DOOM Review & Gameplay - Fusing Old and New

By
in Games
Published May 15, 2016 at 12:00 pm

Doom is one of PC gaming’s most celebrated titles. A flagship title and pioneer of the FPS genre, Doom established first-person shooters as one of the most prolific genres in gaming. Despite this, the franchise is almost 23 years old -- and that age bears with it a need to update. A whole generation of gamers weren’t even born when the first and second games were released (1993 and 1994). The third title was fairly well-received, but didn’t seem to have the same impact and staying power as its older brothers. Now, eleven years after the eponymous film, the fourth installment has been launched, simply named “DOOM” (caps optional). This is effectively Doom 4.

Doom carries a lot of stature with its name, but it’s being launched into crowded waters. Id Software has always put an emphasis on singleplayer when it comes to the Doom titles; the focus on multiplayer was left to their Quake titles. If it was Doom that made FPS games popular, it was Quake that made competitive gaming and online twitch play popular. The most popular FPS games around today are vastly different than the twitch shooters of old. Like classic twitch shooters, games like Call of Duty still place a heavy emphasis on mobility, speed, and reflexes; unlike the older games, however, games like CoD put more emphasis on what happens in-between games. Building a loadout/class and unlocking weapons plays significantly into how progression and staying power are managed. Regenerating health means encounters with other players are more likely to be fair, and the wondrous world of pickups has been all but abandoned.

Atlas Reactor is a “turn-based team tactics game” developed by Trion Worlds and currently in open alpha, although that will be replaced by a closed beta on April 14th. Small teams of “freelancers” compete to kill each other in simultaneous turn-based combat, for reasons that aren’t entirely clear (and don’t matter).

The words “fast-paced” get tossed around a lot in Atlas Reactor marketing materials, and it’s an accurate description. The tutorial mission implies a Frozen Synapse-esque game of turn-based strategy and careful planning, and the solo gameplay confirms that initial impression with leisurely minute-long planning phases. Competitive gameplay is much faster, however—decisions must be made in a matter of seconds, and things quickly become hectic. “Turn-based” and “fast-paced” aren’t often said in the same sentence, but it turns out they go pretty well together. The worst part of a turn-based game is waiting for the opponent’s turn to end; Monopoly would be a lot better if everyone had to complete their turns within five seconds. Also if families didn't play it together, but that's another story.

 

The games industry sometimes churns titles in a way that feels excessively incremental – an attachment to counting and ever-lengthier sub-titles. It wouldn’t be time for a major release if it weren’t a sequel, and today’s sequel has built a brand upon challenging player skill. Dark Souls returns with its third game, which has now appended a third Roman numeral to its suffix. In DS3, the planet is dying and the we're one of the many who have been resurrected to save it – and die trying. Several times.

Our Dark Souls III review & gameplay video looks into the dark, medieval-fantasy world and definitively analyzes mechanics, PC controls, graphics, and replayability.

Fallout 4: Automatron - Review & Gameplay Video

By
in Games
Published March 28, 2016 at 8:00 am

Fallout 4’s first DLC – Automatron – was released last week for $10. In it, the player has to stop “The Mechanist,” an evil villain creating robots that are terrorizing the Commonwealth. More significantly, Automatron adds the ability to create and customize robots.

Today, we're reviewing that DLC. Fallout 4: Automatron marks Bethesda's ambitious expansion efforts with its best-selling title, and we've got story and gameplay analysis below.

The Witness is the second game from Braid developer Jonathan Blow, this time acting as the head of small indie team Thekla, Inc. Development began soon after Braid’s 2008 release, and is still continuing now, if the frequent Steam updates are any indication. It is, like Braid, a puzzle game depositing the player on a mysterious island dotted with strange ruins without any explanation of who they are or what is happening.

Helldivers. I'll sum the story in a sentence: You are a “Helldiver” whose only mission is “spreading democracy” from Super Earth to the Cyborgs, Bugs, and Illuminates by landing on various planets. Each intergalactic democratic mission consists of two or three objectives – such as activating SAM Sites or carrying briefcases across the map – and then getting the hell out of there, all while battling aforesaid enemies of democracy. Truth be told, if you’re playing Helldivers, you’re not in it for the story; you’re in it for the pure arcade carnage it so gleefully relishes in providing.

Living up to the rolling hype-ball generated by Fallout 4 seems nearly impossible. After reminiscing about Fallout 3 for years, living through false rumors, and the non-stop recent postings pertaining to Bethesda’s latest game, expectations are at an all-time high.

Fallout 4 is the much-anticipated continuation of the Fallout series. The first-person shooter, role-playing game is based in a futuristic world similar to our own, but diverging on a timeline wrought with nuclear war.

The newest game in the series is set in Commonwealth of Massachusetts -- Boston, specifically. Fallout 4 has been in development since the release of Fallout 3, a late 2008 launch, and uses the same engine as Skyrim. The basic storyline (note: this only covers the very beginning and initial storyline setup, nothing more) behind Fallout 4 is that a family is cryogenically frozen in Vault 111, after getting in just as the nuclear bombs go off. We’re then awoken, and see our child being taken by two unknown NPCs who’ve just killed our significant other. After waking up again, we discover that we’re the only one left alive in Vault 111. So begins the game, setting forth on a journey to find a child.

Now that the background is established, let’s cover some of the features Bethesda did well on: settlement building, FPS mechanics, weapon and armor modding, and game atmosphere. We’ll later visit subpar performance for average graphics and irritating bugs.

Kingdom Game Review - Capitalism in the Feudal Age

By
in Games
Published October 21, 2015 at 9:00 am

Kingdom is a 2013 flash game by developer Noio, greatly expanded and brought to PC/Mac/iOS/Android with the help of fellow developer Licorice. As we noted back in our August preview, despite being an indie game, Kingdom was, for once, not funded by Kickstarter --surprise! Let's see if the retail release keeps that overly-addictive-flash-game charm.

In the beginning, there is a King (or Queen) and a pile of money. Such is the way of life. The "tutorial" is short and sweet: ten coins are enough to light a campfire, build two walls, and hire/equip a builder and an archer--after that, there's not much else to learn. Coins are the only resource in the game, and are used to create buildings, upgrade the settlement, hire workers, and buy tools. At night, mischevious green creatures scurry in to tear-down buildings and run away with tools (or brutally devour innocent townsfolk, as the game progresses). If one snatches the crown, that's it--time to start a new kingdom. This is a permadeath game.

Epistory - Typing Chronicles is an “atmospheric action/adventure game” from developer Fishing Cactus, available on Steam Early Access since September 30th. The game mechanics focus on two of my favorite things: typing long words as fast as possible and riding a giant fox. What more do you really need?

The basic premise of Epistory is that you’re a girl who’s lost her memory, and—again—you’re riding a giant fox. The forest is in danger, and it's the player's job to clean house by ridding of various patches of bramble and giant snakes. That was about as far as the narrative got in the time that I played, and there was no indication that it would get more elaborate than that, but possibilities abound in a title so early in development. Additional “chapters” of the game will be released over the course of its time in early access, leaving plenty of room for expansion through its 1Q16 release target.

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