Monday, 6 February 2012

League of Legends Review

Last summer, whilst talking to some friends about a new game to play, someone (who previously dabbled in a spot of DOTA) brought up the idea of having a go at League of Legends, one of the newer MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) games to hit the free-to-play market. I'm not usually one for PVP-orientated games but this one became a small addiction over a few months and can really suck up time (as one game can last anywhere between 20 minutes and an hour and half.)

After having a few months at this game I feel like I could write quite a bit about this game as it has many, many amazing features and qualities but there are just a few things that let it down.

The graphics in this game, I believe, are superb. While selecting characters (known as Champions) to play, the champion portraits are extremely well drawn and seem to have an amazing attention to detail (for example, here we have Xerath and also here we have Master Yi) and do make excellent wallpapers! Then while in game, the character models and map seems to have a certain cartoon-y feel to them, with the vibrant colours and even adding in small things such as bugs running around on the floor and snakes slithering in and out of the bushes which all just add to the games charm.

The character abilities also have some really nice effects as well, for instance we have the character Ezreal, 'The Prodigal Explorer', and he has an ability named Trueshot Barrage (see here: click). This is where he slowly ascends into the air and a holographic bow appears from his wrist which he proceeds to fire this across the map (literally, it can reach any area on the map, meaning he can hit opponents from the other side if he aims carefully!) And the way this is executed is brilliant, the pixel effects and colours used really go well with the overall cartoon-y feel of the game as a total.

Sound, as a whole, in this game is average. The music is nice at first but after a while the drums that bang before every game get a bit repetitive, so I tend to mute the music and listen to my own, or my friends over Skype. The only thing that stands out in this area is the character interactions you can have while playing the game, such as if you open the chat (by pressing Enter) you can type out a few different things and the character will perform certain moves or actions - such as '/joke'. This makes the character say a comedic sentence or perform a funny action, such as the champion 'Vladimir' (a vampire!) having a joke saying "Go ahead, be negative, you'll be just my type..." connoting that the player has a B- blood type and he is happy to drink his blood!

Other than these character interactions, this game doesn't have much to offer in the way of sound.

This section is not something that can simply be explained in the confines of a blog, you have to play the game and watch live streams of professionals (yes, this is a competitive game, with which professional players can earn a LOT of money) playing the game to really understand how to execute moves and strategies correctly. But because this is a review I will try to explain the simple underlying gameplay qualities.

Essentially the goal of the game is to eliminate the other players' 'Nexus' which is a large crystal in the middle of their base, surrounded by powerful Turrets which attack enemies on sight. This is done by progressively getting stronger and levelling up (you always start at level 1 and aim to reach the level cap in the game which is 18) and also a technique called 'Last-Hitting' which is where you get the last hit on a little creature called 'Minions.' These are team based creatures (a number of them are spawned at both Nexus' every 30 seconds) that automatically attack the enemy on sight and give the killer a certain amount of money when they are eliminated, allowing them to purchase better items in the Shop back at base and gaining an edge over the other team.

There are many, many different ways to 'build' your champion (building is where you purchase different items to achieve different results, such as focusing defensive items to become a damage-absorbing tank, or offensive items to become a hard-hitting damage dealer.) and I don't even fully understand this and neither will anyone unless they get down to the nitty-gritty details of number-crunching, which to me, is very boring.

So truthfully, I don't think I can fully describe all aspects of this games playing styles without making a 20,000+ word dissertation! However if you have played DOTA, or have been playing DOTA 2, then this game should be right up your street.

Unfortunately, I haven't delved into the Lore of League of Legends, but I do believe there is a very extensive storyline behind all of it with all the information on the main LoL website. All I really know is that there is (or was) a war between two factions, Noxus and Demacia, and most of the champions belong to one of those, with a few stranglers here and there.

If you would want to learn all about the lore and history of League of Legends, just click here.

The lasting appeal of this game is huge as the roster of champions to play is constantly expanding (with the free champions being rotated every week, as to consistently use a champion you must purchase it) and recently Riot (the company behind LoL) have released a new game-type named 'Dominion' which I haven't played much of as I do enjoy the classic gameplay style! Also, every game is different because you are against 5 different champions every time, meaning you have to change your tactics to adapt to your environment.

The only problem with this game in terms of lasting appeal (and gameplay) is the community. If you are a bit of a lone-ranger and don't have a lot of game-playing friends (or friends who just don't enjoy MOBA's) then the community may get to you. Unfortunately a large portion of the players just resort to trolling if you make a simple mistake or your team ends up losing the game - which really can get to you. Sometimes I have been playing a game and made a really simple mistake (accidentally not killing an enemy due to a bad decision on my part) and my team will just lay into me with insults and telling me to uninstall the game. Unfortunately this can make you not want to play the game often with randomers, as they all tend to be *ahem* dicks.

Of course that comment shouldn't completely put you off of the game if you were looking to try it because sometimes, you can have REALLY fun games, the ones that are literally hanging on a thread and you really have to give it your all to win, these are the games the real players look forward to.


