Sunday, 26 August 2012

FemShep rules!

Guys imagine this. You are an avid gamer. You love to complete the campaign and then fully embrace the multi-player, often spending more time on that than you do the campaign. It feels good right? Then imagine having to do that and in around 80% of the games you are absolutely, inexplicably forced to play as the opposite sex. Not as good? Well that’s how it is for us ‘Girl Gamers’ and it sucks.

Many new open-world RPG games have embraced female avatars brilliantly, with just as much availability to morph your character into whatever you want as the male counterparts get. I spent 100+ hours on games like Fallout 3 and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion with my female adventurer, and I absolutely loved being able to be me (albeit a MUCH improved version of me, if I ever saw a Deathclaw in real life I can guarantee I wouldn’t run up to it with a Powerfist!).  For me being able to play as a female is very important, and if I’m honest I don’t think it’s just because I want to play as a female, sometimes I still choose males. But it’s nice to have the choice.

Mass Effect has always been another that has great customisation for both sexes. Some NPC's did still address me as a male, but I didn't care!! I was saving the galaxy as my kick-ass FemShep! And with the release of Mass Effect 3 the publishers addressed all us hard done by FemShep users by giving us an interchangeable cover! Now that's showing us some love, and it was greatly appreciated.

The main place this choice is lacking is FPS’s. Females can serve in the Army, they can do whatever males can why can’t we play as one in FPS’s? I don’t mean for the campaign’s, it’d just be really nice if developers would acknowledge the female gamers by offering this choice in multiplayer. It would require minimal effort (as far as I’m aware) but would go a long way in the gaming community.  

The game that really wound me up for not giving players this choice is actually ‘Brink’. i bought it on release, and still love the game but why are there no females? Are you telling me there are no female rebels in The Ark? I highly doubt that. Brink is as limited as a lot of the FPS’s out there, you can change the size of the muscles and their load out but not much else. I have to admit I found it incredibly disappointing.

I don’t think there is a logical explanation for why female avatars aren’t included in more games. And it’s time we stood up and spoke about it. Major RPG’s have done it, and it has meant new voice actors, different romance options and different dialogue. I’m only asking for the option of a female to be in the online version of FPS’s (something I think we’ll all agree on, we don’t necessarily need to have female’s in the campaign) so come on developers, get it done!!! 

Sunday, 19 August 2012

DLC - For Love or Profit?

DLC is meant to prolong the longevity of a game, but instead it seems more and more developers are releasing downloadable content that should have been included in the retail version.

Personally I LOVE DLC. I have spent a hell of a lot of money on all the DLC packs for, amongst many others, Mass Effect 1 & 2, Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas, Dragon Age: Origins, Gears of War 1 & 2, Borderlands and various Call of Duty games. I have also spent a small fortune on my Rock Band, Guitar Hero and Lips music libraries. I have no aversion to developers bringing out DLC - in fact I embrace it. I love that they are making it possible for us to go back to a game we’d completed and have something new to do, even a year after the release. 

Worth the extra 1200MSP??
But I think that should be the purpose of DLC. DLC should be an optional increase to an already amazing game. I feel there are some developers who are releasing below par games with the view to releasing a few DLC packs to cash in. Take the Call of Duty franchise for example. The games that include Zombie mode only include 1 map for the game mode. Now I am aware that Zombies isn’t the main focus for these games but if you are going to include something in a game I don’t think it should be half-assed, and to me that is what Zombies mode feels like. Particularly in the first CoD game to include this mode, Call of Duty: World at War. This zombie map basically saw players put in a hut and told to survive. There were none of the perks, machines or the desperate run to turn on the power. There was no long slog to learn the map. It was as basic as it could get so of course when DLC packs were released that promised fun by the bucket-load we all jumped at it and didn’t think twice about the extra 1200MSP spent. Our appetite for zombie annihilation was sated, for a while at least. But more and more DLC was released and we kept on buying. Overall how much have you spent on a CoD game? And after all that money, does it feel like a game with extras, or just a complete retail release? If you have bought all the map packs for CoD: Black Ops up to now you have spent £70/$105 on this game, would you have paid that for the disc in store? Somehow I doubt a game priced that high would do as well.

Resident Evil 5 was also a culprit. Capcom went as far as to release multiplayer DLC soon after retail release. The DLC was announced BEFORE the release of the game and included the games only online VS multiplayer. 400MSP saw players able to take the Mercenaries mode online and fight in 5 different modes, Slayers, Survivors, Team Slayers, Team Survivors and Versus. Surely this is something that should have been included in a $60/£40 game?

DLC is an amazing way to prolong the enjoyment gleaned from a game. I completed Mass Effect 2 last year but when ‘The Arrival’ DLC was released I was as excited as I had been when playing the game for the first time. That to me is what DLC should be. Improving an already amazing game. Not making a game complete at an extra cost.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Dust: An Elysian Tail Review

Today I was given the chance to review Humble Hearts new offering Dust: An Elysian Tail and what an opportunity that was!

