Tag - Campaign

For Honor Review (PC)

For Honor has easily been one of the most highly anticipated games of the year – partly due to its smoothly rendered gameplay and beautifully decorating battlegrounds/environments.  Even more important, however, is that For Honor helps us settle one of the most pressing questions among armchair historians and gamers alike: Who would win in a fight between samurai, vikings, and medieval knights?

For Honor!

It should be noted early on in this review, that For Honor requires a pretty hefty footprint of hard drive space: 40 GBs!  Also, it isn’t a slouch in the performance requirements either, so be sure that your rig can handle it before you get the game.  Obviously, our console-playing brethren are all-set on this point because all they need is a decent internet connection – but, I digress.  The PC version, however, will allow you to boost up those beautiful graphics so much that you might just stop and watch all the flame and smoke, possibly at the expense of your own execution.

When it comes to battle there are two primary methods of melee combat, the first being a more tactical style of fighting.  In For Honor, this style of combat is toggled into with the left CTRL button and not unlocked from until the key is struck again or until one of you is dead.  In boss fights this proves to be particularly handy because boss strike and counter times can be very small so seeing it on the screen can really help.  It also helps you to time an execution mode on an enemy which adds points but more importantly looks bad ass.  This mode also helps you aim in battle which can be helpful so that you don’t miss an enemy and smack your weapon into a wall leaving your whole flank open.

The other style of fighting is more of a brawler or gorilla style where you are not locked onto the enemy and instead you just move in, try to make some strikes and move back out when you have taken too many blows or the style isn’t working and you need to go into tactical mode.  This kind of fighting is pretty handy when it comes to quick strikes and if one of your loaded skills is health regeneration this might give you a chance to get some distance and some healing in before another round.  This is also nice for keeping an eye on the enemy in case it suddenly becomes a two or three on one match, you might want to bug out.  It might be good to mention that among the different game difficulty settings, there is a “realistic” mode which means one death and that character is permanently gone.

There are the primary types of fighting styles but there are also individual upgrades that you can get depending on the group you fight for and the style of the fighter in question.  A lot of players out there just care about multiplayer gaming and that is totally fine – though if they do just that and not play the single player campaign, they will miss out on an interesting story of how three of the greatest fighting groups the world has ever known came to blows.

Multiplayer in interesting because it involves three fairly common types of gameplay modes, but the battles all serve a greater purpose.  First off you have a player versus player dueling mode which is pretty straightforward, or you can do player vs. AI duel which is nice since all the players can be allied.  On these environment is important to keep a quick eye, because a big burning cauldron for light can also “light up” a player and pushing someone towards a broken ledge railing might leave them a splat on the ground. While it is considered more honorable to let a player face just one other person instead of multiple players teaming up against another, honor can be hard to find and loose alliances will be formed, Hunger Games style.  There is a nice response to these alliances though: the revenge mode.  If two or more players are hitting you, it fills up a meter which, when full, can activate the revenge mode. This mode let’s you attack back viciously and may give you the chance to even the odds again!

Then there is Dominion multiplayer mode which is basically a control point game.  The captured control zones give you points much faster than slaughtering your enemy and when you capture a control point your army of pawns will move up onto it if it is the connected control point to the one they are already guarding.  Taking out their pawns also helps this process but fighting the other players and maintaining captured control points are key.  This was my favorite mode because if your teammate is down and not executed you can go and revive them.  It really feels like a mode that fosters good teamwork and if you aren’t the best at combat your team will still appreciate the best healer.  Obviously, you can’t heal a player with no head, so players that are executed cannot be healed.

One of the best things about the battles is that they aren’t just for the heck of it.  You can find armor, patterns, symbols, and tattoos to customize your character.  Most importantly though wins and losses go towards holding sections in a Risk type style game map.  At the end of the tournament time the one with the most lands and point is declared the winning faction.

Healing My Wounds:

For Honor is a beautiful game with amazing graphics and audio on the PC with well-balanced classes and carefully developed combat styles.  Players who just like to run and smash and bash may not find this to be the game for them. Players that like to mix a bit of strategy with their fighting game and are comfortable working their way slowly through levels will find For Honor a great play they keep going back to.


For Honor Review Score:

(4 out of 5 Stars)


 

Defense Grid 2 Review

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It doesn’t seem all that long ago that tower offense and tower defense were only found as part of a bigger titles, such as StarCraft. Eventually, the tower offense came on the scene, with big with games like League of Legends. Now there are hundreds of tower offense games, some massive and hugely popular like LoL and others small and obscure ones with no real name at all except “tower offense game.” Defense Grid was one of those tower defense titles with high production value and a loose campaign storyline to tie the missions together. Now, we have Defense Grid 2! Does it raise the bar? Press on, dear reader….

Description:
Defense Grid 2, DG2, is the highly-anticipated sequel to Hidden Path Entertainment’s 2008 Defense Grid: The Awakening. Setting the bar as the definitive tower defense game, Defense Grid 2 introduces new worlds and threats to test your tower placement strategies. With a bold new look, a compelling single-player campaign, and the addition of new game modes, online player-versus-player and multiplayer co-op, every play-through brings fun new opportunities and challenges.

Features:

  • DG2 comes with a story campaign featuring 21 stunning maps, dynamic level movement, and an expanded story and cast of characters. This definitive tower defense game delivers with new experiences and story for players of all skill types.
  • Defense Grid 2 comes with new co-op and competitive multiplayer modes. With controller input, you can even play through the entire story campaign with another person, together in Doubles mode.
  • Defense Grid has hundreds of ways to play the game, and DG2 will have hundreds of challenge mode missions where you can play the game with new rulesets and approaches. New challenge modes will appear in DG2 and some old favorites.

