King Beetle Blog

Monday, December 1, 2008

Game Review - Mirror's Edge

Well, girls and boys, time for another game review. This time, taking a look at the heavily parkour-inspired game Mirror's Edge, and how it stays a step ahead! Apologies for the terrible pun.

Platform: Xbox 360, PS3, PC

Taking a leap ahead of the race to give out great games (again, apologies for the pun), Mirror's Edge strays away from the focus of gunplay and warfare, while still staying action-packed. Admittedly, the trailer given here does not do the game enough justice with the amount of mobility you have in the vibrant, urban world in this game. The game crosses the borderline of movement that you can perform in most games, and I personally adore this focus. Too many times have I been irritated by not being able to scale a waist-high wall in most games.

Anyways, let's get to the point, and start off this review by looking at the storyline. You take the role of Faith, one of the city's many Runners; a group who devotes themselves as the only way of free communication in these days as most phone lines or such are monitored. When news of murder of one of the canditates for mayor of the city catches Faith's attention, she quickly rushes off to check it out. Turns out, a certain female cop was framed for the murder, being Faith's sister, Kate, whom she hasn't spoken to in years. The story develops as Faith makes her way about the city, uncovering the truth behind the murder, and why her sister had been chosen to be framed. It proves to be quite the immersive story, and leaves no questionable gaps once it's all uncovered, so, no gripes from me on this bit.

For games these days, gameplay is a big focus, and Mirror's Edge takes a unique turn to most games that you might see. The game manages to captivate you, making you feel like you're right in the game, by placing you in first-person perspective, which is quite unusual for a game with this type of gameplay, but Mirror's Edge pulled this off flawlessly. Nothing stands in your way as Runners are trained to move where they want, taking strong example from the unique ways of Parkour, the art of moving from place to place as quickly and effectively as possible, using the environment to your advantage, instead of letting it impede you. Pipes become ladders, boxes become springboards, and walls become yet another surface to run and jump off of.

These skills are entirely simple to use, even, as most of the controls focus with the shoulder-buttons on the console controllers, mainly an 'up' action button (jumping, scaling, climbing), and a 'down' action button (sliding, dropping, rolling). After playing through for just a moment, the controls become almost natural, and feel smooth and successive. Although, with all this ability of movement, the player rarely gets lost, as your 'Runner's Vision' helps by highlighting objects that help you reach your goal in red, giving you enough of a hint as to where to go. If the player still finds himself clueless as to where to go, by pressing a button, the camera looks in the direction of the next place to go, letting the player get an idea where to head next. Some people may say this makes the game much too easy, but in reality, it helps greatly. Even then, if you don't like it you can turn off Runner's Vision in the options, and is disabled automatically in the Hard difficulty.

Although, there are more dangers to Faith than simply the environment, as cops, the FBI, and sometimes even S.W.A.T. teams are sent to stop you. Luckilly the game isn't focused around gunplay, as you're not exactly prepared for shoot-outs. Your best bet is to isolate them and pick them off one by one, using melee to knock a guy with either normal melee or wickedly-animated take-downs, triggered by timing your button press. Although you can pick up and use any gun you may come accross by taking down the authorities, it's best to just use it up and throw it away, as it restricts your moves and slows you down a great deal.

The presentation is one of the places the game excels most, standing out from other games with its great visuals and sounds. The city shows a unique art style, mostly filled with white or grey, with bright colors filling areas to give everything a vibrant air to it. Sounds also play an important part, as the common hustle-and-bustle atmosphere of the city are quite evident, just as much as Faith's heavy breathing as you sprint across rooftops and through hallways. Everything is designed as realistic as possible; the subways, rooftops, malls, and corporate offices looking just how they should, and help contribute to the great atmosphere.

As for replayability, the game's a little on the short side, but even then you can try again on a different difficulty, and there's the speed run option, along with plenty of time trial courses. So, it gives a good amount of options once you're done the main story mode.

Overall, I'd suggest renting it at first, to see if you like it, but if you're already plenty interested, go ahead and buy it. In my opinion, I'd wait till it's about 40-50$, but then I'd be a hypocrite for wanting to buy it now.

Graphics: 9.0

Sound: 9.5

Story: 8.0

Gameplay: 9.5

Overall: 9.1

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Wow, this holiday was different than usual.

