#Featured

Shadow of Mordor – quick impressions

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Rating: 4.5/5 (2 votes cast)

+, + amazing surprise

+, +, +, + the chieftain fights simulation is just simply a leap forward in gaming, I totally didn’t expect this game to thread such brave new territory

– often i would want to do something but get stuck or the character would not react to movement

+ the stories generated in game are fascinating

+, – sometimes it looked beautiful, sometimes just okay

+, – the main story has it’s interesting twists, but also it’s ordinariness, often I didn’t want to get back to it just to play more simulation

+ sheds some interesting lights on the (to me) otherwise relatively boring mythos of the lord of the rings universe with interesting moral greys and layers of story

+, +, + shockingly memorable orcs. Even as a graphics artist with a lifetime interest in learning how to do this I am still amazed and shcoked how they managed to make the different chieftains so memorable and unique and full of character both in facial expressions and accessories.

Conclusions: 3 (on a -5 to 5 scale). Totally shocker good game, took me by complete surprise, I was expecting it to be just a tiny insignificant filler but it was like WOOOW. Lots of fun to experiment with orc control, just to mess with their inside struggles of power. I really hope future games will have more of this internal simulation, with stories forming inside the game.

PS: I haven’t played such an original and interesting Monolith game since Blood 2 (one was even more amazingly original).

Dark Souls 2 + Lost Crowns DLC – quick impressions

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Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)

+, +, + amazingly big and varied world

– initial impression of the first level was a bit world of warcraftish/less serious, but it got better with time

+ very interesting deep world and characters

+ very unique experience

– way too hard. I’d say about 4x harder than it should be (if you choose easy, those who want hardness should be given double if they want)

-, – the DLCs are even more unreasonably hard.

-, – many areas are so hard/frustrating that playing with party/other players/online is pretty much mandatory, especially in the DLCs

+ the multiplayer though I didn’t want it did also provide some unique experiences.

– many things are not well enough explained, not just in the story but also gameplay wise. For example I totally accidentally started the game again without wanting to, which locked me out of the DLCs I bought until i had to refinish the whole game

+, + overall unique memories, unique locations and an interesting world

+ sometimes very beautiful, Majula in particular, or the variety of other locations

+, – it’s great that the locations are linked, and it’s great to have fast travel, but at the same time this disconnects them a bit

+, + so very very full of secrets and mysteries

+, + quite the amazing community, online, forums, ingame

Overall: +3.5 (on a -5 to 5 scale). Amaazing one of a kind game, unique and fascinating experience. I wish it was a bit more serious and less cartoony looking sometimes, but the hugeness of the game amazed again and again and again. Too bad this great world is only given to you if you’re willing to endure a lot of wasted re-re-respawn times. I wish more people could experience it. I warmly recommend trying it out. Don’t give up until you’ve tried out at least 4 locations.

DmC: Devil May Cry – quick impressions

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Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)

 

+, +, +  at times the environments are quite fantastic. Not all levels though, some or rather dry and uninteresting, but maaan, when it shines it really shines. Breaking apart bits of interesting architecture in an empty space rearangement in abstract yet meaningful ways was the part that most impressed me, but there were also very interesting other locations and contracts, including to my surprise rather late in the game a uniquely used graphical chalk look environments for planning storytelling

– waves after waves of similar enemies

+ however this is slightly counterbalanced by the quite through/reflex thinking provoking series of key combos, even to some extent customizable. On a physical reflexive plane it at times feels quite satisfying

+, + very interesting story told in quite bold cutscenes with nice cinematic work.

-,+ punishingly tough at times even on the easiest level, though once you accept that I must admit there’s a certain elegance in the way it pushes you to play inteligently even with fast reflexes

+ pushes the cinematography for a game medium to surprising places

– annoying music with the angry voices, I mean at times it is atmospherically aggressive rock, but mostly it would have IMO been much better with just instrumentals

+ interesting cast of characters

+,- the colors of the game had good and bad moments, sometimes the stylization felt good, while at other times the over saturation filter on everything made things burn out in not so good looking ways.