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Hands On:
I’ll admit to some confusion playing this game. I have played Defense Grid: Awakening on multiple platforms and I still don’t fully get the storyline. I believe it is about incorporating new AIs into our military operations to help us win battles against the aliens. These AIs with also help seek out new worlds where the aliens have not yet infested so we can colonize them. That’s the basics anyway, with weird dialog about whether a soul is necessary for true intelligence and if some are better of without either. I’m sure whole articles can be written about it and if someone would like to clue me in, feel free to do so in the comments. Otherwise, I might just hold to what I read in “Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep” (the basis for Blade Runner).

Gameplay is straight forward and missions can be handled in many different ways. There is a campaign mode which give you 21 maps to build your defenses on and figure out the best way to stop the alien offense. Each map has its own challenges which, even when playing in normal mode, will keep you on your strategic toes. If it strikes you as too easy or you want different challenges you can add additional conditions such as “cannot upgrade towers to red (top) level” or “limited resources for building.” In some cases the mode can actually remove limitations such as “all towers unlocked” mode which lets you build all the designs you want. I plan to go back and play each map on this mode just to see how fun OP can be. Some of these modes are suggested by the community (such as that last one) and others are the result of the diabolical minds of the design team. Either way you can tell these guys have years of experience making protecting your goodies a nightmare.

If fighting against an AI under all those challenge modes isn’t enough, you can go online and play cooperative with like-minded strategists  – even playing through the entire campaign. One of the challenge modes even allows players to only build on their assigned defense posts so you are hoping they pick the right things so you don’t have to try to pick up the slack somehow with your towers.

The choice of which towers to build really opens up as the campaign progresses. You start with a gun, then a flame thrower, working your way up with the possibility of improving the post your tower is placed on as well as upgrading your towers themselves. The upgrades go green for basic, yellow for middle and red for top of the line. The post bases can be upgraded to have different characteristics to help in the battle. Generally you have to choose range compared to damage at the beginning but once you progress it becomes more of cost versus coverage. Again a fairly standard tactic in tower defense games but one well implemented here.

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What really makes the game stand out are the units. Your enemy has some cool looking offensive units and you have some towers that look cool but damage even cooler. The graphics are great and colorful and the tower damage graphics such as fire and explosions are satisfying. It comes down to good strategy makes for some bitchin fireworks.

It should also be noted that the game works really well with the Xbox One controller making me think it was designed for it and not ported.

Last Shot:
Defense Grid 2 is a strategy player’s dream with more ways to take on each map than many games have to play all their maps combines. I am more of a tower defense junkie than a tower offense one, and this stands out as one of the best titles in recent years. I can see going back to play this game time and again, each time a bit different, no two games alike and hopefully getting a buddy to join in on the mayhem.

[easyreview title=”Defense Grid 2 Review Score” cat1title=”Overall Score (out of 5)” cat1detail=”” cat1rating=”5″ ]

Adventure Park Review (PC/Steam)

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There are all kinds of social simulation games out there. Some use a ‘Second Life’ system where you build houses and have full online lives and loves. Others allow gamers to design skyscrapers, regulating elevators and setting rent values. Then there are city sims, which have taken on many faces over the years – from trailer parks to theme parks, the latter being one of the most diverse and popular.  Who doesn’t like the idea of making a theme park, balancing scenery and setting with distances and facilities?  Wish a park had high-G rides?  Build them, but remember to have trash cans near the entrance, because there will be protein spills!  Adventure Park takes all these things into consideration and more, giving you a nice in-depth sim game while allowing you to still enjoy the rides.

Description:
What would you do with the power to create the theme park of your dreams? Perhaps you would become the brilliant creator of a rollercoaster kingdom, the architect of inspiring landscapes, or even the tyrannical overlord of high-priced concessions. It’s your park, your rules. Adventure Park, available now for PC on Steam, gives you the power to build and control every facet of your own personal theme park and take a seat to experience it all firsthand. Hire the workers, invest in new rides, shape the landscapes, and above all, keep your customers happy. With a touch of creativity and a keen mind for business, you can turn a barren plot of land into a stunning empire.

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Features:

  • Build the theme park of your dreams! Play in Campaign Mode or in Free Play on one of eight different maps.
  • Roller coasters and more! Offer your visitors lots of exciting attractions (e.g. Freefall Tower, Ferris Wheel). Use different types of tracks and the intuitive, grid-free track building system to construct spectacular rides to delight the park’s visitors.
  • Adventuring will get you hungry…and thirsty! Provide the appropriate infrastructure in the park, with food stands, souvenir shops and the right staff (e.g. gardeners), so that your guests will always feel at home.
  • The best managers have always got everything under control! The only way to ensure your park is a success is to always keep an eye on all the goings-on in the park and know how to manage them with skill. The comprehensive management system is structured intuitively, while still offering a challenge for more experienced players.
  • A theme park where there’s always something to be smartened up! A whole load of items such as statues, fountains, lamps, fences, rocks and plants allow you to design the park just as you like it.

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Hands On:
Everybody poops.  This should be the first rule of any decently defined simulation which tries to have a solid AI.  If a game requires players to build bathrooms, then you know they are trying for at least a certain degree of realism.  Adventure Park, in turn, requires restaurants, bathrooms, trash cans (particularly outside the Puke-A-Wheel), cleaning crews, gardeners for foliage, and lots of repairmen to keep the coasters on the tracks.  That being said, you can also avoid most of the micromanaging by just making sure you have a solid staff and put a potty near any food sources.  You can concentrate on the thing you are really playing the game for: designing your dream coasters.

