I don't think this is going to be competitive deck, but it might be amusing. Price of Glory pairs really well with Drain Power, but now that manaburn is gone I have to keep their lands untapped. Thus, Awakening and Turnabout. Pygmy Hippo is the only thing like Drain Power (Piracy doesn't work), but is a wimp and has to be unblockable to be useful. Thus six auras to make it so. This deck is three colors, and I think it will prove to be too complicated to win any multiplayer game. I built it because it looks funny (hippos? really?) and I couldn't come up with a more effective way to abuse Price of Glory.
Price of Glory Pygmy Hippo
Blue, Green, Red
4 Price of glory
4 Rhystic study
4 Pygmy Hippo
4 Drain Power
4 Aqueous Form
2 Cloak of Mists
2 Pendrell Mists
1 Fade Away
2 Maze of Ith
4 Rhystic Cave
Monday, December 9, 2013
Games I Liked 2013
I continue my annual posting, late but maybe still in time for the holidays, listing games I've first played in the last year (they may have come out at any time) that I would recommend.
Sam Lake and Remedy Entertainment (creators of Max Payne 1 and 2) bring us a much-inspired game. Alan Wake is a horror-themed shooter with a really cool story that keeps the player guessing. Tongue-in-cheek references are made to The Twilight Zone, Stephen King, and other notable horror works. Note: while Alan Wake is great, the DLC, and American Nightmare pseudo-sequel are not.
Zombies! On an island! Dead Island is an open world hack-'n-slash game, with several different characters and level-up/upgrade options. With side quests, the game has a decent length. The Ryder White DLC takes the story told in the core game and adds a lot of twists that both clarify events and make them far more interesting. This is a good one as far as game time, and it can also be played cooperatively.
Dishonored is set in a steam punk world, and I like steam punk. The player can kill enemies outright, leading to a more difficult game and a darker ending. The player can also sneak, run, hide, and incapacitate foes for a much more rewarding story. Dishonored did a great job of leaving it up to the player, and overall was something a little different than most shooters, and more assecible than most stealthy games.
BRINK has a few different game types, marginally different classes, and a crap-ton of weaopn specialization. I saw things I liked, but the single player campaign didn't quite do enough to encourage me to tell my friends to buy it.
Hard Reset is the first game by Flying Wild Hog. It's all about old-school shooter gameplay, with hordes of enemies and big bosses. Weapon options are wide, and the proprietary engine looked about the same as anything else out there. My only complaints were that the plot didn't make much sense and running wasn't an option. I said in a review that I would look forward to their next game, and now it's out. Shadow Warrior, a remake of a 90's game by 3D Realms, looks right up my alley.
People buy this game because of Kim Swift. She was behind the first Portal, she was on a group that worked on a demo that inspired Portal, and that's a good track record. Quantum Conundrum is a kid-friendly puzzle game with an emphasis on platforming. The puzzle are usually easy, but are at times made frustrating by difficult timing and jumping elements. Quantum Conundrum isn't a bad game at all, but if you're expecting it to be Portal 3 you're going to be disappointed.
Sunday, November 10, 2013
The first Natural Selection was a mod for Half-Life. I never played it, so nothing more to say there.
Natural Selection 2 is available on Steam, and looked like an interesting game for multiplayer because it combines real time strategy and team-oriented shooters. There are two sides, marines and aliens. Most members of a team are grunts, and they move around the map killing enemies, destroying objectives, and building stuff. Their activity generates resources for the individual and for the team.
One member of each team is the commander. They view the map from above, and can use team resources to place buildings, research upgrades, drop health/ammo, et cetera.
Marines are regular shooters. Aliens have a few different forms, with more emphasis on speed, stealth, and maneuverability.
A short tutorial teaches the player how to be a grunt, which isn't too hard to do. Do what the commander says, and otherwise carry on as in any other shooter.
There is no tutorial for being a commander, and that's the downfall of the game. I tried playing with bots, and was forced to be the commander. I had no idea what I should build, or where, nor did I have any idea on how to respond to grunts asking for health and assistance. After five minutes of clicking on a bunch of stuff and being informed I didn't have the resources to do that, I gave up.
Maybe this game was meant for people that played the first and knew what they were doing. I didn't, and the lack of instruction on how to be a commander was asinine. As another downside to this one, loading a level (either the tutorial or my off-line, bots-only map) took at least two minutes.
This game looked like a great idea, and I'm annoyed that I can't play it. It would just take some more tutorials, or a short campaign, to fix this fundamental flaw. Not recommended as it is currently.
Friday, November 8, 2013
At some point a few years back, there were only three Red Faction games (currently there are four). They all had average metacritic scores, and I picked up the bundle for about ten bucks. The first game was definitely dated, buggy, and I had to cheat to beat the last level. It was also pretty short, so overall I wasn't impressed. The second Red Faction game I plodded through was an easy blah game that was also very short. I had no hurry to play this game, two and a half years after writing a review for the first. This will be brief.
Red Faction was set on Mars, where miners were being worked to death and ultimately rebelled. In Guerrilla, it's the same thing, again, years after the liberation, and also on Mars. That's a lazy start. Graphically, the game looks better than its predecessors, but that's not saying much. The ability to destroy the environment is once again stressed, with many missions involving demotion by any means. Destruction give you scrap, with is used as money. It's satisfying to destroy things, and that's the mindless high point of gameplay.
I didn't play this game very long, because it wasn't compelling. I had missions to kill people, blow up stuff, and drive around, but I hadn't connected with the copy-and-paste characters enough to care. Overall this is an average game, and I won't fault others if they like it. I've played a lot of games, good and bad, and don't want to waste my time with this. I have better games and better things to do.
