I promised poor Donna that I would write a post umpteen days ago about Botanicula; the truth is, I haven’t finished the game yet. I started it when I was visiting family – and things got busy. My grandfather was ill. So first it was I-has-a-sad (he’s much better, don’t worry) and then it was I-has-a-new-job and then it was – honestly I am just a horrible person and I have no excuses.
So here’s a review for an entirely different game!
Most of Lollipop Chainsaw was lost on me. By “most”, I mean boobs. I am unfortunately straight as a plank, and could not appreciate the eye-candy laid out (heh. heh.) before me. It was designed by the flashy exuberant sexy-obsessed Suda51 (Goichi Suda), of Shadows of the Damned and No More Heroes fame, and James Gunn (PG Porn), and was originally written in Japanese – as an English-speaking straight girl, I am entirely not the audience for this game.
Here are the things that didn’t get lost in translation:
1) The zombies actually talk. OMG! And everything they say is amusing. Congratulations to all concerned: translators and scriptwriters both.
2) Juliet is such a sweetheart. And her voice actress is amazing. Really spot-on.
3) Zombie concepts were so good! I loved the fact that different bosses got different levels based around different musical styles.
4) The music for this game includes The Human League, which, given my obsession with New Wave, means the game gets one billion bonus points. Also, Jimmy Urine is involved, and don’t you even start dissing MSI. The first guy I ever fell in love with introduced me to them – I will always be a fan.
The sentient A.I. I live with – slash my other 1/2 – reports that the fighting system is complex enough to warrant replay in the harder difficulties. (I suspect this translates from straight man into “SO MANY BIKINIS,” but I digress.)
Plus, you get to kick righteous ass with a sparkly chainsaw. Alas that you can’t choose what flavour of kawaii decorates your gore in the US version, but I thought the pink hearts were a nice touch.
I thought the story was a little short, and the graphics weren’t really up to par. Seriously, loves, you can do better; I know you can, because I played Shadows of the Damned a few months back. Sentient A.I. defended the length of the storyline (“BIKINIS”), and the graphics were playable (unlike the E3 gameplay preview for Dishonoured, wtf, welcome to 2004) – so I’m going to give it a 7/10 for people uninterested in boob physics, and an 8.5/10 for those who get the upskirt trophy without knowing there is one.
~ Alice M.
Loc is a 3d puzzle game from Birnam wood games released earlier this month, this is the studios first game.
The games plot is really simple to understand; Humanity has caused so much damage to the earth that the last queen of the faeries has taken you prisoner and plans to keep you trapped in her realm as punishment for man kinds crime (Lucky you) ; In order to escape you must solve ‘Loc’ puzzles in order to make your way through the queens desolate realm and find your way out.
The game play is a bit more complex; using your mouse you need to drag a series of tiles across a face of a cube to create a path between the start and end tiles. As you progress the game’s difficulty will increase, adding tiles that you must use in order to continue; it gets even harder when you have to start building the path across more than one of the cubes faces, whilst making sure that your using the right tiles to create a working path. There is also a list of achievements that you can earn if you complete the level under certain conditions which is a nice little addition.
Overall Loc is a wonderful game,The art style is beautiful , the atmospheric music helps the player become more immersed in this intriguing setting that birnam wood games created. But why not try it out yourself, the game is available from their studios website Here for just over £3 ($5) and if your completely broke they even have a free demo.
“How long until the helicopter gets here?”
“Oh… about two waves of SWAT guys, I guess?”
That little exchange right at the beginning of Saints Row: The Third gives you an example of the tone, self-deprecating humor, and.. so very anti-Grand Theft Auto this game is. Not anti as in antagonistic, merely that it goes out of its way to show how different it is from what would be a possible natural first impression of the game. I know it was mine!
I played a lot of – but never finished – GTA:Vice City, wooed by its apparent comedy, completely awesome (to this child of the 80’s!) soundtrack and open sandbox gameplay. I skipped an installment and picked up GTA:IV upon release, and whilst I was agog at its visuals and scale; I was left cold by its story and niggling friend/cousin micro-management. So I barely played it at all.
So… in 2011 Saints Row the Third arrives on the scene with some completely “whacky” adverts on the TV and, most crucially of all (to my personal tastes), a full campaign co-op multiplayer mode! I love co-op in games, especially those with big story arcs to follow, it just makes such a difference to be able to play through a game with a friend in this way. This is exactly what SR3 allows you to do, but that alone doth not a great game make, fortunately it manages to be that too.
As I alluded to earlier, the game takes the basic gameplay style of GTA, (driving, shooting, gangsters city exploration), and does away with any attempt to paint it in any kind of gritty realism in favour of bright day-glo colouring, larger than life characters, story, and events.