There is both campaign and free play modes to choose from, which is great because sometimes you want to complete the specific tasks that the creators intended and sometimes you just want to make a beastly coaster with massive Gs that barely stays on the tracks and requires two expert technicians to keep from crumbling apart.  The campaign mode does a great job of coming up with challenges and a wide variety of maps to work with as well as very unique scenarios.  The free play does a terrific job of maintaining the laws of physics so that you can’t make a coaster that would leave Newton cursing at you.  Be warned, however, as you can make coasters that physically hurt your riders if it is too extreme.

Adventure Park does a nice job of giving you options when it comes to plants and decorations so that for example one of the options is a jack-o-lantern but there are multiple colors, faces and sizes to choose from so that all your decorations don’t look alike, you have a chance to really create your own unique vision.

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Last Call:
Adventure Park is a solid theme park simulator that allows you to both play a structured game if you want completing challenges and still allows you the free play option that makes it possible to make the park of your dreams without worrying about failing missions.  There is depth to the game such as needs for trash cans, bathrooms and price setting but at the same time it doesn’t bog you down so greatly that you lose the joy of making roller coasters, which is really the draw to this type of game in the first place.  I recommend this for any city or theme park simulator fan.

[easyreview title=”Adventure Park Review Score” cat1title=”Overall Score (out of 5)” cat1detail=”” cat1rating=”4″ ] [button target=”_blank” style=”” class=”btn_blue” link=”http://gamingshogun.com/gamingshogun-rating-system/”]Learn About Our Rating System[/button]

CastleStorm Review (XBLA)

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I have to hand it to Zen Studios: When they do something, they take the time to do it right.  We fell in love with the physics modelling in their Zen Pinball so much, that we own virtual tables on four platforms! Different tables on each one, I might add. That is how much we respect their pinball.  So, when I got to play CastleStorm, I thought I would have the chance to experience a very solid tower defense game with terrific physics.  What I didn’t expect was that Zen Studios decided to take tower defense and mix it together with elements from one of the all time favorite mobile games, Angry Birds. It’s a mashup that works so well, it might be hard to go back to a regular tower defense game!

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Official Features:

The clouds bring rumors of war…
It’s Knights vs. Vikings in CastleStorm, where medieval warfare meets 2D physics-based destruction!  Controlling the battle in real time, players will harness the power of medieval artillery, manage a fearsome ground attack, and cast powerful spells!  CastleStorm features a story-driven solo campaign, a custom castle editor, online multiplayer, co-op modes, and more.  Building castles and knocking them down has never been so much fun!  CastleStorm is a physics based tower destruction game, combining elements of real time strategy, resource management, and a beautiful blend of challenging gameplay scenarios.

Multiplayer battles and Co-op. CastleStorm features multiple modes of multiplayer action for both local and online play

  • 1 vs. 1 split-screen mode, simply try and beat your opponent
  • Survival Co-op: Two players team up to fight off waves of enemies together! One player will control the ballista, the other controls ground forces
  • Last Stand Co-op: Both players control a hero and fight off endless waves of enemies together!

Build your own castle! CastleStorm features a tower construction editor allowing players to construct their own custom castles that will be used in battle. Castles must be constructed wisely, as choices determine which types of troops and resources will be available during battle!

Twelve incredibly beautiful environments and a comical story, in stunning stereoscopic 3D. Sir Gareth leads his troops into battle against the raging Vikings to recover the stolen gem and bring peace to the realm!

Multiple paths to victory – you can choose how to defeat your enemy. Capture the flag, destroy their castle, or complete another predetermined level objective in order to claim victory. Each level features multiple objectives, each with their own rewards!

An arsenal that would make any medieval warrior proud! Harness the power of medieval ballista weaponry, and launch an assortment of explosive weapons including Morningstars, Apple Grenades, Homing Eagles, and even flying sheep to defeat an onslaught of enemies trying to capture your flag and destroy your castle. Deploy a fearsome ground attack of swordsmen, knights, and donkey riders in order to protect your castle gates, and if all else fails, call upon powerful spells to help keep the enemy at bay.

You’ve won the battle, now power up so you can win the war! As you power up in CastleStorm, new weapons and troop classes become available for use in battle.

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Hands On:

CastleStorm is a 2D side-scrolling tower defense/offense game where players send units out to attach each others castles as well as any potential opposing units along the way.  At this point, it sounds like pretty standard tower defense fare, with leveling the units and trying to pick the right combination to bridge the gap.  Then you have your main character: Your hero, who is supposed to be your avatar on the field that you can level and pick spells for, actually joins your forces in battle.  This is a different enough touch to have some bonus levels and gameplay options dedicated to it and can strategically be a huge game changer if you level him right and send him out to tear a path through the enemy’s gate so your troops can capture their flag.

Where the game gets really interesting though is it has this Angry Birds aspect to it.  Each side has castles that are built with see-through side walls and rooms dedicated to each troop type.  Each side also has ballistas so they can fire at each other’s castle walls AND enemy troops crossing the field. These projectiles can knock down enemy castle walls with stones that split in midair or with apples that explode on command or launch sheep that fart poisonous gas at the troops passing across the field!  The result is playing an Angry Birds style game where you are attacking units as well as buildings, playing tower defense on what units you send out and playing hack and slash when you get down on the field yourself.  To top it all off, your hero can cast spells from the safety of his castle that may provide defense for his units and building or offense against enemy units.

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The result is a strategy game with multiple ways to win and multiple ways to lose.  Just about every level gives you a bonus objective, like wining the match in under four minutes or not take any damage to a particular room of your castle.  This is important, because if a room in your castle gets destroyed that represents a particular unit or unit bonus, you lose it for the round! You wind up having to design your own castle as part of the game so you become very aware of what units or bonuses you will lose first if you don’t build with care and the enemy starts raining destruction down on your stronghold.

