Tag - free to play

Lord of the Rings Online 10th Anniversary Review

Back when Lord of The Rings Online first hit the scene, I was already a seasoned gamer with A LOT of years under my belt. I had played alpha and beta tests of games and knew the pitfalls of game-breaking bugs. I dabbled in the MMO for a while and eventually moved on to other titles. There were many gameplay issues to be balanced out and bugs to fix. The game wasn’t broken by any means, but did take some patience. Fast forward a decade and I had been actually thinking of checking back in on some of the MMOs I had reviewed over the years – then my Editor-in-Chief tells me LotRO is having an in-game 10 year anniversary celebration. So off I go, I make a new account and jump right in.  How has it changed since it first started a decade ago?

First thing I noticed is that there are four free races you can play and nine free classes (when the game first came out it was subscription-based). This gives you a great degree of choice in terms of what race/classes to play without spending a dime. If you choose, you can then you can spend a little money and pick up the man-to-bear shapeshifter called “Beorning”.  This is a race and class combo with its own pros and cons.  Also of note is that I had a displayed “recommended server” for my part of the world with an active population that were both friendly and helpful.  I cannot tell you how many times I go into a game and have a whole bunch of more experienced players give my n00b-butt grief.  One time I was working on a review while recovering from a nasty car accident and a player on my team didn’t like how “n00bish” I was and told me “I hope you get in a car accident”.  The Lord of the Rings Online was totally the opposite, other players offered to tell me the way things were laid out, the standard way to do things, shortcut keys to do it faster and just how I could have more fun at the game.  Right after I asked my questions I was even invited into fellowships to help me get started and learn the ropes.  Seldom is it that such a quick positive response comes out of a community to a new player.

I could have skipped up levels as that is something you can purchase with real money, but I would only really suggest that for a character further down the road because the world is so beautifully detailed. The areas so smoothed out after so many years of play that you won’t find glitches in quests or NPCs, all you have is a nicely developed playing experience.  I also wouldn’t recommend playing the Beorning right away, as I think you should have something to look forward running around with after you get other characters leveled up.

PVP is very different in LotRO and works a bit towards something you will want to put money into while playing. Free-To-Play players without VIP status play on the monster side of PVP doing quests and getting titles as they fight as different styles of monsters against the VIP (paying) player who plays as “the Moors” and are the free people fighting the monsters.  You don’t have to be a permanent VIP player to do these battles as the people side, you can pay that as you go with in game currency. It keeps things fun and interesting!

So how most of the Pay-To-Play works in LOtRO is by purchasing VIP status for one month, three months, six months, or even a whole year.  This VIP status opens up pretty much every aspect of the game to you, adds a couple dozen perks, give you free in-game money every month and every chapter and volume of the game are accessible to you during that time.  They seemed to understand that if they are going to charge a subscription of a normally Free-To-Play game it needed to feel like a subscription game like World of Warcraft.  The nice thing is if someone can’t afford the subscription they can still play and have a great and rewarding experience with their friends regardless if that friend is VIP or not.  It’s a smart move to maintain a player base.  You basically wind up with three tiers of player: the FTP player, the VIP but nothing else player, and the VIP and additional prestige items player.

The prestige item player will get the same pony as the normal VIP at that level but they might also buy a special steed with armor plating or a coloring they like or named after a special kingdom.  The VIP prestige player is the one that makes it so that the FTP can come in and enjoy the beauty of the game that they probably otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford.  The March 2017 edition of Wired posted findings of a study that said on FTP games 2% of players are responsible for 48% of all revenue.  That guy who has the sweet looking mount and gorgeous armor makes it so that a FTP person can play buy paying the developer’s bills.  I wish more games were built on such a model so that friends could game together regardless of their disposable income.

The subscription money hasn’t gone to just keeping the lights on at Lord of The Rings Online, they are constantly releasing new content that tells rich stories while leveling players up to 95.  Maybe one of the best draws of all is you can play them furry-footed hobbits.

A Tale Still Being Told:

Lord of The Rings Online is still going strong and just getting better and richer with time.  I am so happy it had its 10th anniversary to pull me back into its shires and castles. This isn’t just a flash in the pan game for me.  This game has true FTP, VIP, and VIP prestige style play and that means I will stick around, continue with the journey of my characters and hopefully be writing the 20th anniversary review in another decade!

