Thursday, 5 December 2013

Classic Game Review - TimeSplitters 2

Dun du du dah! Can you hear the fanfare, blazing out a triumphant tune, with everyone around it going absolutely crazy, screaming and applauding? No, of course not. This is me typing. If you can hear one, it's either because you're reading this next to a brass band, or you're just crazy. But, if there were a fanfare and masses of people celebrating, it would be because we've added a new section to our blog! Yes, now you can read brand new, refreshed reviews of the games you loved as a wee kid! It's Classic Game Review time! And we start off the first review with a bang, TimeSplitters 2. (Alun Owen, Triple-A Crystal Collector)


TimeSplitters 2 was a game developed by Free Radical Design, now known as Crytek. After the success of the first Time Splitters, the developers needed to live up to expectations and create another brilliant game, and oh boy did they. The game has two mission modes, single player, which consists of 10 missions and co-op (which has the same levels as single player, but the advantage of playing with a buddy). I know, 10 missions doesn’t seem a lot, but the great thing is that you can play these over and over without getting bored. Each level has a difficulty setting, easy, medium, hard etc. These difficulties not only changes how hard it is, it also adds new objectives (one of my favourites being Siberia on hard, where you have to destroy a helicopter on top of a dam). Every mission (except the last) is set in either the past or the future, copying famous films, for example, Neo Tokyo blatantly copies the dystopian sci-fi film Blade Runner, with the hovering police cars and even the same pedestrian crossing sound (yes, I’m that sad for noticing).

The objectives of each level is to collect the time crystals, that opens a portal, where you can hop in to be transported back to the space station where the game starts. Sgt. Cortez and Corporal Hart (the character you play as) are sent to collect these crystals to stop the TimeSplitters to use them against mankind. The TimeSplitters use these crystals to travel in time and change the course of history, spreading chaos over Earth. But, as Cortez and Hart reach the bridge to nip the crystals off the pesky aliens, 10 of them grab the crystals and jump into a time portal and are transported to various periods of history, like the Wild West and 1930's Chicago. Cortez pursues the aliens by bravely chasing them through time. In each time period, Cortez takes form of a person that represents that time period, which is pretty clever and adds a cool twist. 

No wonder that girl rejected you, mate...
There is also an Arcade mode, which has nothing to do with the main story. This mode has a variety of challenges, like holding off a horde of the undead or smashing the windows of Notre Dame with bricks. Crazy, I know, but so much fun. After completing a challenge, you'll be awarded with either a bronze, silver, gold or platinum trophy, depending on how fast you finished the challenge. 

The gameplay is superb. Yes, it's complete rip off of the classic Goldeneye for the N64, but this game is full of parodies and spoofs, and this tops it off. You get the classic crescents on the side of your screen displaying your health and body armour and the first person view. But, what makes this truly special is that it's not cheaply made, at times I thought I was actually playing Goldeneye. The vast arsenal of weapons you possess as well is tremendous, so many ways of killing your enemies! Weapons vary from a double-barreled shotgun to a rocket launcher and proximity mines. What would have been nice have been some melee weapons, that would add some competition if you and your friends wanted to play a murderous game of knifes only.

Goldeneye has improved its graphics. Oh wait...
All of the above make this game excellent, but what nudges this game from a great game to an OMG BEST GAME EVER is the multiplayer. There are so many maps to choose from, and even more game modes, tons of them. And, I mean tons. You can choose from the classics like Deathmatch and Capture the Flag and newer game modes, like Virus. Most of these are brilliant to play, others, like nearly all FPS's, are duds, so just avoid these (modes like Leech). You can also play with your friends or against bots. The AI in the multiplayers are usually up to scratch, with occasional neat rolls to dodge your bullets. Yet, there are some errors, sometimes they just stop in their tracks and start running around in a circle. Very frustrating, I know, especially in a game of Flame Tag, where one of you has to sacrifice yourself to be 'tagged' to carry on the game. If you want a good scare, play Flame Tag in the map Hospital. Those narrow corridors and dark halls are haunting, you never know what's gonna pop out... 

Get your own toilet!

Going back to the Challenge mode, you complete these mini-games to unlock new characters and weapons. There are about 120 characters to be unlocked, ranging from your standard Soviet guard to a flying genie snowman, and to top it all off, a hand. You will never get bored of these characters, and after a while, you will settle for a character and you will love and cherish him/her/it (mine being the snowman. C'mon, it's a flying snowman!). These characters also have stats as well, like Accuracy and Agility, but if you want a fair game you can disable this (not that it changes much anyway).

