 40k Chess would be to over simplify the game. Yes, the base idea is Chess, but the good people at Hammerfall Publishing have made this game so much more then just that.

Story

The campaign for Warhammer 40,000: Regicide takes place on the Imperial world of Hethgar Prime. The introductory cut scene shows the plea for help from Hethgar Prime, that finally reaches the Blood Angel Chapter of Space Marines. The Blood Angels arrive on Hethgar Prime too late to save its inhabitants from the savage alien threat of the Orks, but the Blood Angels are never too late to deliver the Emperor’s vengeance.

The campaign story telling is very typical of Warhammer games. The theme is generally one of vengeance and intolerance towards the enemy, in this case it is the Goff clan of the Orks. The story is told before each stage of the campaign, and is told through text boxes that are fully voice acted. In these narrative sections, the objective of the stage will be set, as well as any secondary objectives that can be completed. Each objective will be unique to each stage of the campaign, and fits with the story being told. The map will also be set up uniquely between each stage, and the pieces available will be determined by what stage you are on.

The story of Regicide is typical Warhammer 40K, which is just fine with me. The Blood Angels have arrived on Hethgar Prime to eliminate every Ork on the planet, both to avenge the fallen Imperialists and to spread the word of the Emperor. This is the heart of Warhammer 40K. Fans of the IP will pick up on the story immediately, and know what roles each person plays throughout the campaign. Players new to the world of Warhammer 40K will have a decent introduction to the game universe as a whole, without having to learn the thousands of years of narrative that has been built into this property.

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Game Play

Warhammer 40,000: Regicide has two game modes that can be played outside of the campaign, Regicide and Classic. The campaign uses the Regicide game mode, but with set formations for the board depending on the campaign stage and objectives.

Regicide mode is broken up into two phases, movement phase and attack phase. Pieces will move in the movement phase exactly as they would in the classic Chess game; bishops move diagonally, rooks in straight lines, queens moves in any direction, etc. If you move into a space with an opponent’s piece, then you automatically kill that piece and capture that spot. This does not count against your points to use in the attack phase, this is considered part of your movement. It’s the attack phase that really makes Regicide feel unique as a Chess game, and adds another level of tactics that Chess just does not have.

The attack phase gives you a set amount of points to use to either attack, bolster your defense, or use the special abilities of your pieces. When attacking other pieces, you can either assault them using your close combat weapon, or shoot them using your ranged weapon. You select your choice of attack, and the game will give you a percentage chance of the attack being successful. You can also Go To Ground to add to your defense, or use a special ability. Special abilities will depend on what piece you are attacking with. The Librarian, which is the queen for the Space Marines, will have the typical ranged and close combat attacks as well as a life drain attack that heals the Librarian. The Weirdboy, the queen for the Orks, has a different set of special abilities even though it fulfills essentially the same role as the Librarian.

This attack phase completely changes the tactics used during a Chess game. You have to weigh your movement against the ranged capabilities of the enemy. Sure, I can move my bishop right across the board, but during the Ork attack phase, they will just start blasting him before I have a chance to move him again. In a normal Chess game, you would be absolutely safe placing a piece directly to the side of a pawn, but in Regicide that pawn will be able to assault you and cause some hefty damage.

Classic mode is just that, a game of classic Chess using the Warhammer 40,000 theme. This mode plays exactly like the old Battle Chess game that I loved so dearly in the olden days of PC gaming. There is no attack phase, so all combat is done as you take pieces. There is no ranged attacks, nor percentage chances of an attack missing. If you can take the piece in Chess, then the piece will be killed here. This is Warhammer Chess, so either you will like this mode or not. I have played Chess my whole life, and love having this mode to play. Regicide mode is where the action is, this mode is a great addition to an already solid game.

Regicide will also utilize a single unified account. This means you can play Regicide on your PC, switch over to your phone or tablet, and play against friends regardless of what system they are playing on. You can also change the skins of either side to be another Ork Clan or Space Marine Chapter. Some are available right away, while others will need to be purchased with in game currency. The latest patch just added the Snakebite Clan and the Raven Guard Chapter to Regicide. Other clans and chapters available include the Evils Sunz, Ultramarines, Space Wolves, and White Scars.

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Aesthetics

Warhammer 40,000: Regicide bleeds Warhammer 40K. The maps of the stages, the design of the pieces, and the cut scenes all feel like they belong to the world of Warhammer 40k. This is a world of total war, where nothing but the complete annihilation of the enemy matters. The death scenes are suitably gory, the environments are suitable desolate, and the characters all look like veterans of a never-ending war. This game looks good, and is designed very well. Regicide has to be right when it comes to design, since it does have over twenty years of Warhammer 40K to live up to.