The Lord of the Rings Online Review Score

(5 out of 5 stars)


Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex-First Assault Online Review

When our Editor-in-Chief asked if I wanted to play a first-person shooter called “First Assault Online” I said sure since I had a bit of time available.  Then when I downloaded the game I found out it was “Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex-First Assault Online” and I was so happy I had taken the review.  One of the first anime movies that I really got into was Ghost In The Shell and I have enjoyed watching the televisions series on Adult Swim particularly when it came to Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex.  It is well written, the animation is really well done and it had a habit of being rough on it’s characters developing their true grit.  Sometimes as a show goes along they will stray away from the core of a character’s beliefs to make it fit a storyline.  Not a problem here though, this show is always solid.  So here was my chance to play a game based off of one of my all time favorite anime shows, will Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex-First Assault Online hold up to the series?  time to find out.


First Assault:

I understand why my EIC shortened the game name since it is a pretty big mouthful so until the end I will just be calling it First Assault Online.  First things first it definitely feels like you were just dropped into a firefight in an episode of GITS.  You use actual characters from the show and futuristic talents that feel like they should belong to each of the characters that they are assigned to.  The voices are great, the locations fit and futuristic, anime is spot on, it really is a gift to fans of the show to be able to play it.  Even when I was off my game and not pulling my best KDR I was still having fun just being in the world and fighting in it.  You fight cyborgs and robots which have a gratifying mechanical breakup instead of bloodshed which feels like it belongs here.  I wasn’t able to find anything that didn’t fit the show and it’s atmosphere.


Once you get past that the game is really a straight forward FPS.  You unlock weapons and as well as attachments, you level for new talents and prizes, you try to get them with getting got.  The physics are some of the most solid of any FPS I have played, I can’t think of any instances where I thought otherwise.  It has a built-in anti-cheat program which hopefully is catching most of the cheaters and probably most importantly the best auto-balancing systems I have seen.  Maybe it is because the classes are so well balanced but I never saw a blowout game, even ones I was choking on someone else was pulling up the slack.  Not sure what algorithms it uses but I was impressed and this review probably would have been done sooner if I could have convinced myself I didn’t need another day of play when it wasn’t needed but just wanted.  This can be an addictive play.  It even seemed to detect spawn campers quick and shift spawn points.

I guess one of the only things I could ask for would be a single player campaign, just to go through so GITS stories.  That puts a wistful smile on my face when I think about the idea but as a general rule a game needs to be great at single player or great at multiplayer, it has to be a huge franchise to be both and this is a play for free with pay for more faster unlocks and experience.  When you consider that the fact that this game is so good is amazing.


Last Shot (For Now):

Time for me to get back to playing it but first a quick summary.  Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex-First Assault Online is one of the best first-person shooter games I have ever seen and is exceptionally true to its anime roots.  The game is free when it would have been a steal at $15 so you might want to buy a bit of unlocks and extra experience just to make sure this game gets to stick around.  It’s well balanced, has a great anti-cheat and it’s auto-balancing is some of the best on the market.  Okay, time to head back in game.

[easyreview title=”Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex-First Assault Online Review Score” cat1title=”Overall Score (out of 5)” cat1detail=”” cat1rating=”5″ ]


WildStar Free to Play Launch Trailer


ALISO VIEJO, Calif. (September 29, 2015) – NCSOFT® and Carbine Studios™ announced today that WildStar is now free-to-play. Today, new and returning players in North America and Europe can get a free ticket to planet Nexus and experience all of the epic WildStar content that has been released over the past year.

“Today is an important milestone in WildStar’s history and the team has been working very hard to make sure the game is better than ever,” said Mike Donatelli, product director, Carbine Studios. “We received a ton of positive feedback from our fan base through our closed beta and have worked to create a game that is fun, accessible, and engaging for all players.”

Having originally launched with a subscription model in June of 2014 to critical acclaim, WildStar was the highest-rated MMO on Metacritic for the year. The game’s free-to-play launch marks a major moment in the game’s development, improving the overall experience for both old players and new. In addition to the new business model, the game is getting its most comprehensive update yet. Titled WildStar: Reloaded, the update brings new content, enhanced game systems, special in-game events and tons of quality of life improvements. Many players have returned to the community over the last few months, reinvigorated by the game’s improvements and new, exciting content.

Alongside the free-to-play launch and game update, NCSOFT and Carbine Studios revealed a brand new game trailer from Paris-based creative studio, Fortiche Productions, that can be viewed here:

To jump into WildStar today, players will simply need to create an NCSOFT account and download the client here: https://www.wildstar-online.com/en/freetoplay/.