Well, at least on my end it did. Even if you don't go trick-or-treating, being too old for it, normally you'd get candy from whatever, like the leftovers that weren't given out. But it's sort of annoying when your parents hide it from you for some damn reason or another. "We're saving it for next halloween." they say. Sure, if not for the damn candies EXPIRING by then.

ANYWAYS, enough of me complaining about not hyping myself up with mounds of sugar. Onto what I did instead, for halloween.

It was pretty laid back, I gotta say. I went home with a friend, and he watched me play Fallout 3 for a long while, when another friend came over later. Continued watching for a while, then I showed them FarCry 2, which they kept saying that it makes the other games look like complete failures that shouldn't even get acknowledged. I gotta agree with them, though. It's an amazing game, and there's no more genetic powers or crap like that. FarCry 2 is completely realistic, and completely different from the original series. It's even made by a different company! (FarCry series was made by Crytek, who moved onto bigger projects like Crysis, with FarCry 2 made by Ubisoft.)

Though enough of my rant.. we played games till about... hmm, midnight, where we then decided to walk to the local convenience store. So we do so, acting like idiots along the way, and grabbed a few energy drinks at the store as they were closing. We then walked around the neighbourhood acting like idiots again (and I gotta say, it's pretty deserted that late at night, even on Taunton and Brock, there's barely any cars), till about 3 am, where we walked back home.

We then played Rock Band at a volume reserved for concerts for a few hours, till about 5 am, where we then went back upstairs, and watched me play more Fallout 3. My friend went to bed an hour or so later, and the other fell asleep on the couch. I ended heading to bed at about 6:30 am.

However, I didn't get to sleep long, as I found my friends waking me up at 10 am. It was.. pretty weird. They were looming over me, nudging me to get up. But, they woke me up for a pretty weird reason.
"Chris, get up, we need a singer."
"We need a singer for Rock Band, now get up."
"Ffff.. alright, I guess.."
So I get up, walk to the basement, and fall asleep on one of the chairs for about 10 minutes, then grabbed the microphone and sang, as asked. THEN we went and got breakfast.

Not the type of Halloween I expected to have, but it was fun nonetheless. I still wish I had some candy, though..

Your Post-Apocalyptic Wonderland

Well, we all know there's nothing like a stroll through one Washington D.C., checking out all the historic monuments and museums, but then again, there's REALLY nothing like taking a stroll through what's left of it in Fallout 3. Sure, there's still the historic landmarks and monuments, but they're either missing half of the structure, or it's turned into a fortified base for either Super Mutants or Raiders.

Lately I've found myself hooked on this game, probably for numerous reasons. One of them being it's probably the first 3D RPG I've played, or the first I've played in a while. Last one I remember playing was Golden Sun 2: The Lost Age on the Game Boy Advance. But then, it could be because it's a mix of a multitude of genres. It's a shooter, RPG, FPS, or third-person shooter, even bringing back the roots of Oblivion and bringing in Melee attacks.

Or, because it's just so damn fun­. watching your character blow another guy's head off in slow-mo has never been so much fun to watch, untill Fallout 3, where, sure you can still have fun shooting stuff real-time, but then you can just pause the fight with V.A.T.S. (Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System), and targets an enemy, even specific parts like his head or arm, and watch your character deal some real damage, in a cinematic-style sequence.

Though another thing that appeals to me with the game is the interesting mix of the retro-futuristic style. Sure, you get laser rifles, and there's advanced robots going around, but one look at the old, ripped-up posters, the objects around the place, gives a sense of being in the 50's-60's, especially turning on your radio and being greeted with 50's era oldies music. Of course, turning on your radio takes away the whole corrupt, wasteland-ish appeal and brings in an amusing, fun feeling to your gameplay, even while in battle.

This setting, I gotta say, reminds me a LOT of Bioshock, how even though you get plasmids that let you conjure fire with the snap of your fingers, release a bolt of lightning from your hand, and let forth a swarm of killer bees hatched from the veins of your arms (making you sort of like a freakin' stem cell Harry Potter), the game kept a great emphasis on its early-60's era setting. Of course, these games differ in multiple aspects, but there's a few things between them that you could find that relate between the two.