The graphics are playful and comical as is the storyline and, as a result, the game is deceptively sophisticated.  It pokes fun at its similarities to Angry Birds as well as making pop culture references to IPs such as Game of Thrones (one of these really cracked me up) so that you can laugh and have fun with the story and the gameplay.  Be advised, if you take things too lightly, your castle will undoubtedly fall. Stay sharp!

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Last Round:

CastleStorm is a great mix of game styles that Zen Studios pulls off beautifully.  I replayed many levels over and over as I went through just so that I could try a different strategy out.  On one attempt, I might concentrate on taking down their castle then I would play it again and see if I could beat it faster with a handful of troops and my hero storming their gates.  I never actually cared that much for the Angry Birds games and now I think I know why – the enemy wasn’t fighting back!

Note: At the time of this review the game had not yet been released so online multiplayer was not testable enough for an opinion.

[easyreview title=”CastleStorm Review Score” cat1title=”Overall Score (out of 5)” cat1detail=”” cat1rating=”4″ ]

Trailer

Bad Bots Preview (PC)

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I’ve played console games since there were consoles to play them on.  Over the years, certain fond memories stick out in my mind. Memories like all-night gaming sessions on the weekend with a stack of rented games, a 12 pack of highly caffeinated and sugary soda, and a few good friends that you felt you could spend 24 hours straight with.  One of these weekends that particularly stands out was playing the original Contra, and a couple other titles, until our eyes were bleary and bloodshot.  When it came to “buddy games”, few stood out like Contr: Simple, 2D side-scrolling action that kept you going and going.  Because so many people have such fond memories of these games, a ton of modern-day indie titles have come out that try very hard to capture that nostalgic gameplay.  These retro games might seem like win-win at first, but the funny thing about nostalgia is it is often rooted in a specific time. Graphics and gaming were not what they are nowadays and, as a result, even retro games are expected to have some updated elements. Bad Bots walks a dangerous line between fond yesterdays and modern expectations.

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Description:

Bad Bots is a retro style platform shooter with intense robot blasting action and sci-fi story.  You hack and blast your way through an onslaught of truly bad ‘bots to find a way to prevent a potentially planet-destroying catastrophe. Bad Bots stars Sam McRae, a grease mechanic aboard the “Titan Hauler” space cargo ship who wakes from cryogenic hypersleep to discover the ship’s robotic crew has been reprogrammed to destroy humans. Even worse, the ship has been rerouted on an explosive collision course with Earth.  You can play either the Challenges Mode to see if you can survive sixty seconds in a room with an endless supply of robots or the story-based Campaign Mode that includes boss battles, puzzles and a compelling story.

Features:

  • More than 170 rooms across a rich story-based Campaign Mode.
  • Several unique robot types including seven intense bosses.
  • Eight robot bustin’ weapons including a rifle, explosive grenade launcher, pulsar gun and more.
  • A Challenge Mode where you try to survive 60 seconds against an endless onslaught of especially persistent and cranky gun-toting robots.
  • Fourteen challenging Achievements.
  • The full frackin’ game! No ads, no upsells and nothing else to pay for!

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Hands On:

The first thing one can saw about Bad Bots is that IndiePub has made one very addictive video game here.  I quickly lost track of time and spent way too long on one gaming stretch without moving (and I am totally sore as a result).  The cutscenes that tell part of the story are done in a comic book panel style and that’s really smart, because it can show some graphic quality without being so stunning as to make the retro feel of the game seem old rather than vintage.  The game’s graphics are simple, yet clean, with details here and there to bring the retro feel home without feeling shabby.  This is a difficult line to walk but, when done right, the player really doesn’t notice unless they are meant to.

There is a storyline of an every-man hero trying to save himself while avenging his fellow shipmates, but this is easily lost in the action which is fine.  Retro 2D side scrolling shooters really need only the most basic of premise, it is all about the action and whether or not it borders on overwhelming while still being fun.  Bad Bots throws bot after bot at you, wearing down your health and ammo, dropping just enough of each at just the right time to keep an experienced player alive. But, if you die a lot don’t worry as you just go back to the last checkpoint (also, there are achievements for dying!).

The weapons are of a suitable variety to please just about everyone. You get one melee weapon, one standard weapon, and one special weapon.  Different special and melee weapons drop throughout the game and it is up to you to choose the ones that suit you best. Your standard weapon remains the same but gets the most ammo drops.  You can even just change special weapons with every drop to keep the variety and fun (as well as ammo stock) though I definitely found a particular favorite and was hard-pressed to deviate from it.  It was mainly the boss fights that made me change up when it became evident that certain bosses were weak against certain weapons.  The bosses, and strategies to beat them, are beautiful throwbacks to the games of old and I found myself thinking “ah this is how I beat that one boss in that one game” a lot.  I even saw some definite homages to standard bad guys from the old games popping up now and then.

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As a single player retro 2D side-scrolling shooter, Bad Bots is about as solid as they come.  The only thing I would REALLY like to see would be two player co-op, the one thing that made many of those retro games so amazing.  This game brings up so much nostalgia but I can’t call my buddies up and play them local or online.  All I can do is say “dude get it and tell me what you think” then wait and find out.  I know coding and therefore cost shoots up when you add such an element and IndiePub, even by its name, brings home the fact that it is an indie work of love. But, if there were a way in “Bad Bots 2: Badder Bots Beat Back” I would love this game on a whole new level.

First Round:

I played the preview build of the game so it could still change a lot by release date but it is a very solid play at this point that really doesn’t even need a fresh coat of polish.  Bad Bots lives up to everything it claims to be: A retro, 2D side scrolling shooter, which brings up nostalgia while maintaining excellent gameplay and graphics which, though reminiscent of games past, aren’t hard on the eyes.  When you have a solid game like this, time flies while your killing bots and trying to save the world.