The game allows you to play as male or female, (and um, change that if you so desire later in the game!), with full performances from the player-character for each. In fact, somewhat bizarrely you have a choice of voice-performance style to choose from at the start. (for female: default, Easter-European accented, or NEW YAWK accented !) These options are all defined about half-way through the (playable) intro with the usual character appearance customization, which is quite detailed in this particular game, I spent the usual half-hour or so tweaking it – I would later discover you can change your appearance in-game!
Now, I approached this game not having played any of the previous SR games, so I was initially a bit baffled by the characters and setting, but quickly warmed to it – especially when early on your co-gang member Johnny shouts “PROTECT THE BOSS!” – and I was all looking for the boss, until I realized it was me! This seemed all the cooler due to the simple fact that here was “Me”, the apparent female leader of this gang.
What follows is a rollercoaster action ride of the first 20 minutes of the game which forms the basis of an introduction, after which you’re in sandbox territory and, unlike GTA, the entirety of the city is at your disposal from the very beginning.
As you explore, your map populates with shops, services and notable locations. Want to fly a plane? Head to the airport. Want a change of clothes? Find a clothing store. Fancy a bit of plastic surgery, a tattoo or pimped vehicle? – Just find one of the many places on the map that offer the service you want, right off the bat.
You pick up the primary story arc through interactions with your homies via your phone (which doubles as your GPS/map) as well as sideline quests of the usual escort, assassination, and fetch ilk.. and some slightly more unusual events.
The basic premise of the story is that by this installment of the game The Saints Row gang are celebrities, not really doing much gang-work, more into public appearances and product endorsement. During a bank-robbery “stunt” featuring the star of a Vampire-related TV show, it all goes wrong. The Saints are locked up and then taken to the leader of a crime Syndicate who expresses their intention to take over the Saint’s assets. This sets the basis of the story, The Saints reclaiming their mojo, taking on the Syndicate, and taking over the City of Steelport.
This is an adult game, make no mistake, both in terms of language, content, and most certainly violence. If anything its more violent than GTA, with yours and other gangs at war with each other, the police, military and government. The violence is offset by the day-glo colour scheme, comedy, and sheer absurdity of it – but from a purely superficial standpoint it can look very violent, especially early on. Perseverance pays though, as you soon not so much get used to it, but are laughing at the ridiculousness of it. Weapons including a baseball bat with a huge purple dildo attached, the hilarious sound-effects of the Genki mind-controlling reluctant octopus launcher, (no, really), and the Land Shark launcher soon had me guffawing at it, not to mention the “car” chase played out with gimpsuited sex-slaves pulling carriages which, yes, as is customary, explode upon crashing! Did I mention this was an “adult” game?What really sells this is the tongue-in-cheek performances of the actors, as well as some really good animation, and I absolutely *love* the fact that the characters interact with you “the Boss” the same regardless of your gender, this makes for a really satisfying experience playing this as a female, much the same as Mass Effect, there’s really Zero instances of “hey, sweet cheeks” – and when there is it is there regardless of the character’s gender – as my male co-op mate found out to his dismay in one scene where you’re drugged and staggering about the place naked (humorously “pixelated” bits, of course!)
There has been some comment however on the other females as depicted in the game, and I will put my Feminist hat™ on and say that yes, there is a huge element of scantily clad “bitches and ho’s” who seem to be mere objects and scenery in the game, but I’ll say that this is offset by the strength of the primary lead characters as written in the game – the player, and Shaundi, your right-hand-woman. Its likely something that everyone thinks, but I can’t imagine the game playing out with anything other than a female lead as the boss, and this is a good thing™ . One thing that did bother me was in the character creation – for some reason the developers think that anyone over the age of 10 has some serious wrinkleage, when I put in my actual age I was horrified at the apparent wrinkley face I supposedly must have if my character was anything to go by. Perhaps its all that sunny weather. On the other hand I was all ready to be incensed about the “Sex appeal” slider being the Boob-size adjustment, but upon checking I found that the same slider affected the size of the male sausage compartment, ha!
Also, there’s a good share of male objectification in the game too. Another nice touch is that you can choose the “uniform” of your entire gang so if you want your girls and boys running around scantily, or sensibly, you choose so yourself.
I’d be lying if I didn’t mention the fact that I absolutely loved the whole “dress-up” nature to this game which is one of its selling points. You can inexplicably walk around the city green-skinned, with a mustache, wearing a space helmet, Lady GaGa-esque couture dress, and combat boots. The clothes shops are simply and comically themed (“Let’s Pretend!” – cosplay fun, “Nobody Loves Me” – Goth/emo fashion, “Leather & Lace” – well.. you can imagine)
As I’ve mentioned the game is very bright, colourful, and graphically very nice, though the characters suffer a lot from the “Uncanny Valley” – I guess we’ve been spoiled by other games recently with character emotion depiction as SR3 is definitely not the best at this, but it hides this with unsubtle exaggerated design.