The game's also got its fair share of enemies, ranging from Raiders, who are sort of like unregretting wasteland scavengers, Super Mutants, which are huge, yellow-green irate and also barbarian-ish guys, some defect robots, some mutated animals, like giant scorpions, mole rats, cockroaches, and bears who seem to be twice as aggresive, and missing half its fur. Another enemy that's interesting is the Feral Ghouls, which are just mutated, crazed humans who look like corpses, but it's not them that's interesting, it's the normal Ghouls. Basically, these are humans whose appearance and cell structure were changed from the radiation, but still retain their minds and sanity. I mean, sure they look like crap, looking like a live, talking zombie, but they're nice folk, such as long as you don't get on their bad side.

If you're a fan of RPG's, shooters, or at least a fan of Oblivion, I'd suggest picking up this game. It's worth more than the 60$ it's priced for. (70$ for the special edition version, which is what I got.)

Oh, and even though I got the PC version, I'm still getting the achievements for my Xbox Live account that I'd normally get if I got the 360 version instead, thanks to Game For Windows Live, which is basically Xbox Live on your PC. So far I've only seen this feature on a few games, like the Halo PC-version games, Lost Planet, Fallout 3, and Gears of War

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Hahaha silly me, I wasted my time and money.

So, a few great games came out recently that I've been looking forward to for quite a while. One of them being FarCry 2, and the other, Fallout 3. So of course, I would be the type to go buy both. So, on Saturday, I ended up buying FarCry 2 off of Steam, and I was very satisfied with the game, which incidently, I'm still not finished.

However, I had the "smart" idea of also heading off to BlockBuster and renting a copy of Lost Planet: Extreme Condition, Colonies Edition, even though I just BOUGHT a game, and added with the fact that Fallout 3 was to come out only three days later.

Now, this wouldn't have been a problem if FarCry 2 was a short game, then I could have just beat it, then beat Lost Planet on time to pick up Fallout 3 and start playing that. But this wasn't the case, since FarCry 2 turned out to be not only a really good game, but also ridiculously long, seeing as I've been playing for 23 hours overall and I'm only 54% done.

So, now I have both an unfinished, great FPS, AND a shooter/RPG that's supposed to have over 300 hours of gameplay, and an xbox game which I still havn't played enough to get far in (I did however get quite far in the game in the normal version, though I never beat it).

So, I'll probably end up keep playing FarCry 2, and Fallout 3, and not touch the rental game till its return date.

Well, that's 8$ wasted for ya.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Game Review - Dead Space

Throughout my days as a gamer, I've there's an abundant amount of recent sci-fi/horror shooter games out there, but the majority seem to have more use when you use them to level that short table leg than as actual games.

There -IS- a few games that stand out, however, such as Doom 3, but the most recent one I've come across is the multi-platform (Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PC) game by EA Games, Dead Space.

You take the role of Isaac, a ship engineer sent with a small crew sent out to investigate the lack of communication from the U.S.G. Ishimura, the largest planet cracker built, which in essence is a gigantic spaceship that pulls out gargantuan chunks of a planet, and collects the resources from that chunk. However, it seems it's more than a mechanical problem as the player finds the ship littered with the mutilated corpses of what used to be the crew, along with something not entirely human.

For a games like this, one would have expected it to be yet another first-person shooter, but instead, it stands out as one of the greater third-person shooters, like the widely-known game, Gears of War. But, as opposed to Gears, aiming your gun at the enemy's head or body isn't the best way to take out the mutated, hellish creatures, the crew of the Ishimura named 'Necromorphs', due to the fact the majority of the monsters are created by a certain type of creature taking the dead corpses of the crew and re-forming them into other necromorphs.

Instead, the most effective way to dispose of the necromorphs is to cut their limbs off with whatever gun you have. Whereas taking one out uses about 15 or so shots from your plasma cutter, a few shots to sever their legs, then two more for an arm is enough to kill the basic monsters. It takes a bit of getting used to, but once you un-learn the headshot, you be making as many creature corpses as those of the planet cracker's crew.

