Thursday, 22 November 2012

Red Johnson's Chronicles: One Against All (XBLA) Review

This is a game I hadn't heard much about until it was almost release day. I immediately contacted the devs in anticipation of what I believed would be an amazing game! I have long been a lover of point and click adventure/puzzler games and some of my favourite games of all time are the Broken Sword games. In my head I imagined Red Johnson to be something like that, and it was in parts but unfortunately in others it really fell down.

The graphics are amazing there are some really good character design and settings. The music is good as well, it really brings you in to the 'noir' feel of the game.

Now I mentioned the character designs are good and they do look spectacular. But one of my very petty niggles with this game is that the characters are so unoriginal! Red Johnson is a red head pretty boy...doesn't sound too bad right? But later you meet his brothers, Black and Brown and you'll never guess...but they have Black and Brown hair respectively *groan*.

As I said that is a pretty petty thing to be annoyed about with a game so I'll get on to some of the more important negatives of this game. The graphics are great for all the places that Red visits but there is something missing...any movement WHATSOEVER! The game moves between static screen and static screen which all becomes very tiresome. The loading times are pretty ridiculous too to be honest. Once you click on a puzzle in the area it has to load again for what seems like ages and then this is where my biggest problem with this game makes it's appearance...once you have entered into a puzzle you CANNOT back out until it is COMPLETE! I find this a really ridiculous outdated way of making sure you stick around to complete. It makes the game impossible to pick up for twenty minutes or so because once you're in a puzzle the only option is to quit out and lose your progress. Really, really annoying.

To be honest this game doesn't seem to do much right. The quick-time events feel forced and pretty tedious, as does most of the dialogue and some of the puzzles. There just doesn't seem to be much sense to the game, which isn't always a bad thing but with a point and click adventure I do feel that it is pretty much necessary. The game falls on it's ass pretty much every time it tries to be funny too, really not good in this game genre.

There are some good points though. Some of the puzzles are very clever and if you have plenty of time then the not being able to back out and come back later won't really bother you. Also you shouldn't really ever get stuck thanks to the in-game hints system which sees you buy hints to help you progress with the puzzle. The game is only 800MSP and you do get a lot of game for that so if you are into puzzler point and clicks go for it, you'll probably enjoy it. If you have already played the Red Johnson game that was released on PSN awhile back, apparently you shouldn't bother with this one. I never played that one but reports suggest that this game is pretty much regurgitated puzzles from that game.

Overall whilst I wouldn't say I particularly enjoyed this game, it wasn't that terrible either. Worth a try!

5/10 TRY IT!
A code was provided for the purpose of this review. 

Friday, 16 November 2012

Snops Attack! Zombie Defense (XBLIG) Review

Snops Attack! Zombie Defense is out now for the very fair price of 240MSP. Find it on the XBLIG Marketplace!

Snops Attack! is a vertical-scrolling bullet frenzy that sees you fighting against wave after wave of zombie cats and their alien friends. So what do we do when Zombie cats are attacking? Send in an extremely cute Lhasa Apso of course!
When I first heard about this game I thought it sounded a little bit mental...but mental in a good way. It turns out that this game is mental in a GREAT way!
The visuals are stunning, we're honestly not losing anything by it being a 2D game it really does look beautiful. And best of all I never noticed any lag or dodgy graphics when the screen was absolutely full of enemies, flashing guns etc etc. It handled really well where a lot of games may have struggled.
The music is really fun too. Overall it all comes together to just make for a simple fun experience.

The controls are easy to master, the game however is not which gives it longevity. After each wave of zombiefied cats there is a huge variant of one of the enemies that acts as the boss for that level. I found the first few of these pretty easy but the games does get pretty difficult. Not so difficult that you start hating the game though, just difficult enough that you'll keep picking it up to try and get further!
If this had had a few more features I believe this could easily have been a lower priced XBLA Game. It's the type of game that first attracted me to XBLA and XBLIG titles, fun, simple, pick up and play action. Everyone should try it out!

8/10 BUY IT!
A code was provided for the purpose of this review.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Little Kingdom Advanced (XBLIG) Review

 Little Kingdom Advanced is available now on the XBLIG Marketplace for 80MSP.