The sound and voice acting in Warhammer 40,000: Regicide is also great. The actors nail their parts in accordance to what Orks and Space Marines are supposed to sound like. The sounds of bolter fire and chainswords starting up also fit exactly what I was expecting. Like any other long standing franchise, the sounds and accents have been well documented over many games and movies so the developer just had to match those sounds to be right on the money. Regicide feels like a Warhammer game, and absolutely sounds like one too.

Final Thoughts

At its very core, Warhammer 40,000: Regicide is a Warhammer 40K Chess game – but,  if you skip this game based solely on that, you are making a mistake. Yes, Classic mode is Chess, pure and simple. However, Warhammer 40,000: Regicide mode is much more a turn-based strategy game then it is a classic Chess game. You must plan your movements in accordance to where the enemy is due to the enemy’s ability to open fire on their turn. The addition of the attack phase adds an entire extra layer of tactical planning that Chess simply does not have. Regicide is a great game that will keep you entertained for hours, either through single player or multiplayer. I highly recommend this game to anyone looking for a Chess-like experience that can be played across multiple platforms. Warhammer 40K: Regicide is available now through Steam for $14.99.

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Mega Man Legacy Collection – A Review (Xbox One)

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Remakes and collections seem to be hitting the Xbox One hard lately. With Dishonored, Rare Replay, Gears of Wars, and Kings’ Quest all hitting the Xbox One in the last month or so, it seems like this trend won’t be going away any time soon. At first, I was against this trend, but seeing how many of these types of titles I have purchased, I am rethinking my position on these types of games. With each release, I found myself enjoying these collections and remakes more and more. Then, Capcom released the Mega Man Legacy Collection, and now I am completely on board.

Truly A Legacy

The Mega Man Legacy Collection is aptly named, containing Mega Man 1 through 6 from the Nintendo Entertainment System era. These games were released roughly between the years of 1987 and 1993, depending on what country we are talking about. While the story may change depending on what game you are playing, there are many characteristics that are kept between games that made Mega Man one of the most consistent game franchises during the NES era. You play as the main hero Mega Man, an android named Rock with a gun attached to his arm called the “Mega Buster”, trying to defeat the evil Dr. Wily and his robotic henchmen.

The Mega Man Legacy Collection is rather bare bones when you really look at it, but it serves up everything you could want in a classic Mega Man collection. Not only are there six classic games here, but you receive a challenge mode that pits you against difficult challenges to complete under the set time limit. The graphics have not been updated at all, but the visuals have been changed to work on three different aspect ratios, and it looks great on all three. There are also two different filters that can be used to replicate the look of old televisions and monitors, if you feel like going completely old school.

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I am old enough to remember playing the original series back when they were first released. Mega Man came out my freshman year, and was one of the hardest games that I had played to that point in my life, but never felt cheap or frustrating. That title quickly changed hands the following year with the release of Ninja Gaiden, but Mega Man still felt like an accomplishment once I finished it. This series does a great job in recreating that feel of the classic game library, while adding just a few more things to keep you coming back after you have finished the main six games.

Game Play

Mega Man is played in side scrolling, 2d platforming levels, the player had a choice as to which henchmen he or she wanted to tackle first. Each time the player would defeat a henchmen, then the player would gain that henchmen’s powers and abilities, giving the player more power and strength to tackle the next henchmen. After defeating all of the henchmen, Mega Man is transported to the fortress of Dr. Wily, where he faces off against clones of the henchmen, new bosses, and Dr. Wily himself.

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Different henchmen are weak against certain types of weapons, so while you have the choice as to which henchmen you will face first, there is a particular path that makes the game easier to conquer. Levels are created with care to be just the right amount of difficulty, to allow persistence and timing to be rewarded without feeling cheap and unfair. The old password system has been replaced with a single point save system.

The collection is built around a two button controller set up, like the old NES controller, but the designers gave us a third button to use that emulates the turbo feature that some of the NES controllers had. This allows you to shoot three bullets with the Mega Buster with one press of the button. This may give you a slight advantage in some combat situations, but you will still need some old school timing and precision to get through the levels.

The Mega Man Legacy Collection plays perfectly. It feels just as responsive as it should, and brings me back to the days of playing the NES in my den. There is nothing really added to the collection, but nothing is missing either. It is the perfect application of the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality.

