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League of Legends Review

September 23, 2012 Leave a comment

League of Legends is a free-to-play MOBA game (in the style of the Warcraft III map, Defense of the Ancients, and its upcoming successor from Valve, Dota2) from Riot Games. Players control a single character and, with the help of their team, attempt to destroy the buildings of the other team. This is facilitated by their own character’s unique abilities, as well as the items they choose to buy with gold they earn over the course of a match, and runes and masteries that the player can acquire and customize in the launcher outside the actual matches. Over the years since its release, Riot Games has been steadily adding content to the game, primarily in the form of new playable characters. These characters, as well as cosmetic-only customization options for them, can be purchased with actual currency, and characters (but not skins) can be purchased through an alternate currency that is earned over time by playing matches. All the “freemium” stuff aside, though, let’s talk about the gameplay:

I’ll start off by saying that this game has a massive learning curve. Even the not-particularly-intelligent bots can be difficult for new players until they learn the ropes. This is because the game is incredibly deep. For example, there are well over a hundred items to choose from, with any combination of which you can equip your character during a given match. Learning what the best combinations are comes with a lot of time, research and/or practice. Until you’ve played as or played against every character (again, 100+) in the game, there’s a good chance that your opponents will be able to surprise you with something you’re just not familiar with yet. If you want to get any sort of decent at this game, plan to invest some time. I recommend you play this game with friends – it’s more fun to play on a team with people you know, and it’s a lot easier to learn with someone to help you along.

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Modern Warfare 3 Retrospective

March 7, 2012 Leave a comment

Alright, it’s been about 4 months since Infinity Ward’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 hit the shelves. I’ve already done a review of the game via my typical process, but I thought it would be a good idea to write a retrospective article to shed some light on longevity rather than impressions acquired over just a few weeks of play. That, and I wanted to point out a few things that I neglected to mention in the first one. Let’s get started.

I still play it, and it’s still fun, though my frequency of play has tapered off some, as would be expected. I’m a little disappointed at how often I run into cheaters of various varieties, but I guess that’s to be expected with a game with this kind of public profile, and I hear they’re working on it. It’s nice that they’re easy to spot with kill-cams, though. Also annoying are some lag, and troubles with the spawning system, like appearing too close to enemies – I expected better from Infinity Ward, but it’s nowhere near the atrocities committed by Call of Duty: Black Ops. Community playlists and downloadable content together keep the game fresh whether you choose to pay extra or not. In general, despite some hiccups, MW3 is still enjoyable and will likely stay that way up until another game grabs more of my time.

To end on a high note, the soundtrack by Brian Tyler is fantastic. Like many out there, I was a little worried when I learned that Hans Zimmer and Lorne Balfe would not be returning to improve on their wondrous compositions from the second game in the series. Lucky for me, Brian Tyler did an amazing job by pulling a little from previous games and bringing his own contributions to forge a masterful score. If you liked the soundtrack of MW2, you just might like this one even better. I’ll be watching to see what other music Brian Tyler creates.

What did you think of Modern Warfare 3? Has it aged well so far? Leave your thoughts in the comments and we can start some discussion.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Review

November 17, 2011 6 comments

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is a first-person shooter for PC, XBox360, and PS3 by Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer Games that continues the globe-trotting, high-intensity, world war action, beginning immediately after the events of its predecessor, Modern Warfare 2. It is also the subject of a continuous stream of biased reviews and comments all over the Internet. Because I am a fan of the Call of Duty series, I feel I should preface this post with the following notice: before you lump me in with those that blindly defend the series without justification, let me say that my statements below about the game are backed up with experiences and analysis. With that said, my experience with Modern Warfare 3 thus far has been very positive.

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VVVVVV Review

September 24, 2011 1 comment

I recently picked up the Humble Indie Bundle 3 while it was available last August. It’s a great deal and a good way to support independent developers and charities. As part of the bundle, I received the popular, retro, gravity-twisting VVVVVV by Terry Cavanagh. The game is set some time in the distant future when space flight and teleportation are possible, and challenges players to rescue the members of their team that have been scattered across the game world.