+ great idea with the switching between the real and the limbo dimension, and correlations between them, how the humans perceive an event and how the demons do

Overall: 3.5 (on a -5 to 5) scale. Though not the kind of game I admire the world, being neither choice oriented or open world exploration oriented the game really shines with it’s original environments and quite interesting story. It has some quite moving dramatic moments as well as an interesting perpetual tensions between dimensions, main characters… Warmly recommending it despite the occasional finger pains from button mashing :D

PS: [Vergil’s Downfall] my recommendation refers only to the main game, the Vergil’s Downfall DLC I started with great excitement because the first location was cool and new, but then it got diluted and artificially prolonged artificially with too many filler waves of battles and the story was nowhere near as good as the main game, neither in the artwork, or in the narrative.

Killzone 3 – quick impressions

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Rating: 4.0/5 (1 vote cast)

+, + very cool symphonic  music

– too much of a military shooter sometimes

+, + awesome light direction, great use of complementary colors

+ good variety in locations and even some more stealthy mission types, some beautiful places from jungle planet to ice world to greatly realized space station and even junkyard

– very linear

+ enjoyable in in it’s shooter simplicity, always going forward, except for the occasional:

– a bit too tough battles

+, + good storytelling, very interesting characters, great twists

Conclusions: 2.5 (on a -5 to 5 scale). It’s pretty good if you are okay with first person shooters because of the interesting story, great lighting and music.

Killzone: Shadow Fall – Quick Impressions

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Rating: 4.0/5 (1 vote cast)

+, +, + very interesting propaganda and anti propaganda in the main story

+, +, + some interesting space and quiet moments, time to absorb the beauty

+ quite impressive graphics

– some locations lasted too long or didn’t change fast enough

+ tried to offer some traversal options (though it also occasionally pushes into hard fights)

– frustratingly hard at times

+ interesting original music (though sometimes too short loops)

– a bit too much of the high tech sci fi (i think some more sections like the initial forest mix would have been nice)

Conclusions: 2.5 (on a -5 to 5 scale): pretty interesting if you’re into shooters but with some brave wonderful choices in good directions such as choices, exploration or environment admiration.

God of War: Ghost of Sparta – quick impressions

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Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)

This holiday I finally got a chance to play it on the vita, here’s my quick thoughts

+ it feels like God of War 1.5, not quite as good as 2 but with some nice improvements. So quite a good game!

+++ very interesting locations/architecture/lighting/angles

+ okay story with family members, even a trip to Sparta

+ pretty interesting new moves

+ ties in well with the other games while still being independent

Conclusions: 2 [ on a -5 to 5 scale], a good game, not mindblowing but high quality through and through.

If you’re still wondering weather or not it’s worth playing it, or don’t think you will but don’t wanna miss out on some interesting locations check out this cool full movie somebody made of the playthrough:

 

Dragon Age 2 – quick impressions

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Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)

+, +, + amaazing story, shocking amount of surprisingly difficultmoral choices, makes me think of the amazing fallout 2 in this respect (though here it’s all the conversations and not object choices)

– weird long loading times between sections

+ quite interesting characters, made me even partially forget my dislike for controlling multiple characters… still don’t like it, but for what it’s worth this game did it quite good

+ it’s like mass effect, except a more interesting story with more stories and choices, and more morally difficult branches

– even having played it at the easiest level annoying number of fights and sometimes I died because of random fluctuation between very very easy and then hard boss fight

+ some of the choices were so difficult that even having finished it i keep thinking weather I took the right choice (from a moral point of view) and of course the what-if, what would have happened not just in a game but in a world like this

– the environment artwork is only so and so, there’s occasionally beautiful places with very nicely stylized statues but also some very generic and repeating feeling locations, but all is okay because of

+ great ammount of interesting moral situations, choices ranging form familial to political, of friends and values

– given the long time spent in between region loading screens I find out surprising that the graphics thare are IMO rather unimpressive, sometimes with a nice twist but not that impressive