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Final Thoughts

Whether you are an old timer like me, or are interested in what the origins of the Mega Man franchise is like, the Mega Man Legacy Collection is a must have. Each and every game plays perfectly, and looks good doing it. Sure, the graphics are still the old 8 bit style, but that is part of the charm of these types of collections, playing the original games with their original look. I love beautiful graphics just as much as the next reviewer, but there is a reason that these games, and retro style games like Shovel Knight, are popular and that is because graphics does not necessarily make a game good. Great story lines and great game play can overcome mediocre or archaic graphics most of the time. If you call yourself a gamer, you owe it to yourself to own the Mega Man Legacy Collection. The Mega Man Legacy Collection is available now for the Xbox One for $14.99.

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Kyn – A Review (PC)

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The duo over at Tengin Entertainment has released one of the most beautiful indie games I have ever seen in Kyn. Kyn is an strategic, action role playing game set in a fantasy Norse world. While the aesthetics are very impressive, especially for a game that was designed mainly by two people, Kyn does suffer from a mediocre story line and frustrating combat controls. These elements don’t ruin the game by any means, but Kyn ends up being fairly mediocre while you are playing it, then quickly forgotten once you are completed.

Story

In Kyn, you follow Bram and Alrik, two Norse warriors who have just completed a month long trail to become Magni Warriors. As the two warriors set out to return home to Vinborg, they discover that the landscape has changed. Once peaceful creatures and peoples have now become highly aggressive and red in color. What follows is a linear story line without much character progression, where our heroes travel the world and help the people survive the attacks of the “Reds” as these new creatures are now named.

Tengin Entertainment has taken an interesting look at the old Norse beliefs and stories. The issues with the story line come from the heroes being fairly generic and the story line not being anything amazing that we haven’t seen before. The story of Kyn serves it’s purpose in driving the narrative of the game, but that’s about it. You will move from one quest to another, killing monsters or rescuing guards, without much change in the story line. Some decisions you do make will have an impact on the world around you, but not enough to really contemplate or stress over that decision.

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Game Play

Kyn is a strategic, action role playing game that centers around Bram and Alrik in the beginning, but as the game progresses you will gather a group of six adventurers to explore the world. While the aesthetics of the adventurers are as generic as they can be, the stats, skills, and gear can be changed at any time and throughout the game. You can change a character from two-handed dps specialization to a sword and board tank specialization with just a couple clicks of the mouse button. As items are dropped or crafted, you will be able to adjust your skills and stats to best utilize what you have in your inventory. I loved the flexibility of this system since it allowed me to best utilize the tons of loot that would drop.

Speaking of loot, Kyn has a very deep loot and crafting system that will take some time to get the hang of it. I did seem to get plenty of crafting materials just by completing basic quests, but it was difficult sometimes figuring out what materials I needed for a specific piece. Loot was very diverse and plentiful, which is a must in a game like this. It is reminiscent of the old Diablo II days, where everytime you kill something, you get that moment of anticipation for what will be dropped.

Combat, on the other hand, is fairly dull and lifeless. It’s mostly going to be “point, click, use skill, repeat” with only a slow time mechanic that really changes things up. The space bar will allow you to slow time for a small duration, while you figure out who needs to attack what. You will find that most of the time, your party will be attacking the wrong people and will need the slow time mechanic to fix that.

Kyn is also full of puzzles that need to be solved during the story line. The puzzles are very similar to what one would find in a typical Zelda game, with switches, pressure plates, or other similar devices. Some puzzles will require that you split your party up and have to manage two groups to get passed. None of the puzzles in Kyn where that overly difficult to solve, but they do kill the replay value, since once you finish the game you already know how to by pass these puzzles on a second run through.

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Aesthetic

Kyn is a beautiful game, especially for a two man indie team of developers. The level design is flawless, the world is beautiful and interesting, even though the characters themselves are somewhat generic in appearance and looks. Kyn is worth playing just for the run through it’s beautiful landscapes.

For sound design, the team went with no voice actors. All dialogue is text driven, which is a shame but understandable when it comes down to this not being a game with a huge budget. The music, however, is absolutely gorgeous. While it may not be as iconic as Halo or Kingdom Hearts, it is an absolutely joy to listen to as you venture through the world of Kyn.

Final Thoughts

Kyn is a solid game, that balances the good with the bad enough to make it enjoyable to play especially at the $20 price point. While Kyn may have a boring combat system and a rather weak story line, it does have a beautiful aesthetic, great level design, and a loot and crafting system that is deep and fun to play with. Kyn will keep you entertained for about fifteen hours, and that’s a lot of game play for a little money. If you are looking for a decent indie game to pass the last days of summer, than you can do far worse then Kyn. If you can’t overlook a few negatives and enjoy Kyn as a whole, then you may want to skip this one. Kyn is available now on Steam.