About WildStar®

Critically acclaimed and now free-to-play, WildStar is a sci-fi MMO of epic proportions set on the mysterious planet Nexus. Blast off to a huge and amazingly vibrant world packed with unique characters, exotic locations, thrilling challenges, and dark mysteries. Experience exhilarating action combat, deep character customization, and one of the most powerful housing systems ever seen in an MMORPG as you work alongside the citizens of Nexus to solve the primordial puzzles of the universe itself.

For more on WildStar head over to: www.wildstar-online.com

About Carbine Studios™

Carbine Studios is a software development company focused on making high-quality, and conceptually innovative Massively Multiplayer Online games.

Located in Aliso Viejo, Calif., Carbine was founded in 2005 as a division of NCSOFT Corporation by a dedicated team of game industry veterans who have contributed to watershed franchises such as World of Warcraft, EverQuest, Diablo and Fallout. The studio is hard at work on their sci-fi themed MMORPG, WildStar. For more information on Carbine Studios, please visit www.carbinestudios.com.

About NCSOFT West

NCSOFT® is the world’s premier publisher and developer of massively multiplayer online games, including the critically acclaimed Aion®Blade & Soul®Lineage®Guild Wars® and WildStar® franchises. NCSOFT West is a division of NCSOFT that holds operating responsibilities for North America, Europe, South America and Australia/New Zealand. More information can be found at www.ncsoft.com.

Magicka: Wizard Wars Review (PC)


The hottest PVP Arena game out there right now is League Of Legends and I have to confess I don’t like it that much. It is not very friendly to new players. Everyone gets wound up playing it and there is a ton of aggression thrown towards new players just learning the ropes. I like PVP but I also like it to be fun! Enter Magicka: Wizard Wars, a solid PVP arena game that has the fun of the now defunct Battlefield Heroes.

Magicka: Wizard Wars is a Spellcasting Action PvP game with the humor and the dynamic realtime spell system of Magicka. Players form teams of four and blaze their way across the battlefield, combining magical elements on the fly to create hundreds of spell combinations with wildly varying effects.

– 3 Game modes: 4-on-4 team play, 1-on-1 Duel Mode, and the brand new Soul Harvest mode that allows 4-on-4 team play with base defense and NPC battles.
– Fight intense battles – Co-op spellcasting, wielding fire and dragons as your weapons.
– Show your skills in fast-paced action, dynamically choose your spells on the fly to counter your opponents’ attacks.
– Friendly fire is in full effect, staying true to the Magicka tradition of “accidentally” killing your friends.
– 100 Robes, Staves, Skins, Weapons and your Humor of choice, 100s more to come – Be the Wizard you want to be!


Hands On:
First thing that needs to be stressed right off the bat: Magicka: Wizard Wars is a true free-to-play game with money being spent only by the impatient player – or the one who wants a vanity look for fun! In many supposedly free-to-play titles, you have to invest some money to have a competitive weapon whereas in Magicka: Wizard Wars, you have to be patient enough and play enough to unlock the higher-end items. That being said if you want a robe that looks a lot like a certain Dr. Horrible’s lab, coat you can buy it. If you want a weapon that is an axe designed to look like a guitar and has a special ability to let you tweak out a riff that will beat up the enemy with sound waves, that’s an option too. Through playing you can earn in-game currency and over time purchase most things you would want or you can spend a little real world money and look like Enchanter Tim from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The idea is to look unique and fit your personal geekdom. The item descriptions alone get you buying them.

In the game you get an imp which is near useless unless you get really creative strategy wise. It really comes down to being a vanity pet for the most part that will try to help you but you can expect it to die a horrible and quick death. That being said unlocking the Razer one and purchasing the Guy Fawkes imp that did nothing better than your other ones but leave a more interesting corpse is really a lot of fun.


The gameplay clearly has an emphasis on fun factor as well a huge combinations of spells, wards, shields, and attacks at your disposal. All game modes have a PVP focus with standard game styles such as dueling and team versus team  – though soul harvest goes for more of a League of Legends style of play. The soul harvest map is huge and full of NPCs so you can harvest their souls instead of the other player’s if you choose. Harvesting souls causes the shields and defenses of the enemy base to fail allowing base assault which is the only way to win. Fighting larger, tougher NPCs can result in multiple souls dropping so it can be advantageous to team up on a big baddie, just watch your backs for the enemy to come and PK you and take the souls for themselves. You can constantly switch up your attacks with more attacks unlocking as you go as well as more armor and weapons allowing your gameplay to constantly evolve. The replayability of the game is huge and addicting. Unlike in Ghostbusters, crossing the streams is a good thing, giving a more powerful attacks. However, watch out as if you accidentally start hitting your teammates they will die and curse your name, friendly fire is always on!