Anomaly 2 Preview (PC/Beta)

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While the game is currently in beta and still needs to get lots of work done to polish the mechs and oil the scales, 11 bit Studios has given us a taste of what’s to come with their Anomaly 2.  I pride myself on playing real time strategy games – every one I can get my hands on and, for the most part, the differences between them tend not to be the game mechanics but, simply, the story that unfolds or, in some cases, the player create throughout the game.  The games basically follow a formula as straight forward as a tower defense to a micromanaged economy with variations in between.  Surprises are few and far between, so it is nice to preview a game that had me wondering what would happen next right up until the end.

Storyline:

In the years following the invasion of Earth in 2018, the planet is overrun by alien machines. Humankind is on the verge of extinction. Banded together in huge convoys, they search the frozen tundra for food and supplies. Since the war, the roles have been reversed: now our species seems to be the Anomaly on a machine-controlled planet. Your convoy, Commander, is called Yukon.

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Features:

Anomaly 2 is a real-time strategy game that takes the tower offense concept from Anomaly Warzone Earth to a new level. Maintaining the core concepts of the original – tactical planning and the on-field Commander to support troops in combat – Anomaly 2 introduces a number of important new features:

  • Morph your troops into war mechs to discover the new face of strategy: each unit has a different mech form with various abilities to help you overcome specific combat situations.
  • Engage in a multiplayer experience unique to Anomaly 2: tower defense vs. tower offense. Play as the towers and destroy the humans or lead the humans to annihilate the alien towers.
  • Fight across a post-apocalyptic world in a new single-player campaign that offers a more intense strategy experience than the acclaimed original.
  • Carve your own path to victory and create your ultimate battle squad. With over million tactical combinations to build your squad, your options in combat are nearly endless.
  • Dive into a beautifully rendered world, thanks to the team’s new and improved visual engine.
  • Experience alternative endings dependent upon your approach to enemy machines in the campaign.

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Hands On:

In the game’s official description, it mentions the on-field Commander that was introduced in the first game. If you didn’t play the first game, this will be a unique experience in and of itself.  Normally, when it comes to command roles in an RTS, it boils down to clicking units on the screen and directing them where to go.  In the tradition of tower defense games, the route through most of the levels is determined by carefully laid-out terrain and trails. Again in the tower defense tradition, these trailer are lined with proximity tower locations.  One nice thing is that any location that can have a variation on path, any intersection or fork in the road you can determine which route your convoy will take right up until the moment they hit it, to the point of even creating a closed loop if you want to allow range weapons to work on an enemy such as circling a block with your artillery while hitting one of the enemies a couple blocks up.  Strategy plays heavily into the routing aspect as well as the unit choice and unit form choice, everything from range to rate of fire affect the outcome.  This strategy allows players to replay a map several times by selecting different units, different forms, and different routes to maximize speed, damage, and achievements.

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The real difference in this game is in the on-field Commander and how he changes up the possibilities with his ever-growing variety of skills.  For example, your units are cruising along through the rubble of New York City, fighting off mechanized insects as they pop up and attack on the side of the road. All the while, you have a unit known as the Commander running, yes running, through the debris and alleyways as fast as he can healing your units while messing with the enemy ones all controlled by you.  To a degree, most tower defense games you set up your units and send them into the grinder but, in this one, you are constantly manually controlling the Commander around the field.  Do you use your energy to throw a heal bubble on the road in front of your artillery that took damage in the last attack or do you sprint ahead and lay down decoys that will temporarily distract the enemies so they will delay hitting your forces?  Do you spend your energy setting off an EMP to temporarily shut down an enemy unit or do you change to wide map, adjust your convoy’s directions to buy yourself time to repair them and transform their forms?  Unlike most tower defense games where you have built what you have built and it is time to see how it faces the enemy, your Commander abilities keep you constantly making adjustments and changes.  If you want a breather you need to either pause the game or route your forces through some undefended area because otherwise you are dealing with an unusual hybrid: A micromanaging tower defense game.

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First Round:

I like this game already even with having only played the early build they provided.  I was constantly looking forward to the next commander upgrade and to find out what I could do with it, thinking outside standard strategy to get things done in a unique way.  My on-field Commander must have been on some serious energy drinks because I had him running all over the map and I was constantly popping from close map to wide routing map.  I have always loved a good tower defense and RTS management game but this hybrid definitely had me coming back for more.  Anomaly 2, this commander waits for your release impatiently.

Crysis 3 Hunter Edition Review (PC)

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When it came time to review Crysis 3, the whole Gaming Shogun crew got excited. That is, until they took a minute to look at the required specs to run it! At that point, it was just down to the Chief and I.  His rig wins out, but his schedule keeps him just busy enough that I got the honor.  Heck, I had to double check to make sure I could play it, a mistake I learned from the first Crysis arriving on PC and my old rig not quite being up to the task. I could play a little on the lowest setting with the knowledge that I would no doubt crash regularly.  When it comes to this franchise, more than just about any other, they believe in taking full advantage of the graphic possibilities the PC platform can provide. As a result, not everyone can play this game, but those that can are in for an amazing visual treat.

Storyline:

Return to the fight as Prophet, the Nanosuit soldier on a quest to rediscover his humanity.  Adapt on the fly with the stealth and armor abilities of your unique Nanosuit as you battle through the seven wonders of New York’s Liberty Dome.  This is one of the few times I feel I have to chime in and say that this really simplifies a much deeper story than their description Sometimes in shooters such as this the story really is paper thin and simply a premise for battle, but I watched the cutscenes wishing I had some popcorn, the voice acting was good and the story, even if you can predict the twists, is really enjoyable.