I have not played the most recent Red Faction game (Red Faction: Armageddon), and I do not intend to. I have heard good things about Saints Row IV, also by Volition. I have not played any Saints Row games. I would not recommend Guerrilla.
Saturday, November 2, 2013
Game: Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon
Year (s): 2013
Company: dev. Ubisoft
Engine: Dunia Engine 2
Metacritic Score: 81
My Score: Not Great, But Good
Price (as of November 2, 2013)
Regular list price on Steam: $14.99
Lowest Buy-It-Now on eBay (digital download): $4.99
My Game Time: 15 hours, completionist
Obligatory Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=av5pqJaIeCk
Plot and Franchise
The plot isn't apparent, or relevant, but goes something like this: After Vietnam War 2's nuclear fallout, you, Rex Power Colt, were brought back to life as a Mark 4 Cyber Commando. You're fighting the ruthless cybernetic Omega Force, as well as prehistoric dragons that shoot lasers.
A parody of 80's action movies, Blood Dragon takes place in the near future of 2007. Music fits the era, Michael Biehn is a main voice actor (Terminator, Aliens), and instead of a loading bar there is a VHS tracking bar.
Ubisoft did a good job being over-the-top, and nailed the 80's action movie feel.
This uses the same engine as Far Cry 3 while completely being a stand-alone product. This has nothing to with with any of the other Far Cry games.
Physics, water effects, nothing new to say here. It didn't crash on me at all. Something to note, you'll have to download Uplay. It's like Steam but for Ubisoft. Redundant with Steam, but necessary and free.
My only complaint was that I couldn't adjust the brightness. They mentioned that you had cyber eyes, so this might have been intentional. Nonetheless, it was hard for me to see at times.
Manual Save? Yes. Sometimes.
Quick Save? No
Area Load Save? Yes
Checkpoint Save? Yes
Blood Dragon has two approaches to combat. The first is to sneak around, and they included silent weapons, distraction, numerous takedowns, and other mechanics to utilize this. I wasn't very good at using their sneak system.
Fortunately, you can always just shoot everything. There are a variety of guns, with most having multiple upgrades (upgrades can be bought after you unlock them through collection quests and side quests). Ammo is pretty cheap, and the leveling system makes the game progressively easier.
Vehicles were present, but I rarely used them because you cannot shoot from the driver's seat. Looting corpses is useful, but very violent (cyber hearts are ripped out because they can be used as grenades).
I like ninja turtels references, cheesy lines, and cyber commandos. It's fun and fresh. The game topped out at 15 hours, but it was cheap. I can't think of anything they did wrong, and I liked the game, but I'm left with the feeling that it was good but could have been great. I'm hoping other developers follow suit here.
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
The other other Ben was looking up some cards and Mentioned Tainted Aether. This reminded me of a crappy deck I once built with Tainted Aether, Spreading Plauge, and Blinking Spirit (it was a beginner's deck, and it didn't work). I hadn't thought of Spreading Plauge in years, but clearly saw the use of it, and had the cards to build a mean muiltiplayer deck built around it. Note: this is intended for 3-4 player type 1.5 free for all, and has not been tested yet.
4 Spreading plague
2 sway of illusion
2 Distorting Lens
4 transguild courier
4 bone hoard
2 Cranial Plating
2 Darksteel Juggernaut
4 Silver Myr
2 Dimir Cluestone
2 Solemn Simulacrum
2 Crystal Chimes
2 Sarpadian Empires, Vol. VII
2 Springjack Pasture
2 Seat of the Synod
2 Vault of Whispers
3 Watery Grave
Monday, October 21, 2013
Game: Quantum Conundrum
Year (s): 2012
Company: dev. Airtight Games
pub. Square Enix
Engine: Unreal Engine 3
Type: Puzzle Platformer
Metacritic Score: 77
My Score: 77
Price (as of October 12, 2013)
Regular list price on Steam: $8.99
Lowest Buy-It-Now on eBay (new, with shipping): $9.99 download only
My Game Time: 10 hours first time (without DLC)
Obligatory Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qg97ZEkqhzE
As a child nephew of a mad scientist, you often spend lengths of time (summers?) at the Quadrangle Mansion. On the most recent visit, Uncle Desmond has been trapped in a pocket dimension, and you have to make your way through the puzzle-room mansion to rescue him.
Kim Swift and a few others worked on a project called Narbacular Drop. This was presented to Valve and became the inspiration for Portal, which Kim worked on. Kim later worked on Left 4 Dead 2 before joining up with Airtight Games, where she led development of Quantum Conundrum. She wanted to make another puzzle game, but wanted it to look distinctly different from Portal to avoid direct comparisons.
Kim Swift left Valve before development began on Portal 2.
Quantum Conundrum gradually introduces the player to four dimensions, only one of which can be activated at one time. Make things lighter, make things heavier/denser, slow time, and reverse gravity. These effects ONLY alter reality for objects; never for the player's body.
Most puzzle are easy to figure out what to do (hints are offered quickly and plentifully), but not always easy to perform. Jumping and timing are, generally, what makes the game tricky. Death isn't too big a deal, as checkpoint saving will respawn you before you fell in a pit or got burned by lasers.
Expansions / DLC / Sequels
2 DLCs were released. Both feature additional puzzle rooms without a story or dialogue that was featured in the main game.
If you like puzzle games, this is better than most of the ones out there. It's perfect for children, teens, parents, and players that don't mind some difficult jumping.
If you're expecting a game as universally loved as Portal/Portal 2, you're not going to find it. Quantum Conundrum is light on plot/purpose, and Uncle Desmond's chuckle-worthy puns aren't as memorable the insanity of GlaDOS.