The arsenal given may be small, being about seven very differing guns, but their effect is oh-so satisfying. They range from your first tool- turned-weapon, the plasma cutter, which fires a quick and strong line- like shot, which can be shot as a horizontal shot, or a vertical one, to the shotgun-like force gun, which fires a powerful cone-shaped blast of air with high damage and high knock-back, to the ripper, which is basically a gun that shoots a floating, remote-controlled circular saw blade.

The game also features a few weapons we all know and love, such as the flamethrower, and the pulse rifle, whose 360 degree bullet sweep secondary fire is quite devastating. My favorite, however, is the line gun, which fires a thin, but very wide laser, able to cut through multiple enemies in a hallway.

The story is quite developped for a game like this, involving religion, law, and betrayal. You don't have to pay attention to the story to have fun, but it helps understand what happened before and during your stay on the Ishimura.

The gameplay proves to be always-pleasing, featuring multiple abilities, such as zero-gravity areas, where you can jump from wall to wall, air-less areas, the object-moving kinesis ability, and the stasis ability, which freezes you enemies in a slow-motion-like state. Also features including vending-machine stores for supplies, ammo, weapons, and upgraded suits, and automated work benches where you can upgrade your health, abilities, and of course, weapons, by using objects called power nodes that you find throughout the complex spaceship.

The game not only excels in gameplay, but also in sound and graphics, with clear, realistic sounds, extremely detailed character models, and near-perfect lighting. Even with all the great visuals, the game doesn't seem to lag at any point in the console version.

With plenty of things to try out, things to upgrade, and of course achievements on the 360 version (such as the One Gun achievement, which requires you to go through the entire game with only your plasma cutter), the game proves to have plenty of replay value. I would suggest this game to anyone a fan of sci-fi or, shooter games. A definite buy, or rent if you're uncertain.

Graphics: 9.6

Sound: 9.0

Story: 8.8

Gameplay: 9.5

Overall: 9.4

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Iron Maiden fanboy? Pretty much.

A while ago, after playing Run To The Hills by Iron Maiden one too many times on Rock Band, I decided to listen to a few of Iron Maiden's other hit songs, such as The Number Of The Beast, and The Trooper, and to say I didn't like them would be a lie. It's been a while since I've found a decent metal band (just metal, not HEAVY metal), and I havn't heard anything like the oldschool, brilliant band that is Iron Maiden.

I soon found myself buying two albums from them off of iTunes, being Number Of The Beast, and Iron Maiden, the self-named album. Both of which were remastered versions. It wasn't too long after that I found out my sister's boyfriend was in fact a big Iron Maiden fan as well, and not only gave me an Iron Maiden t-shirt with the artwork of their album, Brave New World, printed on it, but also copied his Iron Maiden CD collection, which included Brave New World, Powerslave, Piece Of Mind, Fear Of The Dark, A Matter Of Life Or Death (my favorite so far), Dance Of Death, and No Prayer For The Dying.


So I've found myself listening to them constantly, only periodically moving to a song made from a different band, but I think with the selection of songs I've recieved at once, it may be a while till I get bored of them. It's just too bad none of their songs were included in Rock Band 2, except for the one you can download from the song store, being Number Of The Beast.

And, with today's crap-tacular bands, I don't think there will ever be another band like theirs. But for now, run to the hills, and run for your lives.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Lottery? For me?

No, not really. But it'd be nice to win the lottery at one point, even if I'm not the type to go out and buy tickets for the event, since I have little luck and barely win contests like that.

But let's pretend I did.

Knowing me, I'd probably go out and buy a crapload of gaming stuff, the obvious result with me. Something like all the best parts for a PC computer, along with an HDTV and surround sound. Either that, or I'd actually do the smart thing, depending on the sum of money I'd recieve, possibly putting about half of the winnings into a bank account to let interest increase it over time. I'd probably use the rest to get myself an apartment, condo, or possibly even a small house.

I've never really been inclined to learn how to drive, but I suppose I could try and give it a shot, just to actually have a car. Though, knowing me, I'd probably get a motorcycle instead, if I just wanted something to go places.

And hey, who knows, I'd probably invite a friend to come live with me, and even pay the rent for the both of us, if I end up just getting an apartment. It's all a matter of location, and the amount of money that I'd get from winning the lottery. Who knows what amount of stuff I'd be able to get with about 30 million $. It'd probably have me and my kids set for life.

Too bad I've only got 30.24$ to spend instead.