86 out of 100

This game is very fun, and has a huge fan base (which can sometimes let you down...) and should be tried by everyone who is looking to get into a new game which has unlimited potential! This can literally suck hours away from your day so if you have nothing else to do, give this a try!


Monday, 23 May 2011


This game is an indie game developed by a small amount of people in the XNA Game Studio (provided by Microsoft) in the powerful language of C#. While it’s only been recently made buyable to the world, it has already reached sales of over 50,000 on its first day.

I bought this product on release day and while starting the game you are completely clueless as to what you’re supposed to do (reminiscent of minecraft...) and slowly but surely have been getting more and more into this lovely little sandbox game. To be honest, I had heard this randomly by browsing the internet looking for games to play and eventually, review. Then when I came across this little gem I thought... Hmm... Old-style final fantasy graphics, Minecraft aspects, RPG elements, Bosses, lots of monsters... Seems like my kind of game.

Here is a very subjective aspect of any game... I personally love the old-school 8-bit style graphics of this game and it sort of brings me back to playing Final Fantasy VI and Golden Axe... However it’s not to everyone’s tastes. Unfortunately most modern games rely on the graphics to get people to buy it, like Crysis or Battlefield (not that I’m saying they are bad games... I love them both – but the superb graphics are one of the main selling points.) But despite this I think that the old-school graphics are just part of this games charm. It’s cute yet when you see something like the Eye of Cthulu (a mini-boss that can be summoned or appear at random) it can scare the hell out of you – even though it doesn’t need a £5000 gaming rig your parents bought for you to play.

The sound in this game is what you would expect from an indie game that looks like a old-school game. They aren’t exactly amazing but they do reflect the nature of the game through the sound. The music itself during the daytime (when the monsters are merely slimes on the surface) is bouncy and happy, while the music at night (when zombies, demon eyes and bosses can spawn) is slightly darker and reflects the dangerous atmosphere the night can bring – as when its night time you can hardly see anything coming unless you put some sort of light source outside on your path. The noises of monsters are what you would expect, for skeletons it’s a sound of bones rattling and for slimes it’s a slapping sound as they bounce about. Overall the sound for this game is just what you would expect for it.

The gameplay starts off relatively simple... You build a house around your spawn point, then you go around gathering materials to further enhance your house and surroundings, while also burrowing underground to gather ores for different things such as weapons, pickaxes and armour. However, as you delve deeper into the world of Terraria, lots of things become open to you, such as the Underground Jungle. As the name states – it is a large lush jungle located beneath the ground a few thousand feet. Also if you create more houses and rooms on the surface you attract NPC (non-playable characters) to your ‘village’ such as the Merchant, Nurse and Demolitionist. These all provide different things to you and for the later NPC’s you have to have obtained certain items or defeat certain foes before they appear in your village. Then after (or before) this you can go online onto a hosted server and help out other Terraria owners or build a village with them or go excavating or explore the Dungeon.

However among all this there is one small downside that seems to affect quite a few of the Terraria Population. This is the potential of skipping half the game – which unfortunately I did without realising it. Basically when you reach Gold armour you have just enough defence to venture down to the lowest level of the underworld – hell. Here you can mine a very special ore called Hellstone, and this is used to create one of the best armours in the game. I did this without realising that there is maybe 3 or 4 other armour sets you can get in between gold and Hellstone, and talking to a lot of people on servers, they had as well. Since this game has literally just been released and the owners are still updating this a few times a week I can see them putting in some sort of limitation that will hinder a person’s ability to skip half a game. In light of all this I can still say that... this is such a fun game. There is so much to do, even once you have the end-game armour and weapons you can still find things to do, such as finding floating islands or delving into the chasms in the ‘corruption’ which is essentially where the land has become corrupted and weird monsters spawn there. Also ‘spheres of corruption’ reside there and if you break them open lots of goodies are inside... however, break too many and you will anger something...

As this is a sandbox game, I can’t really comment on the storyline as well... there isn’t any. Don’t let this sway your decision to buy it though... it still is loads of fun!

While I have now reached the end-game armour and I am in the process of collection all of the weapons and other armours, I can still see this game lasting for a long, long time. The developers are constantly updating the game and the community is a friendly one, such as within a day or two of owning the game I have become friends with a server owner and I am now a regular on there. Also I am hoping the developers will be creating more biomes (essentially patches of land, i.e. deserts, forests) and weapons for me to find and collect! I can see myself coming back to this game again and again.


89 out of 100

As a fan of old-school games and graphics this game instantly grabbed me with its look. It is essentially just a game you can go to when there is nothing else to do, but also a game that can hook you for hours on end while you go excavating with friends or by yourself. This seems to be just the break I needed from all the COD-like games that are being shipped out by the dozen right now.


Friday, 20 May 2011


Right, to start off with I have to say, with every interview, coverage and hype this game was getting I was also getting that little bit more excited, it was turning out to be the game I had always wanted... A mix of Mirrors Edge (the parkour/free running aspect), Borderlands (general look and feel of the game) and Team Fortress 2 (the multiplayer aspect.) So this game, before release, was looking to be one of the best games to come out so far on the 360.

