Sunday, November 10, 2013

Natural Selection 2 Review

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

Red Faction: Guerrilla Review

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

Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon Review

Game: Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon
Year (s): 2013
Company: dev. Ubisoft
pub. Ubisoft
Engine: Dunia Engine 2
Type: Shooter
Viewpoint: First-Person
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:

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.

Save System

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).

Final Thoughts

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.