Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Square Heroes Impressions

I am personally a big fan of online indie gaming. There needs to be more of it and Square Heroes offers that. It's not anything brand new it's actually based off a title called Square Off for Xbox Live Indie Market. It's a lot more fleshed out than that first title with new guns, weapons, and hats, and game modes. The game also features both co-op and competitive online multiplayer. Square Heroes is a great example of how video games don't have to reinvent new concepts but just improve on ones that already exist.

Square Heroes has a single player mode but this is just for the sole purpose of showing you the game. It shows you the controls for the game as well as teaching you all the multiplayer game types. It's something that you could literally skip over if you have friends to play with online. If you can even find some random players online I would highly suggest that over the single player mode.

Alright here's the real reason why anyone would purchase this game is the multiplayer. Joining matches is simple and easy. What's great is that people can vote on the game mode they want to play even if they aren't the person running the game! Co-op matches go up to four players while competitive matches go up to six players.

The game play is simple especially with a controller but you can also play with a keyboard and mouse. You use the right analog stick to aim and the left analog stick to move. Shooting is as easy as pressing the the right or left triggers. You can switch your weapons by opening a small circle menu with the right bumper and holding a direction for the weapon you want to choose.

Instead of describing each individual game mode I would just like to talk about my favorite one which is King Slayer. It's a co-op mode for up to four player where you face aganist one strong computer player known as the Alien King. He floats around and can kill you in one hit with melee and a couple of hits with his crossbow. You must work as a team to take him down because you only get one shot before it's round over. If a player dies you don't re spawn until either the Alien King kills you all or you kill him. It's a fun game mode that requires team work and coordination.

Also the game features a leveling system that helps you unlock new weapons, hats, abilities. The weapons don't just look different but have unique attributes. This is the same for the hats as well that can help you turn the tide in a battle. Though leveling can take a good bit of time but there are certain hours of the day where you gain extra experience.

One problem with the game has to do with death. Following players after death is a key feature in most online games because who wants to stare at your own corpse until the round is over? Sadly you can't cycle through the players that are still alive to watch the game which can be annoying especially when the player who dies is trying to stream the game. Hopefully this can be fixed.

It's a game that's easy to pick up and play. Play it at a party of play it online with your friends. Either way it's fun so what more do you want! You can pick up the game on Steam.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Plague Inc: Evolved Impressions

Ever have the desire to just... kill everyone in the world?  First of all, don't admit to that out loud.  Secondly, have I got the game for you!

Plague Inc started out on mobile platforms (iOS and Android) before making the leap to computer.  I am so thankful that it made that transition.  Well, it is making that transition.  The game is still in early access and still has a long way to go.  You know what is very impressive though?  Out of the 7,500 or so reviews on Steam 95% of them recommend this game.  That's very impressive for a game that isn't even done yet.

So, what is PIE?  Plague Inc: Evolved is PIE, get with the program!  I'm too lazy to type of the name every time.  So, PIE is the next step up from the mobile version.  At its core, the game is the same right now.  They might have fiddled with a few bits here and there or polished up the graphics, but the game plays much the same way.  It benefits immensely from the transition to the big screen though.  While not perfect, viewing the world map on a 46 inch HDTV is much more preferable than on my tiny Galaxy S3.

With the whole world in your view you feel like you are in a command center.  Your aim?  Destroy the world.  This is a strategy game through and through, so if you can't handle a little game of chance now and again you won't dig this game.  It is highly addictive though.  Games can play out in so many different ways and there are a multitude of perks that fundamentally change the way the game is played.  There are also many different organisms* you can use to destroy the world that all play very differently.

Don't think the world is just going to roll over and die either.  The world will fight back.  Doctors will work tirelessly to cure the disease.  Some governments with mandate that those showing signs of disease will be shot on sight.  You must be smart and evolve your disease in a way most beneficial to you.  If your disease is too deadly and kills to quickly it won't have a chance to spread.

This is a game that you'll find long forum discussions on strategies and tactics.  No matter how vicious your disease can get there will always be  many chances for your sure victory to fall apart.  It's infuriating and completely worth your time.  I put almost 12 hours into this death simulator over the weekend and loved every hair pulling moment.  I haven't touched the scenario mode yet either! 

I am most excited to know how they plan to implement multiplayer into PIE.  It's a burning curiosity.  Only time will tell, but until then I think you should brush up on your strategic annihilation of the human race.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Space Beast Terror Fright Impressions

Get ready to die. Not just die once, but over and over again. Space Beast Terror Fright is a challenging first person shooter that requires all your skill. Your one goal is to find the coolant stations and arm a space station full of hostile aliens to explode. With randomly generated levels, each time you play feels like you are in a brand new space station. It only takes one strike from an alien to kill you and death is around every single corner.