Last Call:
Magicka: Wizard Wars is a game for players who like PVP arena play but don’t like screaming, angry pre-teens griefing them the whole time. It lends itself to an ever-evolving play style filled with humor and general fun. There is a lot of “LOL” slang typed in the chats and just as many healing spells cast on fellow team members as there are attack spells on the other team. Magicka: Wizard Wars has comradery mixed with a sense of humor so lacking in most PVP arena games that it not only feels refreshing but welcoming. You can expect to see me playing regularly for a long time to come.

[easyreview title=”Magicka: Wizard Wars Review Score” cat1title=”Overall Score (out of 5)” cat1detail=”” cat1rating=”5″ ]

Neverwinter on Xbox One Review


If you read our first review of Neverwinter on the PC you read as I droned on about how Neverwinter Nights was the closest I have ever experienced to tabletop RPG in a video game. I also mentioned that Neverwinter is a great game even if it didn’t live up to the legacy of its predecessor and is built on Perfect World Entertainment’s free-to-play game model which involves quite a bit of spamming. So the real question to be asked about Neverwinter on the Xbox One is if it comes across as just a port or a fully-developed game of its own? Should Monty Python’s “Spam” still be its theme song? And, most importantly, if you are going to put money into Neverwinter should you do it on the PC or the Xbox One? Let’s find out!

Once a bustling location, Neverwinter has faced a great many disasters in the past hundred years. Rule of the city remains unclear following the unfortunate demise of the last Lord of Neverwinter and factions still battle for dominance after the all-consuming Spellplague took a high toll on the population. Even Neverwinter’s dead are beginning to rise from their graves and march upon the city they once called home.

Hands On:
Neverwinter is a MMORPG very much in the vein of Lord of the Rings Online or The Secret World in the sense that it is a free-to-play game with micro-transactions for everything from mounts and companions – even experience point boosts. Based in the fantasy world of official Dungeons & Dragons, players can find lore and characters like from the tabletop game but in an online experience.

The game is pleasantly-loaded with nostalgia for anyone who grew up playing D&D and the voice acting, graphics, and sounds are terrific – especially on the Xbox One since, unlike the PC version, the quality of your visual and audio gameplay experience isn’t based on the performance of your graphics or sound cards. Your internet connection plays a huge factor in your experience, but that is always the case with MMORPGs.


You get to play a good variety of character classes as well as implement an immense variety of customization of the character – though I think there should have been more beard options. Everyone loves a good beard – especially on a female dwarf! Your starting armor looks the same but through finding new armor and the use of armor dyes you can quickly have a look all your own. You can even get some armor dyes just by leveling up your character. Other customization options can come in the form of your choice of NPC companions and mounts.

With a few exceptions, most of the NPC companions, mounts, and really spiffy armor will cost you real life money. This is a pretty standard thing to do nowadays, it is actually the business model for most games that either fail to maintain a subscription base (like LOTRO) or realize that, fiscally, this in-game purchase system ensures continued income to help maintain updates and expanding gameplay. As a player though it requires quite a bit of consideration because you can easily outspend the price of a standalone game and expansions through these micro-transactions. Then players must ask themselves just how much the micro-transactions add to the experience of the game and, in this case, which platform to purchase them on. If you own the game on the PC platform, your characters and purchases don’t transfer over to the Xbox One version of the game. Once you select a platform, you will probably have to stick with it unless you want to start all over again from the beginning.

PC Vs. Xbox One:
The PC versus console argument is decades old now. With next-generation consoles and the use of internet connectivity in game titles, this argument is slowly becoming moot and the lines of “which is better” blurred almost to the point of non-existence. For the most part, it depends on game choices and control scheme choices with each having pros and cons. But, what about when it is the same game?

I played Neverwinter A LOT when it came out on the PC – but, often, found I was splitting my time with other MMORPGs that I was already paying for or had invested RL money in. Also, I found that the game population didn’t do much in the way of roleplaying even though the option was very available. When playing a PC game, it is easy to type emotes and in-character dialogue. There are also a whole set of keys as well as mouse options on which to build the game controls.