The game itself was just a pleasure to play, and replay in single player as well as co-op. The winning factor is its sense of fun. I frequently found myself laughing or staring agog at the screen with incredulity.
I picked up the game not that long after release cheaply including a “season pass” to DLC, and the DLC has been a mixed bag of “costumes”, vehicles, weapons, and missions. The missions vary from being small little diversions, to fairly large chunks of standalone fun. I’ve seen the game only (no DLC) this week for sale online for £7 for the PC version (reviewed) which I bought as well so that my niece(teen) and I could replay it for this review.
If you can laugh at toilet humour, comedy sex, innuendo and tolerate people being shot (a lot) then I think you’ll enjoy this game very much. The game has lots of little nods to films, other games, and even ye olde retro text adventures at one point.
Special mention for the soundtrack, that whilst featuring the usual assortment of in-car radio stations (though not as full of character as GTA’s) also has some real standout work, including a song sung by the lead characters, a Michael Bay-esque orchestral score for a scene involving… Well, the shooting of a movie… and a totally left field (but oh so wonderfully appropriate) turn of music for the very unusual finale!
Finally, merely listing the keywords associated with the game should provide you some idea of its bizarre nature:
Guns, shooting, gimps, pimps, zombies, Burt Reynolds, sky-diving, toilet, gangstas and spaceships.
Every now and again as you wander through your Friendly Local Games Store, you see something that makes you go “Eh?” quickly followed by “Noooo, they can’t have done” and “How in the blue blazes is that going to work?” (Or, you know, something along those lines). I had that very experience last weekend, when a tootle round Grainger Games revealed this intriguing oddity:
Yes, that is H.P. Lovecraft’s Mountains of Madness. And yes, that is a jewel puzzle game. My one previous attempt at a jewel puzzle game ended badly, but this was something I just had to see…
At its heart, Mountains of Madness (well, this version anyway) is a hidden object and match-3 puzzle, with a bit of “figure out how to get the jewels out of ice/hideous statues of Elder Gods” action thrown in for good measure. It must be said, carrying out a hidden object search through the frozen corpses of hideously murdered Antarctic explorers isn’t something you’d want to do every day, but its certainly a new twist on the format (particularly when, if you click on said corpses, there are some pithy statements made about the poor person involved). One particular comment about a person trapped under an overturned sled looking a bit distressed made me laugh somewhat inappropriately (and he, at least, was still alive).
Some of the match-3 games are tricky, but not in a “throw your DS across the room in a fit of pique” way. Plus you earn tools that, once you figure out how to use them, can be tremendously useful in beating some of the harder puzzles. Although be warned: one of the tools lets you switch the colour of every stone on the board, which can actually put you in a worse position than the one you started in. You also earn trophies as you progress through the game, although it’s a bit idiosyncratic as to when it hands them out. I received the one for playing for three hours before I got the one for playing for two and I’m still waiting for the one you get for achieving 12 other trophies.
The story, as you would imagine, has been massively abridged and monkeyed with to make it fit the game format. Some of the translation leaves a lot to be desired, both in what some of the objects in the puzzles are called (I’m sorry, but a glass beer stein is not the same thing as a jar) and also in terms of the passages of narrative text, particularly at the end of the game where it all gets very confusing.
One of the main ways the game shines, though, is in the artwork. The backdrops for the puzzles are beautifully painted and very atmospheric. You’ll again get comedy comments if you click on certain items (“I wouldn’t want to meet the thing that posed for that statue!” etc) which shows that although their translation skills may be a bit duff, the designers have a very good eye and a sense of humour.
It’s a truly oddball thing, this game. I suspect hard-core devotees of Lovecraft will hate it because of what it’s done to the story, but it actually gives a little more interest to the proceedings. After all, if I hadn’t been bamboozled by the concept in the first place, I never would have bought it. And that would have been a real shame; it neither drove me mad nor reached new peaks of gaming experience, but it was fun and compelling and that’s pretty much all of what I ask for in a game.
Me and this game are besties.
When I first got to know it about a year ago, I thought it was boring. It was nerdy but not in a cool way, I thought. Mannnn, the truth is I’d been hanging out with the bro games and goth games for so long I forgot what nerdy cool looked like.
Sure, it’s got more side quests than a wedding planner. Everybody wants you to get stuff for them. Everybody! My god. The countryside is teeming with people who can’t walk five minutes to fetch a soup bone or something. Why are you not heinously fat, NPCs??? How do you keep your cute little NPC chub-belly so dainty when you can’t walk like, literally, into your own backyard?