+ a lot of attention to detail in the writing, the choices, the thoughts of the characters, the internal coherence

+, -,+ (maaajor spoiler) as I googled after finishing the game i had the impression there’s really just one ending, and a twist to it… which is a shame because by the end of the game it had managed to pull something amazing to a gaming old man like me: it had convinced me that there are actually real moral choices with consequences. Characters had actually left the game, acted against choices and big stuff like that. I would have much more preferred having a fallout 2 style narrated modular multiple endings. That would have been a chance to showcase the many individual choices I had made and improvise a story based on them for the future, because amazingly enough the game had in abundance choices and things of which it could have told about. A missed opportunity there, in my opinion. I don’t know if the budget ran out there or EA did a too obviously money greedy thing and tried to leave too many doors open for downloadable content/sequels and spinoffs. I have nothing against companies being profitable, in fact I find that important, but EA has burned a lot of good will by me by pairing awesome games with not so inspired marketing or sales attempts such as forcing you onto it’s servers, bullyingly insisting you register and such things.

+ (spoiler) surprisingly long, more than once i thought it would end, yet it continued, but not in the bad sense, but in the sense of a whole different section, years later, on a higher level of story/experience/social status/context. In many games when it says “chapter 1, chapter 2…” i just forget it and don’t care… but with this game the chapter separations actually made sense and stuck to myself because the context of the story were so very different

+ the first game I know of that manages to make a good story that is about a city, takes place in one and still manages to stay interesting all through it. That i found quite revolutionary, following the life of a city over years! The way the story kept comming back in different settings. Cool!

+ I found the game did a very elegant job of showing some charcters from the prequel, doing it with moderation, showing some, not others, binding the story and yet keeping it of it’s own. Cool!

 

Conclusions: i must admit i totally underestimated the game, i played it more as a semi chore, a “game of thrones” substitute, but the game kept on giving, i played it over months, yet every weekend I would play it a bit I was surprised it still had content, still had story, and it escalated amazingly in the end. I give it a spectacular 3.5 on a [-5 to 5 scale]. What it could’ve done a bit better for me was open world and non-party gameplay, preferably immersive first person, as well as more interesting objects that aren’t just about stats.

Dishonored + Dunwall + Witches – second impressions

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Rating: 5.0/5 (2 votes cast)

Well, i actually replayed the game in the last 2 weeks. Fully. I’m as surprised as you are. I just wanted to try it out again for a few minutes, dip into the world again as a beautiful memory, and to my surprise I found it almost as wonderful the second pass through as the first time. All the while I was tormenting myself with guilt, asking myself why i’m not playing some new game, of the many big games I haven’t yet gotten around to play, to experience new artwork, yet I was having so much enjoyment at every moment when I was near the choice Dishonored won again. So one could honestly ask… why? Here’s my answers:

  • the artwork is still beautiful
  • because of the many micro choices, paths to take and ways to solve little obstacles with either powers or different world traversals whenever I asked my mind as to what would happen next, a question which usually suffices from me re-watching a movie or re-reading a book, my mind would not give back an answer, and thus it always felt fresh. The long story, the twists and the addon content also helped in thus delightfully confusing my memory allowing me to relive a wonderful experience
  • there were actually bigger level choices to make which gave a certain freshness both to results and to styles of play
  • unlike a movie in a game I was constantly choosing my own camera angles, avoiding the familiar and thus creating a new sequence of events and just as importantly new angles, which was important because:
  • the artwork in general is so good and original that i felt i had a lot to learn and memorize by simply seeing them from a new angle and with a fresh perspective.

On second pass I wasn’t that excited about the Knife of Dunwall content, as it felt a bit more of the same (though what a beautiful same!), but with the 2nd addon Brigmore Witches content I was again impressed and delighted, the brave artwork directions, particularly the haunted mansion location as well as the gameplay tweaks in the mechanics (the high float, and the delightful Fallout-esque very tempting artifacts which were incredibly powerful but with a huge down side too).