In contrast, there is no roleplaying with other players that is possible on the Xbox One and you are very limited on what buttons you have, causing combo actions being necessary just to access menus. Even if you did want to roleplay as your character using your headset… well let’s just say the community would probably shun you a bit. Roleplaying is simply considered more of a PC thing than a console thing.

What I found interesting is that I think I enjoyed game battles more with the Xbox One – even if it is a little more difficult and definitely requires a learning curve. Consoles have a long and popular tradition of third-person action/shooter games and once you strip out the roleplaying layer of the game and make the menus functional, Neverwinter boils down to an open world third-person actioner.


One downside is the spam announcements of who got a special item from a purchased lock box opening seems more severe the larger the screen you play on. When you play on a big screen, the letters look as big as your head and are several feet wide. You kinda get used to it but World of Warcraft players will still startle just about every time one is displayed because they are used to that being a battle warning rather than an advertisement for what could be yours!

It should be noted that, at the time of this review, I can’t compare the worth of which system the purchased items are more effective or enjoyable. I just can’t afford it right now. I plan to update this aspect at a future, more fiscally-sound time – but, I digress…

Last Call:
It really depends on what you want out of Neverwinter as to which version of the game you will like more. If you like the MMORPG style, then you should stick to the PC platform. If you like a third-person shooter/actioner experience, then the console is definitely the one for you. What is interesting is that the Xbox One version of Neverwinter doesn’t feel at all like a port, it feels like two separate games with the same storylines and quests. Personally, I will probably play the console version more because when I am at the computer I have a lot of MMORPG games for it to compete with. In contrast, I don’t have a lot of titles like Neverwinter on the XBox One. Maybe things will shift when real world money comes into play… I guess you will have to stay tuned and see!

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


World of Tanks Blitz Review (iOS)


We here at Gamingshogun.com understand that, economically-speaking, times can be tough. So, when there is a game that can be played for free – that is, truly free and not free-to-play, pay-to-win, we make sure to let our readers know. A great case in point is World of Tanks, which completely free for the PC and an absolute blast to play. You can pay a bit to enhance you experience or speed up your leveling but in the end the better player wins the match not the most expensive tank. They then translated this same idea to World of Tanks Xbox 360 Edition with the same success. Fans of these games have been chomping at the bit to get their hands on World of Warships, the next title in the saga – but first comes a pleasant surprise, World of Tanks Blitz for the iOS platform.

The graphics haven’t suffered at all in the translation to the small screen, they are crisp and clear and extremely detailed which is important as players have come to expect historical vehicle accuracy from the series. Also, the tech trees are enormous which was surprising to me as tech trees are generally scaled back much more in mobile games. There are only three nations to start with but their are so many vehicles and upgrades that you probably won’t come even near to completing them all before another nation is added.

My next expectation was very small matches, I guessed probably just 4 vs. 4 so the systems could handle them. I was very pleasantly surprised to find myself in 7 vs. 7 matches so that the excitement of multiple players hunting and strategy was still maintained. 14 players do a nice job filling up a map. which is another great point about this platform, it has all kinds of maps, many being familiar, scaled down versions of the PC and 360 maps with some of the maps even feeling brand new. Part of this might be due to different priorities in a maps detail making it look different (sand gets less detail than a building or a stack of wood) and yet if you have a strategy on the rebuilt maps it might just still work to your advantage.

If you have spare funds to spend the premium account is worth it’s money in speeding up leveling and in game currency and there are vehicles and special ammo you can buy to give you a slight edge or at least a faster level to a new class.  Hardcore players though tend to believe in earning your bones in this game so you will find both bought and earned tanks on a pretty even playing field.


The only real problem with the game is the inherent problem of the platform itself: Its controls. You have to use your right thumb to move the tank, your left thumb to move your view then whatever finger you want to hit the zoom and fire buttons. The controls are greatly simplified and adapted to touch screen technology but in the end you still find your left thumb slipping off the tank controls or bumping the wrong one. In some cases you might even find your thumb sliding up and prematurely hitting the fire button giving away your position. There are thumb attachment sticks that can be purchased and stuck to the screen but I have never found them to be particularly consistent and if you get used to one and it pops off mid match you might find yourself in a world of trouble.