High Five!
So, this is a must buy for any gamer wanting a good ol' fashioned FPS, without the crappy online filled with racist 12-year-old children and a good, solid Story line. Okay, they could've added a bit more missions and developed some more, like the Return to Planet X mission, which is very dull to play with little interesting objectives. I also feel that Free Radical Design rushed the game a bit, how did they not notice the characters running like headless chickens? But, except for these minor niggles and faults, this game is by far one of the most fun split-screen game to play to date. Every map you'll enjoy playing, every character has a specific personality to them and you'll never tire of picking up a double-barreled shotgun and blasting the head off a stinking zombie. This is also the best game in the TimeSplitters series, and at the moment, it will be relatively cheap. So, if you have a GameCube, a Play Station 2 or an Xbox, go down to the nearest gaming shop (or pop online) and grab yourself this game! It's Time consuming, and it will Split your sides with laughter! (Weak pun to end review). 

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Fighting Fire with, well... Fire – A ‘Little Inferno’ Review

Fighting Fire with, well... Fire – A ‘Little Inferno’ Review


 By Owen Jones (Indie Game Pyromaniac) 

I’ve literally just finished playing Little Inferno, and I can confidently say it’s among the stupidest and strangest games I’ve played, and that’s by no means a bad thing. Little Inferno is, as the title suggests, a game about burning things, so if you don’t particularly fancy defacing property or getting in trouble with the law then Little Inferno is a great way to satisfy the pyromaniac within you. I have no idea who thought up this game or who thought it was a good idea, but I’m damn glad they did.

Here’s a wacky trailer for a wacky game:

The trailer doesn’t show any gameplay so I’ll try to briefly explain that now. Clicking and holding the mouse creates fire for you to burn things in your 'Little Inferno Entertainment Fireplace'. Items cost money and take time to deliver, but do not fear you gain money and stamps by burning things for reasons that are never fully explained, so you can buy more items to burn and receive them faster. There are also combinations for you to find, adding a puzzle element to the game. Though the gameplay gets very dull after two hours or so watching things burn was more fun than I expected, and managed to keep my interest for long enough to complete the game, though only just.
And that’s my primary criticism, the game gets very dull. It’s trying to tell us something about video games, micro transactions and so forth, and though this is interesting stuff it sacrifices a lot of the fun I originally got from Little Inferno. Having to wait for the items to be delivered before I could burn them was a pain, and though the stamps that speed the delivery up lessen the blow they weren’t enough, and as a result I spent many minutes waiting rather than playing.

Prometheus stole fire from the Gods so that Man might burn miniature scarecrows
The game is surprisingly theme orientated. Consumerism plays a huge part in Little Inferno, as does its critique of Video Games and its effects, as I mentioned before. The plot is existent though not prominent until the end. As you burn things letters are delivered from your neighbour or the Weather Forecast reporting on how cold it is. The writing was often humorous; but never really laugh out loud funny, though it broke up the gameplay well.
The game takes an unexpected twist towards the end, becoming surprisingly charming and even heart warming (no pun intended). I don’t want to spoil it to you but the gameplay and even tone of the game changes completely, and in my opinion for the better.
Er, thanks... I guess
The ending is terrific; it’s just getting there that’s the problem. I appreciate what Tomorrow Corporation were trying to tell us, but there was just too much grinding and waiting to get any real joy after the first few catalogues of items.
And this is a great shame because watching things burn is a lot of fun. The fire animations are gorgeous and the developers have poured a lot of creativity into the items and how they burn. Perhaps with more stamps or shorter deliveries I might have appreciated all this a lot more, but as it was I was left merely smirking at the game’s gags.
And the themes are interesting, and I can't help but feel they could have found a way of discussing them without all the grinding. As it is I feel the sacrifices to the gameplay are too great a price to pay, which is strange because I often disagree in cases like this. I think, however, that the general premise of the game is enough to convey the portrayal of consumerism, and though the delivering of items expands on this it isn't necessary and is just too long to wait between burning things (which really is a lot of fun).
Why settle for a bike or a pirate when you can have both? Because it's a stupid idea? Yeah, good point.

As I’ve already mentioned, once you’ve burnt everything under (and including) the Sun the game takes a turn for the better, justifying completing the main section of the game.The combinations does add a layer of replayability, but I have no desire whatsoever in trying to find all 100 of them.
But does it justify buying the game? Certainly not at full price, currently just under £7 (around $11.50 or €8.50). Considering I got it in a Humble Bundle it felt more like a nice inclusion than a full purchase, and I’m not sure how I’d see the game if it were the other way round. Though that Bundle’s long gone if you can get it in another bundle or in a particularly good sale then it would definatly be worth buying, but not at full price. Don’t get me wrong, Little Inferno isn’t a bad game, just rendered dull and repetitive by a few unnecessary mechanics. There are defiantly some very good things in here, but these are unfortunately separated by these mechanics.

You can buy Little Inferno from Steam or directly from the developers, Tomorrow Corporation. It's also available for the Wii U or your tablet/phone (which might work better than on the computer).