VVVVVV can be loosely described a 2D platformer. I say that because, though it technically falls into that category, it is largely unlike the typical platformer design. The player is unable to jump, but may rather reverse gravity at any time, as long as he is on the, er… “ground.” The entire gameplay design revolves around this feature and the maker has done a great job of designing a variety of levels that challenge the player’s use of it in different ways. It uses a “learn by dying” mechanic that I’m not a big fan of, but it places you back in a safe spot immediately so your game experience is hardly interrupted. I should also mention that another of its high points is music – along with its visual and other design, the music is well done and wonderfully retro. It’s a little short for a full game and I finished it in about two hours, but especially as part of a bundle or other deal, it’s worth it. It’s definitely a rewarding and interesting experience, and I think you’ll find yourself happy you played it.

Let us know what you think of the game and the review in the comments!

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Fruit Ninja Kinect Review

August 19, 2011 1 comment

It took a little while for me to get around to writing this review for Fruit Ninja Kinect. There is a very good reason for that, which is… I was playing Fruit Ninja Kinect. That is to say, it’s fun.

Fruit Ninja Kinect is the first Xbox Live Arcade game to utilize the Kinect motion sensor. The basic premise of the game is to use your hands to slice various fruits that are tossed momentarily onto the screen, in the style of a ninja (hence the name). There are 5 game modes, including two “Party” two-player modes, each of which offers a unique spin on the core game principals. Because of the lack of story or campaign mode, this isn’t the type of game you would play for especially long periods, but that’s okay, because until you’re a veteran fruit ninja, your shoulders might hurt if you try (I know this from experience). It also includes a neat social element which shows a recent high score from a friend and challenges you to beat it. The entire Fruit Ninja Kinect experience is satisfying on a somewhat visceral level and even if you’re not playing at a given moment, it’s really fun to watch, making it a great party game.

The game is not without its drawbacks, however. In the multiplayer party modes, the two simultaneous players stand in fairly close proximity. In other Kinect games, this is not so much of an issue, but the wide arm-flinging of this title can lead to some collisions, so take special care. There are also some aggravating bugs that crop up from time to time, but as the game has been available for a mere 9 days at time of this writing, I’m not terribly upset, and I will hope that a patch is forthcoming.

Overall, I’m happy with the purchase, and I expect Fruit Ninja Kinect will be providing fun around here for some time. What do you think of Fruit Ninja Kinect? Let us know in the comments!

Catching Up

June 30, 2011 Leave a comment

It looks like I have a little catching up to do. To start with, if you haven’t heard that Valve Software’s Portal 2 is an excellent game, let me clear that up for you. Portal 2 is an excellent game. There are more cool puzzle elements, like light bridges and gel and such. It continues and expands the story, contains quality voice acting, has excellent music, and so on. I did notice that the “style” of the puzzle design was a little different, maybe even easier than the first game, but still enjoyable. If you’re on the fence, or if you enjoyed the original Portal, you’ll likely enjoy the sequel.

Next up, Alan Wake is a psychological action thriller by Remedy Entertainment. Why did no one tell me about this game? Simply put, the game is fantastic. When I played through the game, it was like a great book that I couldn’t put down. We need more games like this. It’s got mystery, suspense, intrigue, action. I can’t tell you much of the story without spoiling it for you, so I won’t. The storytelling is a high point for the game, doing one of the best jobs of it, if not the best job, I’ve seen in video games. This includes high talent in writing, voice acting, cut scenes and music. This comes with a special caveat, though: if you play this game without taking the time to take in the details and enjoy the story, you may be disappointed. My advice is to immerse yourself in it as much as you can; watch all of the cinematic cut scenes, listen to the music, follow the story and pay attention to every masterful detail. I think you’ll be glad you did.

What’s your take on Portal 2 and Alan Wake? Got some other fantastic games you think I should be playing and reviewing? Let us know in the comments!

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Revenge of the Titans Review

March 25, 2011 1 comment

Revenge of the Titans is a tower defense game by Puppy Games, which originally released in the Humble Indie Bundle #2, and has recently become available on Steam. The gist of the game is that Earth is being invaded by Titans, which are basically… giant alien cats? In any case, the player is tasked with organizing defenses around various important buildings to ensure Earth’s survival.

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