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Features:

Suit Up! Use the enhanced Nanosuit to Assess, Adapt, and Attack every situation and experience tactical freedom in the premiere , sandbox First Person Shooter game.

Assume the role of Prophet in a campaign to save mankind against human and alien forces in the challenging environments of the NYC Liberty Dome. Hunt with your Nanosuit Online in 8 Multiplayer Modes including the new, thrilling Hunter and fan favorite, Crash Site modes.

A dangerous new world demands fearsome weapons like the new, Predator Bow or the deadly Typhoon Projectile Minigun. If human technology doesn’t suit you, go for high-tech alien weaponry including the devastating Ceph Plasma Destroyer or the merciless Reaper Cannon.

Powered by CryENGINE 3, Crysis 3 delivers visually stunning graphics and a varied sandbox gameplay experience unmatched by any other First Person Shooter.

1 City. 7 Wonders. Explore a futuristic, urban rainforest set in New York City with 7 unique, sandbox environments.

Hunter Edition Includes:

  • Predator Bow
  • Recon Arrow
  • Hunter Nanosuit Module
  • Level 5 XP Headstart in MP
  • 3 Unique Dog Tags

Requirements:

Minimum:

  • Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8
  • DirectX 11 graphics card with 1Gb Video RAM
  • Dual core CPU
  • 2GB Memory (3GB on Vista)
  • Example 1 (Nvidia/Intel):
  • Nvidia GTS 450
  • Intel Core2 Duo 2.4 Ghz (E6600)
  • Example 2 (AMD):
  • AMD Radeon HD5770
  • AMD Athlon64 X2 2.7 Ghz (5200+)

Recommended:

  • Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8
  • DirectX 11 graphics card with 1GB Video RAM
  • Quad core GPU
  • 4GB Memory
  • Example 1 (Nvidia/Intel):
  • Nvidia GTX 560
  • Intel Core i5-750
  • Example 2 (AMD):
  • AMD Radeon HD5870
  • AMD Phenom II X4 805

High Performance:

Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8

  •  Latest DirectX 11 graphics card
  • Latest quad core CPU
  • SLI / Crossfire configurations will run even better
  • 8GB Memory
  • Example 1 (Nvidia/Intel):
  • NVidia GTX 680
  • Intel Core i7-2600k
  • Example 2 (AMD):
  • AMD Radeon HD7970
  • AMD Bulldozer FX4150

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Hands-On:

I resigned myself early-on to the idea of game crashes, even though I was running above minimum specs.  The CryEngine 3 is a demanding mistress that always wants more.  Thankfully, the game is built with lots of checkpoints, quite often before and after action in case the absolutely next level amazing graphics and combat just give your system a knockout punch. This meant it was seldom that you found yourself really far back in a level from a game crash or nano suit operator error (aka death).  It also meant that the loading of the last checkpoint is usually much shorter than the average game as well, so that you don’t lose your rhythm when you lose your pulse.

A couple of the things I have always felt to be important in a computer system are its monitor and graphics card.  My Samsung monitor has a 5,000,000 to 1 contrast ratio (compared to the average 30,000 to 1) and so the detail was better than most screenshots I have seen or the most detailed conceptional art.  You see the pores on the character’s skins, you see more colors in a few minutes of play than you see all day.  It was completely immersive and I had a hard time watching television on regular screens after it.

Of course, a game can look beautiful and still be boring to play. Luckily, Crysis 3 is a pleasure to play and even better with the “Hunter Edition” additions.  The story-line is excellent and engaging in Campaign mode and the multiplayer maps are very solid.  All the great additions to the game from the Hunter Pack, which includes starting with a level 5 character in multiplayer, all work great and the game is as sexy looking as you can hope a game to be.  I could keep going, breaking down the pros and cons of each weapon. Weapons like the Typhoon, a new hell on wheels weapon that destroys everything in its path yet burns through ammo in seconds. However, testing out the game’s various weapons and making the decision to use a particular one is worth playing the game for. The trial and error is a lot of destructive fun.

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Last Call:

If your PC can run this game, play this game!  It is an excellent example of a first person shooter: The weapons are fun, multiplayer maps are well-designed, and the additions from the Hunter Edition are all great.  Have I also mentioned this game is gorgeous?  Crysis 3 is a game worth playing just to see how nice a PC game can look.  What’s more, this will surely become the new benchmark for video game graphics soon, so you may want to pick up whatever PC upgrades you need and reward yourself with some Crysis 3.

[easyreview title=”Crysis 3 Hunter Edition – PC Review Score” cat1title=”Overall Score (out of 5)” cat1detail=”” cat1rating=”4″ ]

Trailer:

Omerta – City Of Gangsters Review (PC/Steam)

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The folks at Kalypso could tell a strategy junkie when they saw one. Maybe it was the fact that I asked if I could take home the 7-foot tall cardboard game standee on the way out of my pre-release preview meeting (I still don’t know how I would have packed it).  I actually have two addictions that this game fed into: Strategy gameplay and Prohibition-era mafia history.  During a time in America when the “trench sweepers” and hand grenades of World War I were making names for themselves on the streets such as the Chicago Typewriter and The Thompson Anti-Bandit Gun, crime was realizing that if their brains matched their brawn they could build empires on the back of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution.  The gangsters required craftiness and innovation to survive but, most importantly, they required strategy.  So, what better time and place to set a strategy game in?

Storyline:

Taking the role of a fresh-from-the-boat immigrant, with dreams of the big life, the player will work his way up the criminal hierarchy of 1920’s Atlantic City.  Starting with small jobs, his character recruits a gang and expands his empire by taking territory from other gangsters. Eventually he establishes his own crime syndicate and becomes the de facto ruler of Atlantic City.