Generally good advice for life

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Run, Isaac, Run! - The Binding of Isaac Review

'What's this?!' I hear you say? 'Alun Owen, a Triple-A reviewer, reviewing an indie game? What the Hell is happening?!'. Hey, just give me a chance okay? I may not be as talented as my co-worker, but my dear fans (if I have any), just hold on. Anyway, rant over, let's get on with the game. The Binding of Isaac is a game created by the brains behind Super Meat Boy, Edward McMillen (Team Meat). The game is a mix of different genres, borrowing the classic top down view of The Legend of Zelda and randomization of games like Dungeons and Dredmor. Although The Binding of Isaac is a lighthearted game, it does bring in a dark and twisted atmosphere, and it will make any player want to come back for more and explore the cavernous depths of the game. Christians, I do not recommend this game (WARNING: Blasphemy.) (Alun Owen, apprentice Indie Game Reviewer) 

The Binding of Isaac mirrors the classic Biblical story of the same name. The game starts with a sweet story of Isaac and his Mum, or as the Americans call it, Mom. They both live in a house, on a hill. How cute is that, surely nothing can go wrong? Unfortunately, Isaac's Mom is a Bible Basher, (not literally bashing a Bible onto someone's head) and she watches 'Christian Broadcasts' all day long, whilst cute, innocent Isaac plays with his toys. But, as the saying goes, God has a plan for all of us, and God's plan for Isaac's Mom is to kill her own child. Christians and Jews, this is the guy you're worshiping, real nice man huh? As Isaac's Mom gets a butcher knife to murder Isaac, Isaac finds a trapdoor, jumps down and now your adventure begins.

You find yourself in a basement. Well, not just any basement, a truly massive one that has many rooms and about 6 levels to it. Probably bigger than the actual house itself. Each level is divided into rooms, with many power ups to collect and monsters to kill. As you may have guessed, each level gets harder and harder, The Basement 1 being the easiest and The Womb 2 being the hardest. Each room may hold pick ups, monsters or both, or sometimes, just masses of giant turds. Lovely. Also, each level holds a boss, and killing a boss lets you journey down to the next level. As you land in The Basement 1, you'll see a set of instructions on the floor, telling you the controls. The controls are difficult to get used to at the start. You use WASD to move and the arrow keys to shoot your tears. Yes, you read this right, you shoot tears. How trippy is that? I honestly think these guys were high whilst making this game. Anyway, your tears are your basic source of attacking (well, the only source really). You can upgrade your tears by picking up power ups, letting you charge up your tears or shoot them in many directions at once. Bombs and keys become useful as well, letting you open doors and secret passageways. Although there are many powers to collect to aid you in your escape of your own Mother, if ol' Uncle Death pays you a visit, that's it. No checkpoints. You'll have to start the game again.

Shoot those damn tears Isaac!

There are numerous ways to upgrade Isaac, and by doing so, evolving him into this black creature of death, making him truly hideous to even look at. There are two ways to do so, the good way and the evil way (by the way, I've just made this up). The good way is to get the powers from the power up room with the golden doors. These power ups include things like Mom's Eye, or even worse, Mom's underwear, which, for some bizarre reason, you wear on your head. You can collect these power ups with no strings attached. There's one power up room a level. The other, more riskier approach is to make a deal with the Devil, trading X amount of hearts to get these powers. Why use useful hearts to get powers, when you can get one some for free? Well, the Devil's powers usually are a lot more powerful (for example, Brimstone, upgrading your tears to super cool lasers). Tough choice, eh? The Devil room spawns after killing a boss, but not every time, so it's useful to go to the power up rooms just in case. Other than the powers, you can collect items such as cards and so forth. I would give you more information on these items, but annoyingly the game doesn't actual give you any detail of what the card does. This, in my opinion, is one of the major flaws of the game. People may enjoy the guessing, but I'm not like you, I'm lazy.

This Satan guy looks a bit dodgy...

What I truly love about this game is that you'll never play the same game twice. Every time you start a new level, it'll be different, making the game even more enjoyable, not boring the gamer as easily. Mind you, you will get bored of it after about 20 hours ish, but if you leave it for a while and come back to it, you'll soon be hooked again. There are also many alternate endings, 13 in fact. 2 were added on after the DLC The Wrath of the Lamb, which adds more characters and items. The monsters are again, one of the main reasons as why I enjoyed this game. There are so many types, from flies to massive jumping headless stick men. Horrifying.

I won't say who this is, but you might have guessed already.

So to sum up, for about £3, this game is a must buy, and will attract a wide range of gamers alike. Sure, it ain't perfect, the fact you don't even know what your items and power ups to is pretty annoying, and yes after a while you will get bored. Although every game is different, it does seem like the game repeats itself. Other than that, this is a great, little game, and it's thoroughly enjoyable.

No Work, All Play Rating: 8/10

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