How does NPC commerce even work?!?!? Nobody can be bothered to go anywhere! Do they have transporter beams to get goods to the shops? This one guy was even like, Oh I just can’t get that stone five feet to my left. Please get it for me!
What, seriously? Um, okay, BUT ONLY because I am an XP junkie of the nth degree.
No, but seriously, this game made me cackle. Not even like a hen. LIKE A TURKEY. Like, Cogogogoglllaghkakakakakekekekekeheee. And repeatedly! I even hit my head on the back of the sofa hard enough to give myself a headache, I cackled so vehemently. The voice actor for DeathSpank is just that good.
Plus Ron Gilbert wrote it. In case you’re suffering a severe case of the herp derps, I will explain:
YES MY FRIENDS
The best part is that I didn’t have to wrest P1 from LofL’s unyielding grasp: there’s co-op available. It does tend to make the game stupidly easy, but it was super fun nonetheless. The first game doesn’t give you a choice of co-op characters because co-op was an afterthought. That’s fine. It’s still fun. But we’re playing the second game now, and the co-op characters are awesome. I definitely recommend both DeathSpank 1&2.
I have to say, none of the gameplay trailers do DeathSpank any favours. It doesn’t look fun (not to me, anyway) but it’s reeeeeeallly fun. The challenge in this game is doing enough of the side missions and using the weapons you get correctly — that is to say, not a challenge at all. It’s basically one giant, convoluted vessel for hilarious voice-acting and a brilliant script.
~ Alice M.
When Street Fighter IV was released last year it brought a breath of fresh air to the Beat ‘Em Up genre. Suddenly, more people around me seemed to be playing Street Fighter than any other game! I admit that I had not touched the franchise since around 1993 when I was playing Street Fighter II with my brothers but I had a lot of very fond memories. The great thing about SFIV was that it didn’t tarnish any of those memories but built upon them. SFIV was nostalgic yet modern and most of all it was a hell of a lot of fun. So, it came as a bit of a surprise when Capcom announced a sequel within less than a year of it being released. There has been some not entirely unjustified moaning and complaining about the short shelf-life of SFIV but the majority of us have gone out and bought SSFIV anyway. So, is it worth it’s £30 ($40) price tag?
Everyone knows that the bonus stages are back and you can now smash barrels and cars to your hearts content. But the first thing that makes SSFIV worth buying is evidently the 10 new characters. Best of all there is no waiting to play them. Unlocking characters has always been a tedious task that any player is likely to do by setting the game on “easiest” and button-mashing your way through. I am thankful that Capcom have seen sense and done away with this. And the new characters are excellent. If you prefer playing quarter-circle characters to charge characters you will be spoiled for choice here! Juri, Ibuki and Guy were particularly easy characters to get to grips with for me. However, I felt it was Hakan that really stole the show. The oily grabber is a little bit like Zangief doing the most damage when he is close up but he also has some ranged attacks that can be timed to perfection. All the characters have been give a new ultra move so you now have 2 to chose from before you go into battle. This really mixes up the game providing new opportunities and strategies of play. Of course all characters have been balanced a little bit. Sagat isn’t quite as ferocious as he was previously and the timing on some of Honda’s moves is a little bit easier to grasp. A lot of this won’t be noticeable to the more casual player but I am sure the more deadly serious players will be either arguing about or praising the changes.
The second thing that makes SSFIV worth buying is the new online modes. There are still the Ranked matches in which you gain points and compete directly with just about everyone else who owns the game but a more relaxed time can be had in the new Team Battles. The team battles can have between 4 to 8 players split into 2 groups. The fights result in direct elimination with the winner going on to the next round until one team has been defeated. The best thing about this is that you can watch the matches even when you are not playing yourself! You can also talk with the rest of your team whilst you watch the matches. It is literally the closest thing you will have to playing in an arcade. It also means that you can get all your friends together online and play if you can’t gather in person. This social aspect to fighting games has often been neglected on consoles and Capcom deserves a pat on the back for implementing a system that manages to somewhat replicate it. It will never take over the actual excitement and fun of playing with people in the same room as you but it comes pretty close. As long as the dreaded lag doesn’t get you.
SSFIV feels a bit like the game SFIV was meant to be. It is a shame that we couldn’t have had this the first time around but perhaps Capcom needed the fan feedback in order to create a better game. Also, there are so many new aspects to SSFIV it certainly couldn’t have been released as DLC. SSFIV is a game that evidently has a long shelf life and I hope Capcom will be supporting it for a few years to come.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, Honda and I will be taking sumo on a world wide tour and you’ve got front row seats!