You have one weapon-- a rifle, but you have limited ammo. Conservation of your ammo is key to making it out of the space station in one piece. You can also activate turrets which shoot at enemies for you, but they also have limited amounts of ammo as well. Weapons only help you fight off enemies for a short amount of time because there are unlimited amounts of enemy waves to fight off. 

The game doesn't hold your hand, but it gives you a little guidance about where to go. At the bottom of the screen UI gives you a small indicator on where the next data core is. Data cores give you random perks like more battery life, faster download speed, more ammo, and even heat vision that lets you see enemies better. Though in order to download a data core you must stand in front of it and wait till in finishes if you leave before it finishes you have to restart the process again. This can be challenging with the alien swarms are also chasing you down at the same time!

The game also features a sensor meter which indicates how far enemies are from you, but doesn't tell you there exact location. The aliens can be blocked off by closing doors, but they can eventually break through any door. All it takes is one hit from them and your dead, so the key is to keep as much space as possible between you and them. Avoiding confrontation is the best strategy. I would highly suggest this tactic, but at times you'll have to go through a wave in order to progress. 

The game plays well with a controller and you can play with up to four players locally. Though I wish it had online multiplayer, it's not the end of the world. The fact that I have to be social in real life and invite some friends over to play isn't too much of a barrier. The game dynamically changes and becomes a bit easier with friends playing with me. As a single player experience, it can be scary and stressful.

If you don't want to be challenged then don't buy this game. If you don't want a game to hold your hand and tell you what to do then pick up Space Beast Terror Fright on Steam Early Access. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Axiom Verge Impressions

This entire game was made by one guy.  That is insane.  Just think about that.  Over the course of five years Thomas Happ slowly labored over this masterpiece.  Yes, I just called it that.  This is what happens when you have one cohesive, unfaltering vision and the talent to back it up.  I don't know the finer details of this game's development.  All I know is the ends results and they are fantastic.

To be clear, I have not finished it yet.  Yet, I can already tell that I will re-visit this game for years to come.  It has taken it's place alongside classics like Symphony of the Night and Super Metroid.  It doesn't copy those games though.  They share certain similarities, but Axiom Verge always has it's own twist on things.

Since this game is about discovery, I won't elaborate on the things you'll see.  I will just say that it is worth the price of admission.  The story is simple, super weird, and ultimately intriguing.  I have put in a little over 20 hours, which puts me at 73% of the map explored and 50% of the items obtained.  I am just at the point in the game where it starts to up the difficulty.  To be completely honest, I am stuck on a boss.  Every time I fight it I come a little closer to understanding and little closer to conquering.

The game is absolutely gorgeous.  The pixel art is a combination of 16-bit / 32-bit era and in high definition the art is crisp and clean with graphical effects that are simply awesome.  Every step of the way I keep reminding myself that this game was made by one dude-- and how incredibly talented he must be.  This game doesn't lean on nostalgia, because it doesn't need to do so.  There isn't a single part of this game that wasn't well executed.

Right now, it is only on PS4.  It is cross-buy though.  So, if you do purchase it you will be get the VITA version as well... whenever that is released.

So, I am going to stop writing now and get back to the game because when a game can stay on your mind as much as Axiom Verge, even after 20 hours, you know you have something special.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Depth Impressions

Lately I have a fix on first person shooters. Evolve has been my go to online game for a great new take on man vs beast. Evolve is a great to play with friends, but it lacks the tension since matches are so long. Depth is like Evovle but pits a team of two sharks vs four divers in the craziest edge of your seat shooter on PC to date. It's a game that always feels different no matter how many times you play and nothing is scarier than a giant shark lunging after you!

The game is simple it's sharks vs divers as one sides fights for supremacy over the other. Each team has a set number of lives so strategy is key for winning. Sharks can win by destroying the divers treasure robot S.T.E.V.E or by killing them until they run out of lives. As a diver you can win by either killing the sharks till they run out of lives or by letting S.T.E.V.E. open all the treasure chests and reaching escape cage. It mixes both team death match, and an objective based mode into one game.