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Stronghold Crusader 2 – The Templar and the Duke DLC – A Review (PC)

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Firefly Studios has released yet another DLC pack for their castle-building RTS game, Stronghold Crusader 2. This new DLC pack is titled The Templar and the Duke. The Templar and the Duke DLC pack follows the same form as the rest of the packs for Stronghold Crusader 2, containing 2 new AI opponents, a new single player missions strand, new castles, new shields, and new achievements. While, at first glance, The Templar and the Duke looks exactly the same as the rest, The Templar and the Duke is my favorite so far due to the extreme differences between the two new characters.

The New Challengers

The first new challenger is the Templar. The Templar is the fanatical knight, bent on wiping out the Muslims from the Holy Land. Once a knight in King Richard’s army, the Templar has been promoted due to his brutality in handling the enemies of the Holy Land. The Templar sees himself as the harbinger of justice from God and represents the unwavering conviction that the Crusaders had for their mission and the lengths that they will go to achieve success.

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On the other hand, the Duke represents the complete opposite of the spectrum from the Templar. Having traveled from France, the Duke is here to share in the glory if the Crusades succeed, but has an escape plan ready to go in case they do not. Leading a life of pampering and seclusion from the real world, the Duke has been able to build up a lordly appearance but is incapable of leading in the battlefield. The Duke appears confident to others, but is truly riddled with self-doubt and has only joined the Third Crusade because he feels he has something to prove.

The Templar is the classic rts opponent of the two new characters. The Templar’s castle is of a rigid and structured design, built to withstand the heaviest of sieges. The Duke is the unpredictable opponent, whose castle will have no apparent rhyme or reason to its design. It was how different each of these characters built their castles is why I liked this dlc the most so far. I had a real feel for how different these two opponents really where and the differences in their designs made the dlc a strong one to recommend.

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Final Thoughts

Firefly Studios is releasing new content for Stronghold Crusader 2 at a good pace, with this being the third dlc pack since the game’s release last September. Each dlc pack extends the single player game by one mission strand, and introduces two new characters. The Templar and the Duke is my favorite dlc pack to date from Firefly Studios, because of how different these two characters feel from each other. The Templar is the dedicated fanatical knight bent on the ultimate conquering of the Holy Lands, while the Duke is in it only for the glory if it all goes right, and will run at the first hint of failure. Their castle designs represent this difference as well, and you will need two completely different sets of skills to defeat either the Templar or the Duke. The dlc pack costs $6, which has been the standard price for everything that has come out. I feel that the price point is extremely fair for what you get, and fans of Stronghold Crusader 2 should definitely pick up this pack. If you haven’t yet picked up Stronghold Crusader 2, you now have quite a lot of content to get through for a modest price.

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Stronghold Crusader 2 – The Emperor and the Hermit DLC (PC) – A Review

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Firefly Studios have been busy, releasing yet another DLC pack for their RTS title, Stronghold Crusader 2. This DLC pack is called The Emperor and the Hermit, which brings two more enemy characters to the game, 7 new missions, new castle designs, new achievements, and new shields to match the new armies. This DLC pack does not add any new game play elements, besides the new AI for the Emperor and the Hermit armies. The game plays the same as the original release, so the need for this DLC will depend on whether or not you want more single player missions, or need some new skins for multiplayer. Of course, at $4.00 on Steam, it’s also one of the cheapest DLC packs you can find for almost any game.

New Opponents

Like The Princess and the Pig DLC, the pack introduces two new generals: the aforementioned Emperor and the Hermit. The Emperor is originally from Germany and was once a high profile religious leader in the world. Eventually excommunicated from the Church, the Emperor now leads a small army of his fanatical followers as he tries to liberate the Holy Land. The Emperor’s quest is more of one for power and authority rather then religious fervor, but his followers follow him into the Holy Land blindly and with a fanaticism that hasn’t been seen.

The Hermit also controls an army of religious zealots, but with the goal to keep King Richard out of the Holy Land. The Hermit was raised in these lands with no royal lineage, no preordained authority or even military background. What the Hermit has is the loyalty of the locals, who are equally as angry as the Hermit with the invasion of their lands by the Christians.

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Final Thoughts

I personally liked the Hermit’s forces better, simply because of their overall aesthetic design. The new castle designs for the Hermit showed a much more Middle Eastern flavor, which is nice in contrast to the last couple of dlc characters being mostly Westerners. The single player trail is fairly challenging and will offer a nice little extension to the overall game.

Other than the additional characters, the new trail, and some aesthetic design changes, The Emperor and the Hermit plays exactly the same as the main game does. There is no other changes to the core game play, so if you choose to skip this DLC you will not be missing anything more then a little extra single player game play and two new characters. However, for fans of Stronghold Crusader 2, you can’t really pass this up, mostly due to the price point. The Emperor and the Hermit is available now through Steam for $4.00.

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