Little Kingdom is a 'peaceful land without war or battle'. The objective of the game (although not immediately apparent due to a HUGE lack of tutorial) is to overcome everyone else on the board and take over the land. From what I could grasp of the game you do this by placing towers EVERYWHERE to have influence over more land. After reading up on this game online I found that you can upgrade buildings to increase your range, but the game never made this particularly clear.
I'll be honest, I was pretty excited about this game. I love games like Risk Civilization and have recently downloaded Carcassonne to try my hand at. In my mind this game was in the same genre as these, which meant that I should have loved it.
I didn't. In fact I kind of hated it. On opening the game, I did find it appealing. The art style is quite cute, and the menu graphics are pretty good. The music is alright, not teeth-grindingly annoying like some games.
Then it all fell apart on starting the game. You're thrown straight into the game where the AI is already way ahead of you placing zillions of towers. After getting to grips with how to do this, I immediately started placing towers everywhere too. Then I ran out of money. Awesome. There is a price increase with every tower placed.
After about five minutes of placing towers I was starting to get annoyed. The game seemed nowhere near ending, every step ahead I got in the next minute the AI would leave me in it's dust. The AI is incessant in this game. It is the most competitive AI I have ever met!
By this point I was bored and seriously cursing whoever decided to not put a tutorial in. It's annoying. I don't need everything spoon fed to me but basics would be good.
The game lacks purpose, direction and above all a fun-factor. It drags on and on and even when playing with my friends locally (there is no online support) it just wasn't fun. In my opinion this game is a definite miss.
2/10 SKIP IT!
A code was provided for the purpose of this review.

Death Orb Wars (XBLIG) Review

Death Orb Wars is out now on the XBLIG Marketplace and is available for just 80MSP.

Reading the description on this game, it sounds like a lot of fun. In practice after about three or four attempts it just feels tedious.

The graphics are pretty good. Nothing mind-blowing but not so bad that they cause you to turn off. Music was ok too, but again nothing earth-shattering, a common theme in this game.
This game relies on movement. You have to dodge the orbs coming at you from every direction. So for a game that relies so heavily on movement you'd expect pretty fluid handling, right? Not so much with this game. It feels pretty clunky. Also (as far as I could see) there is no force feedback, making you pretty unaware of whether you're being hit. I had one particular round I thought I was doing pretty well at, as far as I could see I wasn't being hit. And then I died. Huh.

In my opinion this game isn't innovative enough to be considered a must-buy. Yes, not all games on my must-buy list are new ideas, but they are good at what they're doing. This game just isn't that good. It is only 80MSP so it's not too much money too waste, but still I don't really see anyone playing this game for more than an hour, if that.
3/10 SKIP IT!
A code was provided for the purpose of this review.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Video Games as Story-Tellers.

It's been a bug bear of mine for quite awhile. Maybe I'm subject to this opinion more often than males because I'm a female. I know my mum certainly doesn't understand it. Whenever she phones and I inform her she has interrupted a marathon Xbox session there is this uncomfortable silence. But there is something about Video Games that get some people (particularly in the older generations I've found) really riled up.

For example, think of all the bad things that have happened in recent years. Shootings etc. How many of these were blamed on video games, in particular Grand Theft Auto. I know a fair amount are attributed to films and music as well, but come on it's all ridiculous. How many people can honestly say after stealing a car on GTA they want to go out and replicate the act on real streets? In my opinion there was something wrong there before they played a violent game so blaming it on an entertainment device is just daft.

Parents now blame consoles for their children being over-weight and anti-social. But isn't this more down to the way they are parenting? Surely if they were putting in the effort to get their kids out and about this would change. Growing up we had all the major consoles and hand-helds. We were limited to an hour a night each on them. We went to the park or the cinemas or whatever at weekends and played out with our friends. Gaming sessions were spent as a family in the living room, all helping to complete the game. Nowadays kids are stuck in front of a TV in the hope of having a quiet easy life. Well I have news for you, being a parent isn't easy and it shouldn't be!

People are saying things like 'Oh they should be reading books like we did' and saying that children lack imagination. How do they? Why do people think video games stifle imagination? Surely they can be seen as a way of unlocking imagination. My three year old son has always been around games and is currently addicted to Sonic the Hedgehog, something he has taken over to his imaginative play time. Games can totally entrap you, they're emotional, they're imaginative and they are great story-telling devices.