Final Thoughts:
World of Tanks Blitz gives you the opportunity to play a great title on the go with most of the console or PC features intact. This is a great accomplishment that Wargaming.net should be proud of and sets a new standard for shooting games, particularly vehicle-based ones, on the iOS platform. I look forward to seeing what they add on or come up with next.

[easyreview title=”World Of Tanks Blitz Review Score” cat1title=”Overall Score (out of 5)” cat1detail=”” cat1rating=”4″ ]

Loadout – A Review (PC)


Edge of Reality has brought us a brand new, free to play, third person shooter called Loadout. What separates Loadout from other third person shooters is the custom weapons that players can design, test, and then use in the game’s arenas. Loadout’s design is completely on the side of “over the top” when it comes to its humor, gore, and weapon design. Edge of Reality went with the idea that, if it’s worth doing, it’s worth over doing and it works for Loadout.


Here’s the thing about Loadout’s story line: There isn’t one. Not a scrap of story to be found anywhere in this game, and I am fine with that. Some games can carry themselves just purely on fun gameplay, and that is exactly what Loadout does.


When you begin the game, you have to set up your first loadout. These loadouts consist of a character skin and two weapons. The characters that you can choose from are limited to one of three skins; beefy white guy, beefy black guy, or beefy white girl. The default skins offer no customization at all, unless you buy the Spacebux from Edge of Reality. I will get into that a little more later.

Loadout is really all about the weaponcrafting, and you get to carry two custom weapons in each loadout. You begin by selecting one of four chassis, either beam, missile, slug or pulse. The chassis determines how the basic gun will behave. After you have selected the basic chassis, then you are ready to add on more parts to further customize your weapon. You can change the barrel, magazine, stock, scope, ammo, and other parts to truly customize your weapon. The more you level up, the more choices you will be given. Here’s the cool thing, you pay for your upgrades with currency that you earn in game, not the purchasable Spacebux.

What I really liked about the weapon customization was how Edge of Reality would let you outfit your gun and test it prior to spending one point of currency. You can choose all the available upgrades that you want to see how they work, then hit test and are sent to a single player shooting range. You get to see the damage that your new weapon can deal on stationary and moving targets, and then decide on whether or not that configuration will work for you. It’s never final until you hit the buy button.


Since I’ve already touched on it twice, let’s get the free to play thing out of the way. Edge of Reality has done Loadout’s free to play model right, in my opinion. You can purchase Spacebux with real currency, but what Spacebux can buy are customization options for your character or experience boosts, which has no advantage during the actual gameplay. Everything that you need to customize your weapons and increase your firepower is bought with in game currency, therefore Loadout is absolutely not a pay to win game. You have the same chance of winning and killing others as someone of equal level that has spent hundreds of dollars in Spacebux, you just don’t look as good. The customization options for your characters range from absolutely silly, hardcore military style, to just hard to watch. I played against a character that choose the naked skin costume, and it was disturbing to see his pixelated man bits flopping around. I personally went with the Baseball Furies costume from The Warriors, oh yeah.

Ok, that’s four paragraphs right there on the customization of Loadout, so let’s talk about how the dang game actually plays. Currently, I could only enter the casual game modes and not the competitive ones, but there were still a few modes to choose from. There is Death Snatch (kill confirmed), Jackhammer (capture the flag), Extraction (collect the shiny bits and run to a set point), and finally Blitz (control point). These games are all set for 4 vs 4 action, or 4 vs AI if you are looking for some cooperation gameplay with your friends. I generally just looked for random games and game types, and was consistently put into full games where the action was fast and fun.

Actual gameplay is a blast and reminds me of the old Unreal 2k3 days. With only two weapons, your loadout becomes extremely important but you can also pick up other people’s guns after you have blasted them into itty bitty pieces. Jumping is a viable dodge technique, as is the actual double tap to dodge, so get used to aiming at bouncing characters. Maps are designed well, with side passages to sneak up on people. I feel that the maps are the right size most of the time, though I hated that sometimes in Blitz one team had no chance just because the control point spawned near someone that was already there.


Loadout is over the top gore and humor at it’s finest for a free to play game. Weapons will literally blow parts off of you in a shower of cartoony blood and bits. A hard enough shot that doesn’t kill you will completely damage your character. A head shot will just leave you with your brain and two eyes on eyestalks, or a chest wound can leave you running around with a large hole where your pecs used to be. If the shot does kill you, well then you are usually torn in half, or found hopping around on a bloody stump as you bleed out. Occasionally your character, if he or she is feeling especially full of it, will end his or her last breath by giving the enemy the finger before quietly passing on.