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Official Features:

  • Historically accurate representation of Atlantic City and its landmarks
  • Strategic gameplay allows city overview, planning, expansion and gathering of intel
  • Turn-based tactical combat with a cover system and stealth action
  • 15 unique player controlled characters each with unique personalities and backgrounds
  • A RPG system for development of player characters and managing their equipment
  • Competitive and cooperative multiplayer mode with persistent gangs
  • 15+ hours of gameplay in a single play-through
  • 20 unique maps visualizing the various districts of Atlantic City

Gameplay:

The first time I got to lay fingers on the triggers in this game was at the unveiling of Kalypso’s upcoming Dark game.  The event was spaciously laid out with multiple terminals to try out Dark and in the corner of one room was a single booth with Omerta set up for anyone who happened to have missed it’s unveiling and wanted a look.  Crammed into this booth with people standing off to the side as well watching I saw this strategy game which was not only smart in design (Kalypso and Haemimont Games also brought us the insanely good Tropico series) but themed in my favorite historical era.  Understanding it would be hard to get a proper feel for the game while packed like sardines in a little booth, Kalypso sent me a build code for Omerta on Steam, which I played as far a the build would let me, then waited for the next update.  Whenever development updated I played again putting anything else I had planned to do on the computer aside until I had caught up again.

Eventually this plan didn’t work so well because there are so many ways to play this game with so many different results that you would have to play through the game multiple times to even get a proper taste of its depth.  The game starts off easy with training on how the menus work so you don’t feel out of sorts with them.  Then after you get the idea, the game gives you jobs you can do and objectives to complete on Campaign mode but also gives you plenty of options on how you do them.  Rival gang muscling in on your territory?  You can get them to take a fall, parlay with them or just have a good old fashion negotiation with lead.  Different choices all have different consequences, especially where you are.  If you decide to do a drive-by down by the docks there is bound to be a lot less of a squawk than if you set fire to a mansion in the respectable neighborhoods.  You must also decide if you want to be known as the family man who takes care of his neighborhood providing plenty of soup kitchens and taking care of the less fortunate or if you want to be known as the fella people will cross the streets to avoid stepping on the toes of.  Your enterprise is crime, but not all crimes or criminals are the same.

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You will at some point get “heat” on you and, while a little is fine, too much will get the boys in blue snooping about your business.  If you don’t want to try and run your business wearing black and white striped pajamas, you have to take care of it.  You can setup a patsy, which might not make you such a popular guy. You can pay off the cops, but the price always goes up. Or, you can even cause your troubles to go on a “permanent vacation”.  All choices have consequences so you need more than just consider whether or not you want a speakeasy or a lead parade, you need to use strategy to try to determine what you will do when those succeed or fail.

General gameplay takes place at a street map level like many sim games though you can zoom in right down to street level and watch the action and character’s personalities unfold.  When taking on a job you will generally find yourself in a mini map environment where individual gang member’s combat styles come into play.  So for example you need to rob a bank, you put together a team from your gang you think will best be able to accomplish this and you go into a mini map of the bank with the street outside.  You get a certain number of Movement and Action Points (players of games such as Jagged Alliance and UFO will be familiar with this idea) so you can move a certain number of hexes and then perform as many actions as you can before your points are exhausted and it is the end of that team member’s turn.  As another example, during this bank robbery you have your drunk Irishman Doc charge in the front door and start shooting wildly (and I do mean wild, any team member in front of Doc has a roll for being hit).  He can only move so many hexes forward to the entrance and then he can only take as many shots as he has Action Points available to cover.  It may sound a bit complicated but it is pretty straight forward once you get to playing.  The turn base goes back and forth between your team and the enemy until the job is either a failure or success.  On the subject of success the developers tried to be as realistic as possible when it came to the accuracy and range of weapons as well so don’t be surprised if you miss a guy across the room with your pistol and he hits you with great accuracy with his rifle.

Campaign Mode isn’t the only way to play the game. You can also choose Sandbox mode, which is a fun, less structured game mode, letting you see how you can succeed with your own wits in one of four areas to choose from.  You can work your business up down by the docks or start it in the ritzy neighborhood, the choice is yours as are pretty much all the choices afterwards.  If you want to just build an empire without being told to hire this person now or open this business here this is the way to go.  Also it can be nice to just see what you can do when left to your own devices.

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Another way to play which I expect to be very popular in these days of heavy PvP emphasis in games is the Multiplayer avenue which gives you the choice to work with a teammate to commit a crime or work against each other to see who can rub out whose gang first.  Personally I found I really liked the co-op missions, where you can come up with a strategy as a team and pull off the perfect crime but I get the feeling there are plenty of pals out there just waiting for a chance to knock each other off.  Whichever this is done in the mini map mode and usually consists of a single building map.

Keeping It Fun:

When you are playing a game where crime is its own reward, some might think that making the game too serious might encourage bad behavior.  Luckily the developers kept this in mind and made the game and its characters fun as well as strategic tools.  A great example would be the character “Doc” who is modeled after the stereotype of a drunk Irishman who is almost always at the bar and, when he isn’t, he is thinking of beer (ed. note: Guinness please!).  He is animated as shooting wildly and stumbling around during fights, making it hard not to laugh at his hi-jinks.  Weapon names also have historical accuracy and usually a little tongue in cheek humor behind them too.

Another way the game tries to drift a bit toward the right side of things morally is in some of the missions, one of which is beating the snot out of clansmen running around in hoods.  In missions like that you get a certain amount of satisfaction while at the same time completing game goals.

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Last Call:

When I first saw rumors of this game, I was excited. When I got to see the first builds, I got completely amped.  Then, getting hands on with this game, it just got better.  This is an extremely solid strategy game with a great atmosphere set in an every interesting historical period.  The developers went for accuracy in weapons and missions for the environment and time, while also making sure to have some fun with the characters and animations.  I have played a lot of strategy games over the years and I can honestly say I think this may be one of my favorites.  Omerta – City of Gangsters is a strategic offering you can’t refuse.