Yes parents should cap the amount of time children spend sat in front of a screen not communicating, but as with everything in life, it's about controlling it, not doing it excessively to the point it's ruining your life.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Resistor (XBLIG) Review

Resistor is available now on the XBLIG Marketplace for 80MSP.

This game seems like an ok, original idea for a game. You have to connect the bits to conduct the correct electrical flow. In theory this game could have been pretty good. There isn't really any other game like it. In practice however the game feels pretty stale.
The game features 90 levels, something which sounded like a positive. But it is 90 levels of doing the same thing over and over again. There just doesn't feel like much of a point to it. I know that that isn't always the most important thing when playing a game, but when a game is lacking much else it does start to feel like a chore.
Overall I don't feel that you'd be missing out by not getting this game. It is only 80MSP which as I've said before does give a game an extra point for value. But I'm unsure as to how much this game is worth.

4/10 SKIP IT!
A code was provided for the purpose of this review. 

Saturday, 3 November 2012

XenoMiner (XBLIG) Review

XenoMiner was another of the games featured in the Indie Games Uprising III. It costs a measly 80MSP.
XenoMiner is a voxel-based sandbox game akin to Minecraft and a million other copycats. But this game is actually different. It has taken what makes Minecraft so addictive and put it in space.
There is no denying this game is beautiful to look at. Start it up and you are greeted by an AI called Dai-Se (Daisy) who will very kindly introduce you to the basics of the game. Ten minutes in and you're left to your own devices. I found this fine, having sunk many hours into Minecraft, I got the basic jist of things, but I can see that this tutorial may not be enough for everyone.
Not only have they taken us to space but they have also given the basic Minecraft idea a STORY and an ultimate goal! Albeit a rather brief story, but nevertheless it's there. You are the lone survivor of a crash and have lost your memory. You must, first and foremost, survive. This means keeping a close eye on oxygen levels and your battery power. You will need SO much ice, to convert to oxygen to refill your tank. You will also need to build plenty of AI cores to increase your crafting ability, or processor power. This processor power, once leveled up gives you more options to build.
There is no enemy in this game, no creeper-like dudes to blow up all your good work. You just have to look out for yourself. Radiation is a problem, so keep yourself hidden from the planet's sun and you'll be fine. Radiation works very much like in Fallout in that the longer you spend in a radiated area the more radiation damage you will take. It can be treated though through crafting. It is easy to make Radiation a non-problem, just build yourself a shelter and do all your mining down. If you do have to go out, do it at night. The light on your tool makes this pretty easy.
This game requires a HUGE amount of time to feel like you're getting anywhere. And it seems to be missing something. I can't even put my finger on it, but having spent hundreds of hours on Minecraft and losing track of time, I expected to feel the same about this game. I don't. This game makes you FEEL like you're sinking all of your life into it, for very little gain. If you have never tired of Minecraft and are looking for an absolute bargain this is a definite buy. No-one can argue the value-for-money aspect seen here. But I don't think this is a must-buy for everyone.

6/10 TRY IT!

Smooth Operators (XBLIG) Review

Smooth Operators was released during the Indie Games Uprising III for the very tiny price of 80MSP.
I have to admit to not being too excited when I heard about this game, I didn't really understand how a game where you control an office could be fun, but I was VERY wrong!
I started the game and was greeted with some very catchy music, I was humming it to myself long after I had turned the game off. The tutorial was easy to follow and told you everything you needed to know to run your office. I started the game on normal, not being brave enough to go straight in on hard when I didn't know what to expect. You're given a good amount of money to start your business. The tutorial explains that you have targets, as in a real office, and if you reach them you're awarded but if you don't then you are fined. Not cool! So after a few 'practice' set ups, I set up 'KittenKomms' with plenty of offices, no toilets and no canteens. My workers are going to earn their wage! The first few days I hit target fine and gradually was able to give them the use of some facilities. So everyone ended up happy (ish!).
Each day gives you a new staff unlock. After a few you get a project manager, essential for upgrading and even building beyond a certain point. Account managers get you new contracts so you can expand your business. By this point I was hooked.
I have always been a fan of Sim games. Sims 3 can still keep me playing until I've missed two meals and whatever appointments I had that day. Theme Hospital too. I just never thought an office version would work. But it does, VERY, VERY well. It's an easy game to pick up and play and honestly is a great deal of fun. And at 80MSP it really should be a game that everyone picks up!

9/10 BUY IT!