The game has an intriguing quality from the very start, with it's enchanting menu music and beautiful graphics being showcased. The music is all so relaxing, a stark contrast to the intense action once the game starts going. From the beginning it all feels very JRPG, the menu noises are very akin to something you would hear in a Final Fantasy game, which made me feel very nostalgic for the nineties games!

Of course this is a game for all ages. The HD graphics are beautiful and really make this game stand out amongst the other games released this year. But strip it down to it's core and this game is fundamentally a 2D side-scrolling platformer with some RPG elements.

Control-wise this game is amazing. Your character Dust is a very able swordsman, who you can move about with ease. The movement is all very natural and just feels right. The menu system is smooth, as is the bartering system, allowing you to switch between buying and selling items with a press of a button.

Dust waking up
The storyline, whilst not a new idea, is still intriguing. I don't want to spoil the story for you so I'll give you a quick overview. The beginning of the game sees Dust, the main protagonist, wake in a beautiful glade. He can't remember anything about himself. Ahrah then makes himself known, a helpful sword that comes with a useful but annoying sidekick/guardian Fidget. Ahrah guides you on your quest, first pointing you towards the next village to try and find the truth of your identity.

The combat in this game really shines. I have a feeling that this is going to be a game that's 'easy to beat, difficult to master' Yes you could just button bash your way through the smaller groups of enemies, but this will not get you far with the bosses, and you may struggle with the larger groups. The key to the combat in this game is using the combos to build up a massive hit count which results in bonus battle experience. Enemies respawn when you enter back into an area, something I think is good for levelling up etc.

The BEST thing for me about the combat in this game though is that coin and goodies are dropped where you actually dealt the final death blow, not where the enemy landed. This may seem like a small thing to mention, but when you play a lot of games with enemy drops, there are only few that do it this way, most choose to do the drop where the enemy lands, leading to you running back and forth for all the loot.

Around the land you will find hidden treasure chests, for which you need a key. You can collect these keys around the world and even buy them in the shops. The chests don't have a certain corresponding key, something which left me quite relieved, and upon putting the key into the chest a little mini-game comes up which is quite innovative, where you have to enter a button sequence before the time runs out.

There are very few things I have disliked about this game. If I was to nitpick I would say that the voice-acting can be quite 'hammy' in places. The dialogue pops up over the action, which did start to annoy me after awhile. When it comes to improving Dust's abilities there isn't much choice and it is quite a linear system.

Overall this game would be a great addition to anyones game collection. The game world is beautiful with a vast array of wonderful characters to interact with. The controls are really well-executed and the story is intriguing enough. The fact that this game was the result of just one mans imagination is amazing.


                                      9/10 BUY IT!    

A code was provided for the purpose of this review.

Hi Everyone!

My name is Danielle and I’m a 24 year-old student from Manchester, England. I’ve been given the opportunity to write about one of my main passions in life…gaming! And I can’t wait! I’ve been a ‘gamer’ since I was about 4 when my parents bought a Sega Mega Drive and from that moment I was hooked. Sonic was my childhood, I played it all the time, even managing to get my techno-phobe mum addicted. Thankfully gaming has progressed massively since then and luckily enough my dad was always keeping on top of the consoles released so growing up we had every console pass through our house. When I was 13 I started my own personal collection of consoles. It started with the Gamecube, mainly just because my little brother wanted one and I wanted to beat him to it. I played Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker to death and it is still one of my most loved games despite it’s flaws. Graphically the Gamecube never quite did it for me so I soon progressed and in a short amount of time I ended up with a PS2, XBox, PSP and a DS (the big old silver one, I’m pretty sure it’s still hanging around here somewhere!).
Anyway long story short at one point I ended up owning all of the main consoles by the time the next generation was coming out. The improved graphics, immersive stories and online playing got me even more hooked and I haven’t looked back since. I cannot imagine not having games in my life, which is, unfortunately, a great disappointment to my mother.
I have to admit that for many years I looked past the FPS genre, preferring RPG’s, racing or general simulation games. The first time I picked up an FPS was in 2008 and it was Halo 3. A game I had heard a lot of hype about and it served it’s purpose in that it brought me to love FPS’s but unfortunately I could not come to love Halo. For me the physics in it are all a little arcade-y.
My current set-up (with which I am very happy with) is a 47inch LCD TV with PS3, XBox 360 Elite with Kinect. I also own a Mac and a PC (although I’m still yet to go past simulation games on these) a 3DS and a Windows Phone. I love playing any games I can get my hands on, be it a free download on the Xbox or phone or a massively hyped release on the PS3. My main console is the Xbox, I love it dearly and have cultivated my new account Dannie Kitten in the last year to what I feel is an impressive Gamerscore of 45000 ish. It’s not brilliant by any means, but it’s mine and I’m proud of it.