Sound is really well done to, but a little minimal when you really analyze it. There is no music during the actual gameplay, so sound effects is usually just weapon fire, explosions or heart beats when you get low on health. Voice acting is limited to just grunts, groans and yells for the characters, and announcement from the female narrator ala The Administrator from Team Fortress 2.

Final Thoughts

Loadout from Edge of Reality is how free to play game should be done. You can play the game without spending a single dollar and still be competitive and have fun, you just won’t have access to the myriad of great clothes options or taunts that the Spacebux can buy you. If you want a slick costume and really customize your character, then be prepared to shell out some real life dough. If not, then just be content with the default character. Gameplay wise, Loadout is just damn fun, it really is. I played Unreal 2k3 for hours upon hours because of how fun that game is, and Loadout feels like a spiritual successor to that title. Match-ups worked fine for me, though I do know that Edge of Reality has some issues during the first day or so of launch. Edge of Reality has said that they are working hard to fix that issue and will make it up to everyone who was affected. Look, the game is free. You loose absolutely nothing in trying it, and I really think that most of you out there will actually enjoy it. Loadout is available now through Steam.

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Neverwinter Review (PC)


Zohar Scourmont had a very long day. He had worked the murder of a Fernor commoner and arrested the kidnapper of the High Judge and helped saved her. He was weary to the bone and heading across a field on his way home. The sun was setting and the field of tall grain lit gold with the last casts of the day’s sunlight. Zohar stopped and turned to look across them, not just to take in their majesty but to take in the new sight. A pirate’s ship, sails full, was plotting a course in the air over the grain right toward him, its skeleton crew lining the rails on the deck. It would seem his dog would have to wait a bit longer for his evening meal as would he.

That describes a single day of role playing on a persistent Neverwinter Nights server my wife and I played for three years.  Those were some of the best gaming years of my life, a great server that punished leveling unless it was done by points given for roleplay by GMs. A server where the strength of your character mattered far more than your stats.  I basically worked two jobs, my second being my second life as a character in this land where anything could happen.  Then, Neverwinter Nights 2 came out – a clunky experience that promised so much but delivered so little that the game we loved was lost and players scattered to the wind – many so disheartened they turned to WoW and non-role playing servers.

When I heard about Neverwinter, I kept my ears opened and waited.  I had seen the best and worst of the series which made me hopeful and somehow dubious at the same time.  Perfect World was going to be at the helm of this endeavor, a company that had long since developed a F2P model that every successful F2P game either joined up with or emulated.  Developers like Cryptic Studios made the games but PW made them profitable.  So when I got a chance I jumped in on the beta for Neverwinter I did and I have been playing ever since.


Start an epic new adventure in the Forgotten Realms with Neverwinter, the free-to-play action MMORPG that combines fast-paced combat with over 25 years of Dungeons & Dragons lore. After a series of cataclysms nearly destroyed it, the city of Neverwinter is under siege from all sides. To keep the city and its people safe, heroes must fight through sprawling dungeons and open-world brawls with the most vicious of Faerûn’s foes. In Neverwinter, the adventure never ends. With the Foundry toolset, players may design and manage new quests and campaigns incorporated directly into the game world.


Hands On:

I had unrealistically high hopes for a Neverwinter Nights type game when I first started but, thankfully, it didn’t take me long to realize they were unrealistic.  For F2P games to be profitable they have to follow a certain model: Low number of servers, fairly on-rails quest lines, and items that are either needed or wanted to be purchased with real life money.  That is how they pay for operations, upkeep, and updated material to keep the game fresh.  The question winds up being whether or not the game is developed well enough inside those parameters to remain interesting and enjoyable.  The Perfect World model definitely allows for it so it comes down to whether the subject matter is of interest to the playing community and with Neverwinter it is pretty much a no brainer.  There is a reason the lore is so old, people love D&D. If they are given even a halfway decent experience at it they will play and between Cryptic Studios and PW they have definitely pulled it off here.