Overall I still warmly recommending this game for it’s original artwork, interesting story and most importantly a very original and interesting world universe setting.

The Stanley Parable – quick impressions

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Rating: 4.5/5 (2 votes cast)

The Stanley Parable Cover Image

 

This short game was quite a surprise for me especially after trying out a few promising indie games lately and being slightly disappointed by the lack of resources that sometimes accompany these games. Indie and experimental games have many times quite original ideas that get me all excited and curious and then unfortunately loose many points because of a not so appealing implementation.

However this game’s main gimmick is that it focuses completely on the story, narration and player choices rather than on usual game play. And a simple 3D engine is that that it needed to put you in the right mood! What this game does really well is offering an interesting and especially funny story to the player.

So here’s my experience: it took about 1h30 to go through the whole game (and the demo contains another ~1h of fun).

++ awesome narration, great deep narrator voice and very funny witty lines

++ awesome mind tricks and many choices along the path

++ has a very original game demo!

+ good level design, an abundance of nice little touches

– shorter than expected

– choices are independent so it boils down to different linear game branches; there’s a bit of backtracking involved to make sure you didn’t miss a path. But the originality of the events is totally worth it.

All in all, I really recommend playing it! And if you still need convincing: TRY THE DEMO! Either from Steam or from their official site: http://www.stanleyparable.com/. It’s free, short and sweet and gives you just the right feeling of the game without any spoilers of the story. I recommend playing it even if you plan to get the game anyway, it’s so original!

 

Mafia 2 – quick impressions

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Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)

+ superb story

+ amazing art direction, the lights in the city, the location, the little touches in the houses, all mindblowingly awesome

+ surprisingly deep and long

+ unexpected twists

– very linear, no choices or even too much to do in town, no sidequests

+ good music

+ did I mention great and gripping story?!?

+ and even better locations !??

 

This game quite took me by surprise not just with the interesting story but especially with the amazing art direction, the environments are so superbly lit and the decorations inside and outside the buildings tell a story of their own. Superb environment.

Gta 4: Balad of Gay Tony, Lost and Damned – quick impressions

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Rating: 5.0/5 (2 votes cast)

Well, I can finally say I’ve actually (fully) finished another Gta other than Vice City <smug>.

TBoGT:

+ quite interesting characters

+ everything is over the top

+ (i think) new radios and stuff

+ interesting story

– due to the linear story sometimes frustrating re-repetition of elements to move on instead of branches or alternative solutions

+ particularly interesting characters. I had so much fun at every encounter and dialogue with Yusuf

+ superb intersections with the main story and other addon

+ superb story intersections with characters from the main story and common events


L&D:

– I wasn’t so much into the story

+ interesting perspective

– a bit more rought around the edges than TBoGT

+ an interesting perspective

+ I was particularly moved at the end as I realized something Rockstar games have been doing with pretty much each and every one of their games, there’s always some interesting comments that make you think in the direction of freedom, and I realized in their way they are fighters for individual freedom and making people aware of the liberties lost through state power.

Dead Island Riptide – Impressions

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Rating: 5.0/5 (2 votes cast)

+,+,+ AAAAAMmaazing level design, good variety with beautiful scenery, swamp, town.

+, +  the sights and views are sometimes simply breathtaking!

-, + the interior levels are not so mindblowing as the outside ones, however some of them did get some special love with objects placed in ways that told stories

+ very interesting special touches. For example the body of a dead sniper revealed to me by one still reaching zombie

+ More Dead Island, which is always a good thing

– the encountered characters on the island didn’t feel quite as diverse and interesting as in the original, though it might be just fatiegue/me expecting too much/not taken by surprise

+ however they were still damn interesting and diverse. Besides your normal people in trouble a drug junkie, a robber and an old man needing pills with a tragic end come to mind

