Monday, March 26, 2012

Dead Space 2 Review

Game:  Dead Space 2
Year (s):  2011
Company:  dev.  Visceral Games
            pub.  Electronic Arts
Engine:  Visceral Engine
Type:  Third-Person Shooter, Survival-Horror

Price (as of March 23, 2012)

Regular price on Steam:  $19.99
Lowest Buy-It-Now on eBay (new, with shipping):  $10.99

Game Time:  11 hours, first play, on normal

See Also: 
Dead Space Review

Obligatory Trailer:

Plot and Gameplay

Three years have passed since the events in the first game.  Isaac Clarke wakes up in a straight jacket, with no idea where he is.  Immediately, Necromorphs attack.  Isaac must battle the Necromorph aliens, religious zealots, and people affected by The Marker once again in order to survive and escape.  And in the process, he just might find some peace. 

All of the gameplay elements game return, with a few minor adjustments.  The only new mechanic is hacking, which doesn't come up too often.  There are a few new enemies, and a few new weapons.  The game seems a little easier and a little darker, but every bit a gory as the original. 

Unlike the first installment, Isaac is no longer a faceless, voiceless character.  Dead Space 2 adds multiplayer game types to the franchise.  

Visceral Engine

Dead Space 2 runs on Visceral Engine, where the first Dead Space used The Godfather engine with Havok physics.  All that being said, it looks just like the first game (graphics roughly comparable to id Tech 4). 

Expansions / DLC / Sequels

DLC in the form of bonus suits and weapons are a free patch on the PC version.  A map pack, as well as a short single-player campaign, are only available on the console versions.

Dead Space 3 has not been officially announced, but rumors about the setting and story events litter the internet.

Final Thoughts
Dead Space 2 is, for the most part, more of the same.  I like the series well enough, but I feel the first game really stood out in a way this one does not.  I recommend playing Dead Space.  If you like that, you'll enjoy Dead Space 2.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

Game:  Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
Year (s):  2007
Company:  dev.  Infinity Ward
            pub.  Activisiion
Engine:  IW engine 3.0
Type:  First-Person Shooter

Price (as of March 12, 2012)

Regular price on Steam:  $19.99
Lowest Buy-It-Now on eBay (new, with shipping):  $13

Game Time:  11 hours, first time, on hard

Obligatory Trailer:


The Cold War taught us that Russians are the enemy, and we learned from terrorism that the middle east is full of bad guys, too.  In Call of Duty 4, you alternate  missions between American and British special forces, shooting both Russian and Arab "ultranationalists."  Yee-haw.

Infinity Ward and IW engine

Infinity Ward was started in 2002 by a team of programmers that had been working on a Medal of Honor game.  Everything in the Infinity Ward portfolio is a Call of Duty title. 

The IW engine has been used in multiple Call of Duty titles, as well as James Bond games.  It's built on GtkRadiant (a free map-editor from id, originally used in Quake 3).  IW has been modified for other COD titles; the newest runs on IW engine 4.0.  Graphically, IW is comparable to other games released around 2007.


This may be the franchise that popularized the , "taking cover briefly cures bullet wounds" mechanic.  Unless there is a story-based reason for this mechanic (magic, technology, it doesn't take much) I think it's ridiculous. 

Generally, you crawl from cover to cover.  Haste or exposure lead to a quick death.  Your squad follows you, and they are invincible.  You must keep pushing forward, or the enemies seem to just keep coming.  Parts of the game are on a timer.  When it's not stupid easy, the game is a pain in the ass. 

The player can carry two guns at a time, including one pistol, two identical sniper rifles, and half a dozen very similar automatic rifles.  One level has the player be an aerial gunner, and segments of other levels have turret-based gameplay.  These segments are a nice distraction, but brief, and at no point does the player pilot a vehicle.

This Game Is Popular

Modern Warfare has more than 90% on metacritic, and was highly acclaimed by multiple publications.  Awards include best graphics of E3 2007. best shooter of the year, game of the year, best story, best shooter ever... the critics loved it.

I don't know why.  2007 brought us BioShock, Crysis, Half-Life 2: Episode 2, and Unreal Tournament 3.  These all have lusher environments, actually have plots, and (except for Episode 2) have a longer single-player campaign.  These alternatives offer more diverse and enjoyable gameplay experiences.  Even at their worst points, I prefer them to Call of Duty 4's finest moments..   

Expansions / DLC / Sequels

Call of Duty is a big franchise, with lots of titles and expansions (more than I care to list).  This particular game has no expansion content.  

Final Thoughts

So, there's a tank level.  You and a handful of infantry kill lots of Arabs while escorting the weak, defenseless tank.  No, you can't drive the tank.  Wonderful!  And yet, this was the highest-selling game of 2007, and has sold over 13 million copies across all platforms to date.  Lots of people love this game.  I think it's a pretty stupid game, which fails to engage or impress the player to any height of entertainment.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Quickflicker Deck

60 Card Format
Green, (Black, Blue, Red, White)

4 Elvish Piper
4 Quicksilver Amulet
4 Defense of the Heart

3 Angel of Despair
2 Woodfall Primus
3 Rune-Scarred Demon
2 Hamletback Goliath
1 Sedris, the Traitor King

4 Mistmeadow Witch
2 Flicker
2 Followed Footsteps

4 Birds of Paradise
4 Utopia Tree
1 Land Grant


Multicolor Lands
2 Safe Haven

WIN METHOD: Damage- Creatures


This is a spin on the Quicksilver Amulet/Elvish Piper + Big Creatures deck, modified to abuse "enters the battlefield" creature effects.  This is the current deck, but it hasn't been played yet.