Thursday, June 28, 2012

Quake 4 Review

Game:  Quake 4
Year (s):  2005
Company:  dev.  Raven Software, under supervision of id Software
pub.  Activision
Engine:  id Tech 4
Type:  First-Person Shooter
Metacritic Score:  81
My Score:  Average, with a side of graphic violence.

Price (as of  June 28, 2012)

Regular price on Steam:  $19.99
Lowest Buy-It-Now on eBay (unopened, with shipping):  $29.99

Game Time:  the expected 10-14 hours

Obligatory Trailer:


Quake 4 is a direct sequel to Quake II.  Some events of the previous protagonist are mentioned as your squad of space marines jets to the Strogg homeworld.  As before, humanity is in a desperate war to survive against the cybernetic Strogg forces.  Many weapons and enemies return from Quake II, as well as some of the look and sound.

Quake 4 is built using the id Tech 4 engine, and showcases some improvements over Doom 3.  There are outdoor areas, and the flashlight is attached to two of your weapons.  Vehicles have been added, and some degree of cinematic flair.  Stop motion technology was utilized.


Shoot stuff, don't get shot, and push a button occassionally.  At a few points combat is frustratingly hard, but the pace of the game hits pretty solid.  The only downer: no running.  The player is helped by other marines along the way; some expendable, some invincible.  Partway into the game, the player becomes partially Stroggified, increasing max health and armor by 25% and slightly increasing movement speed.

Quake 4 generally substitutes the jump scares and brooding darkness of Doom 3 for straight-up action.  There are still horror elements, and the engine showcases intense gore, violence, and a more realistic-looking (and therefore more disturbing) vision of the Strogg.

Multiplayer is arena style like Quake 3, but regresses by having no bots.

Expansions / DLC / Sequels

No news on further Quake to date, but id's convention is still titled QuakeCon.  I am going to blindly guess that after Doom 4 and Rage 2 are done, Quake may be revisited.

I have the Special DVD Edition, which includes promotional material, Quake II, and both Quake II expansions.

Final Thoughts

The Good:  Quake 4 gives a serious facelift to the franchise, while also addressing complaints about Doom 3.

The Bad:  Shorter than Doom 3, and didn't age as well.

The Verdict:  When it was released, Quake 4 was good but not stellar.  Nowadays, there isn't any reason to buy it unless you loved Quake II.  

Monday, June 25, 2012

Sanctum Review

Game:  Sanctum
Year (s):  2011
Company:  dev.  Coffee Stain Studios
pub.  Valve Corp (Steam)
Engine:  Unreal Engine 3
Type:  First-Person Shooter Tower Defense
Metacritic Score:  71
My Score:  *yawn*

Price (as of  June 21, 2012)

Regular price on Steam:  $9.99
Lowest Buy-It-Now on eBay (new, with shipping):  Not Available

Game Time:  from ten hours to eternity

Obligatory Trailer:


Kill aliens before they reach the core!


Sanctum won two fourth-place awards in the 2009 Make Something Unreal contest.  If I think of it purely as a game mod, it's innovative.  If I actually look at it, it's ugly.  Simple textures, cartoonish characters, and polygonal structures look like Unreal Engine 2, not Unreal Engine 3.


Tower defense is a small genre that I first saw in Warcraft 3 (mostly in custom maps), and more recently in Plants vs. Zombies and Defense Grid.  The premise is simple: waves of enemies are after your core (or other central location), which they will damage.  They typically won't attack anything else.  The player builds towers to attack the enemies and block a straight path to the core.

Sanctum happily satisfies that, providing various grids to arrange your mazes of towers by.  Each tower has a use.  Sanctum adds a first-person shooter aspect to the mix, with a handful of basic weapons.  Both weapons and towers can be upgraded.


The music in the game is a highlight, and is most easily compared to This Will Destroy You.  The music isn't good for all occasions, but has it's moments.  Most game soundtracks aren't even worth mentioning.

Expansions / DLC / Sequels

There are a handful of DLC, most of which cost money.  These includes new levels, new weapons, and the official soundtrack in both MP3 and .wav formats.  Including the DLC, there are ten levels.

Final Thoughts

The Bad:  This game looks like crap, and fails to teach the player basic controls and scenarios in which the various towers and weapons excel.  The game also has no plot, and only features a handful of levels without spending more for DLC.

The Good:  Sometimes I like to play something mindless, and there's some achievements for people that are interested.  The game has an alright soundtrack and is pretty cheap.

Verdict:  This feels like there were no objective play testers as part of the development process.  I wouldn't strongly recommend this one.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Bulletstorm Review

Game:  Bulletstorm
Year (s):  2011
Company:  dev.  People Can Fly, a division of Epic Games
pub.  Electronic Arts
Engine:  Unreal Engine 3.5
Type:  First-Person Shooter
Metacritic Score:  82
My Score:  So fucking awesome it will fucking murder your dick-tits, you douche-dildo.

Price (as of June 8, 2012)

Regular price on Steam:  $19.99
Lowest Buy-It-Now on eBay (new, with shipping):  $8.50

Game Time: ~10 hours for the campaign, first time on default

Obligatory Trailer:


Grayson "Gray" Hunt and his team were the premier death squad of General Serrano.  On one mission, they find out their targets were civilians.  Gray then leads his team, over a course of years and alcoholism, in a crusade against Serrano.  This crusade leaves Gray, Serrano, and a few others stranded on what was a tourist planet,now turned savage from radiation.

People Can Fly, and Profanity

People Can Fly was on my shitlist.  Painkiller (by the time I played it) was buggy and dated.  They were bought by Epic afterwards, and have redeemed themselves.  The language in this game is extremely profane.  So profane that it is laughable, and at times, nonsensical.  Part of this is due to the fact that People Can Fly are Polish, and didn't fully understand the impact of the language used.


I'm getting tired of seeing Unreal Engine 3.X, but it's still viable and solid.  I hit only one minor glitch.

Bulletstorm uses Games For Windows Live (GFWL).  I have had problems with this before, but on launch I was logged-in automatically and everything ran fine.  There are GFWL trophies that can be earned, but no achievements on Steam.


Most of the weapons are standard, with a few creative ones thrown in.  They are all fun to use.  Weapons have primary ammo and super-powerful charge shot ammo.  Additionally you can kick enemies or draw them closer with a lasso-like tool.

Points are rewarded by merit.  Standard shots are worth little, but creative death methods are worth more.  Impale a man on a cactus.  Kill someone that's on fire while you're intoxicated.  Go on, earn it.

In the campaign, points are used to buy weapon upgrades and ammo.  In the Echo game type, points are a way to measure skill against other players on the leaderboards.  

Voice Actors

Steve Blum is the main character.  He's a busy man, and you'll recognize him from Rage, Half-Life 2, or any number of other projects.  Jennifer Hale plays Trishka (her voice sounds familiar; she's done a lot of different things).

Expansions / DLC / Sequels

Two DLC have been released, neither of which add much.  For PC, these are only available through GFWL Marketplace.

A sequel was planned, but unfortunately cancelled.  Epic stated piracy and a poorer review for the PC version as reasons.  Epic further said that it sold well (over one millions copies) but not amazing, and that People Can Fly has been assigned to a project that is a better fit.

Final Thoughts

The Good:  It's rare that a shooter is this much pure fun, or will make you laugh out loud.

The Bad:  It is what is now the standard length for the genre, with no legacy.  Multiplayer is co-op only.

The Verdict:  This game is hilarious, fast-paced, and chock-full of sheer badassery.  I recommend it.