[easyreview title=”Omerta – City Of Gangsters Review Score” cat1title=”Overall Score (out of 5)” cat1detail=”” cat1rating=”5″] Our Rating Scores Explained

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Launch Trailer:

Gallery:

Tryst Gameplay Trailer Released

August 3rd, 2012 – This trailer features footage from the single player campaign, which will tell the story of the humans’ side of the war between them and the Zali. Tryst is an RTS game set in the distant future where humans find themselves at war with a mechanical alien race known as the Zali. Tryst features full 8 player support, either in teams or as a free for all, in addition to a single player campaign. Closed beta signups are available on our website at www.trystgame.com
Tryst is a competitive RTS in which players experience reactive environmental dangers, a breadth of unique units and most importantly the A.R.M. – the Augmentation Research Mechanism. This last feature allows the player to equip units with specific load-outs to change their natural advantages and disadvantages.
These features are laid upon a solid foundation of core RTS features like base building, structure-unit dependency and resource management. Tryst features a story and campaign mode in addition to the focus on multiplayer matches that track stats and allow for clans and organized events. With two playable races and a near infinite number of upgrade combinations, the battlefield will always be changing in Tryst.
Trailer:

Confrontation – Review (PC/Steam)

Over the years I have played a lot of RPGs and that is putting it pretty mildly.  Some turn-based, some realtime, some hack and slash, some requiring quite a bit of tactical strategy.  I have learned to love all kinds of different RPGs and found that almost all have some strengths that make them playable, the big question is if they are strong enough to endure.  The best ones wind up being played still over a decade later though there are plenty of great ones that slip through the crack simply because they ride in the shadows of the strongly established.  So first a game must be great then it must be lucky.  The question is whether or not Confrontation winds up being either.

Confrontation doesn’t take very long to show it’s graphically a thing of beauty.  The cut-scenes use the same quality of graphics as its game play with immense details and rich colors.  The music is well composed and the sound is crisp and excellent from the attacks to the death agony screams.  The quality would easily make a great animated series but that is not what they are working for here.  We have to face it however that a game can look great but if it doesn’t play well it isn’t going to survive whereas some games that are just plain ugly have an unlimited lifespan because they are fun and found their audience.

Confrontation is a top down real time tactical RPG where you build up your elite squad of Griffin soldiers to fight against the fearsome creatures of the Alchemists of Dirz (the Scorpion), the ferocious Wolfen packs (the Wolf), and the brutal Orcs of Bran-O-Kor (the Jackal) deep inside the continent of Aarklash.  Starting with warriors,, and working your way through other classes you recruit and redefine your team to both their advantages and your tactical strengths.  This is no “Leroy Jenkins!” game.  Every encounter requires planning and squad placement as well as careful consideration of location.  Fighting in too tight of quarters can block up your melee from getting strikes in, too loose and your healer might start grabbing aggro and taking melee.  There are some skills that the tank class can use to hold aggro but it still comes down to tactical planning.  Playing it I had a lot of close call battles and a couple just flat out failures because I didn’t consider flanking issues or let big melee beasties past my tank and onto the hunter and ranged magic user.  Personally I like a game that creates such challenges so that I have to stop and think rather than just hack and slash through each battle.

The game also has skill trees with lock-off branches so that once you choose a skill path on the character you had better be sure.  One of the more interesting things is upgrades in weapons and armor require finding glyphs on the battlefield which reward credits for each upgrade that go into a pool from which all your characters draw from.  So if you put all your upgrading into a particular character you had better plan to hold onto them for the long run because other characters won’t get anything.

Maps are set up fairly linear with little off shoots that can be taken or avoided which creates the option to engage or avoid patrols as well.  If you like to clean a map you can methodically work your way through, just make sure you have a method or you could find yourself being attacked by multiple patrols and wishing you had snuck by.  Once again this is a tactical RPG and engagement is definitely a factor to consider.  To help with this consideration the camera angle is completely adjustable using the mouse wheel though default is above and slightly behind and during movement will revert back to this location.  Use this option often though because a treasure chest full of bandages could be tucked in a dark corner.  Another nice and helpful feature is the pause located at the space bar that allows you order unit commands and figure out your next move.  Some might think this is too much help but features like this are up to the players to choose or ignore.

The game has a multiplayer mode in which you can play any of the four factions and even challenge particular players to fight.  Since I am reviewing the game prior to release I had a hard time finding players to try this out with but I can say if it as solid as the single-player campaign it should be a lot of fun to play.  It is unfortunate nowadays that a lot of the time the success or failure of a game comes down to how it draws in it’s multiplayer audience more than its single-player campaign though to a degree that is understandable because it does address playtime for your money.

I just have to discuss one feature of this game which doesn’t effect gameplay but to me is one of the most awesome geek touches.  Every old school D&D player and probably a few new ones remembers going to get miniatures at the local hobby store to paint and have sit on the table to represent their characters.  The game actually has a section called Army Painter that lets you paint all the different characters you use and encounter.  As you can see above it looks like a desktop with a coffee cup full of pens and pencils and a couple paint canisters and a styrofoam cup to wash your brush off in.  Honestly I spent quite a while just playing with this feature for the sheer fun of it.  This was a completely unnecessary touch to the game which really endeared it to me or maybe I should say that deep rooted geek within.

Last Call:

This is a solid tactical RPG game with great graphics, excellent game play mechanics and makes you think before you slash.  It has all the makings of a successful game that should appeal to a wide audience.  The key is getting word out and surviving in a market place with a lot of RPGs that are shadowed by giants.