You progress through the game doing quests. At first, you have little or no choice on which ones you take but as you level up and explore the world more you find you have more options on what you do.  There are quests that you can do later or skip all together, there are dungeons you can run as groups, and there are arenas where you can PVP.  Those interested in a good storyline can find it while those interested in hack and slash fun can find that too. Also, the company store has something that just about everyone will want to own.  There are three types of currency: Zen, which is real life bought Perfect World currency. Diamonds, a premium currency bought with Zen. It also has standard in-game currency, money which would be the standard gold, silver and copper varities.  The best and quickest owned things are always bought with Zen, high value bought with diamonds, and money is the only free currency in the game and buys you what you would expect in a free to play, pay to win environment.


You can have plenty of fun roleplaying and not spending real money in the game, but finding other RP’ers might be a bit hard and you will struggle harder.  The environment is very much like WoW with micro transactions instead of subscriptions.  For the casual player, this works out very nicely as you can buy things when you want and not have to worry about a monthly bill to use it. For the player with lots of money, this means quicker advancement and more prestigious items.

Last Call:

Neverwinter is a great alternative to WoW or a great choice for those who want their D&D lore but don’t mind a lack or RP.  I will continue playing it though maybe a little wistfully for the days of Neverwinter Nights.  It is a solid game with great play and a bright future.

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KingsRoad Review (PC/Browser)

Just as they are celebrating 100,000 likes, we thought it a good time to talk about the Facebook browser launching game KingsRoad.  A dungeon crawler with surprisingly good graphics, it is definitely a game to consider.


KingsRoad sets a new standard for gaming on Facebook! Embark on a journey across the kingdom of Alderstone to reclaim your land from the monstrous creatures that threaten it.

• Engage in brutal real-time combat, explore a robust loot and skill system, and battle towering bosses – all rendered in stunning 3D graphics!
• Discover powerful new skills as a knight, archer, or wizard. Switch between classes at any time!
• Team up with friends for 3-player co-op and defeat the forces of darkness together!
• The first action-RPG that fits your schedule – giving you a truly epic experience every time you open your browser!


Hands On:

There are certain expectations someone goes into a browser game with. I try to forget those because we should just judge a game not by it’s platform but on the game itself.  That being said, when a game looks and acts much stronger than the platform it is on is known for producing, it should be recognized.  That is definitely the case with KingsRoad, which has all the sophistication and visual quality of a standalone PC video game – albeit in a Facebook browser game format.

It is a solid dungeon crawler with nods to all the famous ones from over the years, complete with crafting systems and armor modification.  It doesn’t really stand out from any of them in any particular way but it is a free browser based dungeon crawler and being able to play a Diablo like game on the go from any computer makes it stand out in its own way.  The animations of the creatures are done very well, the voice acting is excellent, and the gameplay is smooth and completely lacking in glitches.  KingsRoad is solidly built all around.


Now for the downside…  In these modern days, players have gotten used to, and accepted, free to play/pay to win as a gaming model that is here to stay.  Players decide how much a richer experience is worth to them and that is how much they invest in upping the quality of the game.  In some cases this means purchasing simply vanity items such as a special mount or pet or silly hat.  Then in other cases it means using real world money to get the best loots.  KingsRoad is definitely in this last category.  Opening chests in a dungeon crawler is a little like Christmas presents, you have waited to get to them and they often hold the best surprises and that is definitely true in KingsRoad.  Unfortunately those chests all cost gems, which can be earned VERY slowly through the game or purchased with real life money.  The chests can be as cheap as about 60 cents worth of real money or as expensive as over $10 each.  When you consider the best loots come from these and each section of dungeon has at least one of these this adds up incredibly quick.


Then there are the “buy now” pop ups that happen constantly throughout the game.  You get to a certain point and a pop up  shows up that says “Buy this great deal now for this many gems!  This is a one time offer, if you don’t buy it now you can’t later!”  These are great deals if you want to spend money but, if you don’t, you will wish you had what if offered soon enough.  Don’t worry though there will be another pop up soon to offer you something else for real world money.  Don’t have much time to play?  You can spend all your in-game gold to upgrade your smithing abilities only to find out it is going to take two and a half real world days before you can do that, unless you want to pay some real world money.  There’s a theme going here and honestly I am not against developers making money and I understand supporting a game through microtransaction funding.  There is a line where all the pop ups and real life money requests begin to detract from the game and it feels less like a game and more like an ad for a game and KingsRoad has done it more than any game I have seen.


Last Call:

If you are willing to pay plenty of money KingsRoad will be a great game to play, a standalone among browser based ones.  If you are broke this game can still be fun but you have to look past lots of ads and ignore the chests you see along the road, especially the really shiny ones because those are not for you.

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