+ again the sidequests are more interesting than the main story

– there was no particular point where I reeeeeeeeally felt it was all up to me to figure it out/hard very optional satysfying puzzle with hard to reach places. Would have been nice. Also would have been nice to move more world objects around

-, – the same old respawning immersion breaker, a lot of zombies and items just respawn, canceling your impact on the world. Too many compromises were made for the netwwork/multiplayer play, in my opinion, though I’m sure those who play it like that might enjoy it, I just would have liked in the single player version for there to be no monster or item respawns

-, -, + There are the occasional location fights, which as a game mechanism I found annoying/repeating/artificial, but I must admit at first they were also a bit interesting, well, not so much, but they did have an interesting idea, that of the baricades and increasing protection elements which would have been nice, if it hadn’t been so constrained

– some really big/annoying artificial monsters in these special protection fights, with deaths not just from you dying, but also from one of the many other characters dying. Also it was just unrealistic hacking with a machette in all directions among crowd of foes and friends and not hurting the friends. I consider this another failure, a sacrifice on the altar of multiplayer/game cliches of “a standoff”

-, – It’s really upsetting how pushy games are getting into one’s privacy. This game EVERY single time I started it wanted to log into my facebook account, every time i canceled, at least it allowed me to, but i consider this very rude and just lowly. I mean it’s great that they have it as a feature for those who want it, but once at the start and maybe an option in the menus would have been more than enough

+ played it on the PS3, while the previous game I had played on a pretty strong PC so I was expecting some significant visual cuts but instead everything was so very beautiful that I thought the game looked much better than the previous. I would even go as far as to say the game was more beautiful than Farcry 3, which is a BIG deal, not just because of the great engine but especially because of the high density of jsut beautiful tropical island stuff to see. Just amazing!

– sometimes there were tiny stop moments as  the engine caught it’s breath, which were at first a bit annoying but nothing I couldn’t get over. More annoying was a cool weapon which made the camera shake so much it was dizzying. Oh, and there were also the occasional textures being loaded, but they were worth it because it was beautiful and fast

+ just amazingly beautiful places to see, great locations, just touching on the beauty element a lot

+ pretty nice music and a lot of it!

 

Overall: +3 (on a -5 to 5 scale). Great game, I would say just as great as the original. I’m not saying it was much better because it wasn’t so shocking/surprising and I would have liked more random characters to meet and more dialogues (the main character should have spoken instead of oneworder “Yeah” for accepting quests, but in other ways it felt big and very beautiful. Great great fun! Some really reeeally beautiful places to see.

Dishonored: The Brigmore Witches – quick impressions

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Rating: 5.0/5 (2 votes cast)

+ more cool Dishonored

++ I thought it was much more interesting and satisfying than the first addon

+ some very interesting and original artwork in the witches mansion

+ interesting ideas such as favors

+ interesting story, completion of Daud’s story. Great to see from the other angle.

+ nice choices such as optional solutions (liked the final painting one and the infested villa one too)

+ I dind’t expect it but Daud is much more interesting of a character than I thought

+ quite cool original artwork, mostly in the cool Dishonored style but especially in the witches mansion where they mix it up very nicely giving variety and originality

Overall: +3 Even just as more Dishonored it would have been good but this was more of the best of Dishonored.

Trine 2

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Rating: 5.0/5 (2 votes cast)

Even if you haven’t played Trine, Trine 2 is even more worth recommending as an amazingly beautiful world to explore with great atmosphere. It’s even more fun if you’ve got a friend to play it with. I’ve been playing it with my wife for a while now and it’s been amazing fun each time. The visuals are often simply breathtaking and the teamwork gameplay ideas and puzzles are quite brilliant.

Patrician 4, Patrician 3 – quick impressions

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Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)

A fantastic game of medieval trade simulation, with a living economy responding to your trade actions, and surprisingly subtle events in the game world ranging from pirates to local politics and marriages. Very interesting stuff. Here’s a taste of somebody talking about their playing:

In fact I played even more of the previous game, Patrician 3, and even there, running on an old laptop I was amazed at how deep the game world was.

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