As a diver money is how you gain new equipment and weapons. At the start of each round you just have enough money to buy a pistol and an upgrade. You earn more money by letting S.T.E.V.E open up chests as well as picking up treasure from the ocean floor. With each piece of treasure you pick up you must take back to S.T.E.V.E. in order gain the cash. If a shark kills you before you drop off your treasure you lose it all! Though the weapons range from machine guns, spear guns, pistols, but the game has some pretty interesting equipment. My favorite item to date is the shark shield which creates a bubble that blocks sharks from being able to see where you are on the map as long as you don't leave the bubble.

Sharks can't earn money so they have evolution points. You earn evolution points by eating divers in each game.  They can be used to increase your passive skills or use them improve your active skill. There are different sharks to chose from each with their own unique skills. The Great White shark for example has an active skill that lets you reduce damage for a limited amount of time. By increasing his active skill you can increase the amount of damage you take in as well make nets less effective. It's just one example, but there are plenty of ways you can play as a shark to suit your play style. Honestly just killing divers is fun since you simulate thrashing by moving the mouse as fast as you can in opposite directions.

Depth has really good level design so divers do better in close quarters, while sharks are dominate in open waters. Though team work is the name of the game for either side. Well organized teams can dominate any situation whether it's in open waters or in a sunken pirate ship. I suggest grabbing some of your friends to play this game if you really want to become an expert since most people don't play with microphones.

My few gripes with the game have to do with the tutorial. Other than a bunch of text files the game doesn't really teach you how to play it but once you learn the controls they are pretty easy. The other problem the game suffers from I think has to do being able to choose a server to play on. Right now the options are to be matched up with random players or creating your own lobby and inviting your friends. Again these problems don't really make or break the game for me.

Depth is a game well worth the money. Though this game is meant only to be played online it really deserves a lot more press than it is getting. It's a fun game that requires fast reflexes and team work like no other first person shooter does this year. Matches are easy to jump into and didn't experience any horrible moments of lag. Depth creates an excitement that feels like your a massive shark or a human with a machine gun swimming under water. You can purchase the game on Steam right now!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Helldivers Impressions

Have you ever seen the movie (or read the book) Starship Troopers?  More importantly, do you enjoy "accidentally" shooting your friends, yelling some asinine statement about liberty, and taking on the impossible odds and hordes of bugs, cyborgs, and the Illuminati (ahem... The Illuminate)?

The game looks beautiful and fluid on ps4.  It's fun to just jump in and kick some ass (or get your ass kicked).  The real kicker is that friendly fire is always on.  So, if you come between a squad mate's gun barrel and an enemy-- be ready to hit the deck!  There is actually a button to hit the deck for just such an occasion.

In true militaristic fashion, you are able to call in for reinforcements, supplies, airstrikes, and vehicles.  These all have a cool-down timer on them and have a limited number, but are all extremely satisfying.  This is especially true when the payload lands on top of an enemy smashing them into little bits.  So great!  I should also note that your payload can also crush squad mates, so be careful... or not.  These are called in when you kneel, bring out a radio, and enter a code.  It is a wonderful throwback to the time you entered codes to cheat and get more ammo!  Up, Down, Down, Up gets you... something.  I forget. But all interactions, from raising SAM sites to disabling generators, are done in this manner.  It's feel pretty awesome rushing to enter a code with hordes of enemies breathing down your neck.

The more you play, the more you kill, the more missions you run will all contribute to leveling up your character.  It also contributes to an overall "war" against the bugs, cyborgs, and illuminate that is semi persistent.  The missions are randomized, but generally involve doing similar activities.  I never grew tired of playing though.  It's incredibly polished gameplay.

The game looks pretty much the same on ps3 with lower resolution (especially shadows).  It is still completely playable and just as fun.  The VITA version is a bit annoying in the controls department.  There aren't as many buttons and therefore touch controls come into play... which I don't like.  Using touch controls while aiming a grenade toss is not my bag, but to each his own.

My biggest problem with this game is matchmaking.  It's a pain to get into a match with random people.  There is no way (that I am aware of) to search for games by the amount of people already in it.  Your best bet is to jump on a game that has 1 or 2 people in it and hope it connects before someone else gets in.  If you see a game with 3 out of 4 slots full you will most likely not have time to join before someone else.  I feel like this could be handled better, such as an auto-game finder thing that keeps trying until it finds a game.

My second problem is with the UI.  I feel like it takes up too much of the screen.  Complaining aside, it is a very clean and elegant interface... I just wish it was smaller.

This game is cross-buy and cross-save and... almost cross-play.  They are working on it.  So, for 20 bucks you get this wonderful game on all three Sony platforms (ps3, ps4, and Vita).  Hooray!  It is still totally worth it if you only have one of those consoles.