The graphics on this game are, simply put, amazing. Every single map has obviously had many hours put into every little aspect, from the ‘graffiti’ in Container City, to the potted plants located around each map. Whether the map is located on the Rebel side or the Security side, you can instantly tell where it is, since each side has its contrasting colours and features. The Rebel maps tend to have a dirty feel to it, with rustic colours, such as deep reds and browns, while the Security maps have a more... pristine feel to them, with everything being slightly more refined, like the edges of walls are not cornered, they are rounded, and the colours of these maps tend to be white, or light-blue.

While, yes, the maps are amazing and the colours do reflect the nature of the inhabitants, this is let down by the slow-loading of textures. Most of the time when you are loading a campaign story map (which always start with a small video to tell you a bit of plot and to help introduce the level) you start off watching a bunch of blurry and hard-to-distinguish shapes on your screen, then over the course of a few seconds, the textures load and you can finally see what you’re meant to see. This doesn’t only happen during these videos, sometimes it happens during gameplay and tends to disrupt the flow of things, since you are not focusing on the task at hand, your thinking “Holy shi... what the hell is that?” and then it turns out to be an enemy loading your face with lead. Now, I’m no game developer so I don’t know whether this problem could of been avoided or not, but I hope some sort of patch comes out for this.

And finally, I have to put a word in about the arsenal and clothing in this game. Each gun you have access to, from the Kross SMG, to the Gotlung Minigun has been expertly modelled and textured and look extraordinary – if you’re on Security forces, the guns texture and colours represent their usual surroundings, clean and pristine. Whereas if you’re on the Rebel forces, they are painted red-brown colours with skulls on them, looking battered and bruised. While the clothing is also expertly designed and coloured, each side has its own unique clothing that reflect their lifestyles and professions well and do help you get a little bit more involved with your character.

When playing BRINK, I can say that yes, the sounds in this game are good (as they were one of the most-hyped aspects of the game pre-release) but I can’t see what the hype was all about – they are good but not the best thing about this game. While yes, the guns all have their individual sounds and the sounds bouncing off the walls while playing this game do make me feel more involved, I believe there are other aspects of this game that deserved a bit more hype than the sound. The music, which is different depending on which side you are playing on, is well thought out and does actually reflect the mood of the force you are sided with at that time, however while I can see that this must’ve taken a long time to think out and create, it isn’t the best thing about this game.

Here is where the game really shines... sometimes, and I’ll get to that in a second... But before that I have to say, when playing offline with AI... just wow. The AI is just... terrible 90% of the time. Let me give you an example... While playing the Rebel side of the campaign, there was some sort of station that needed to be hacked. So, an Operative (a class you can play – works with stealthy and hacking objectives) had to place a hack box on said station and wait with a handheld device until it reached 100%. Now... there were two paths you could take, around a rather large circular fountain, and I decided to go left, while the AI decided to go right... into numerous enemy Turrets, which subsequently filled their soon-to-be-dead bodies with bullets. But did they learn from this mistake and go to the left? No. Over and over again they went that way while the enemy was guarding this station that needed to be hacked. So I used my human brain to figure out the right side was essentially death row and I strut down the left side to find it enemy free. However, as I approached the objective I was greeted by the full force of the enemy’s arsenal and subsequently, died. The AI never realised what they were doing was mass suicide so unfortunately, the mission was left uncompleted and I failed.

It was after this failure I decided to give online a go... And it was a lot better. Not only did my teammates now own a fully functioning human brain, but they could also make rational decisions on how to further the mission correctly without risking other teammates and/or the mission. However, the online mode is plagued with lag spikes – and I know it isn’t a problem with my internet. I’m rolling out 18mb/s down and 8mb/s up here and I am getting lag spikes while playing 360... Something isn’t right here. Fortunately, if you play a little bit longer through the mission online the lag tends to fix itself... As it seems to be connected to the slow texture loading. But nonetheless, the online mode for this game tends to be a lot more helpful and easier when completing missions and levelling up.

And finally, the challenges. Now these are pretty fun, and consist of around 4-5 different tasks with 3 levels of difficulty. These range from a parkour-esque map where you have to go over a number of different pads and return to the start to succeed, to a tower-defence type map where you have to defend a command station from waves of enemies which appear through several different doors on the map armed with only a turret and an explosive mine. These challenges, if completed successfully, unlock different weapons for you and also a lot of different attachments for all of your guns, including under-barrelled grenade launchers aka. Noob tubes. Also speed-slings, allowing for quicker switching between your main weapon and side-arm, plus a few more. These do essentially make the game a bit easier to complete and with the addition of the weapons you can unlock, give you a few more toys to play with.

Well... this is supposed to be one of the games strong points however sometimes I believe it’s hard to understand what’s going on. The videos before a mission do help you understand what is happening but to be honest, I don’t think that is enough. I want some back-story! Some history about this Ark that they are situated on... Yes we all know it was built to house 5000 people and now holds a lot more, and people aren’t allowed to leave, but what about people? Famous figures? Why was it left to rot? Who decided to leave it to rot? These are all questions that could have helped the storyline to be that little bit more engaging; however these are left out, so ultimately we are left with an empty shell of a story. It has all the right features of a good story, two opposing sides fighting for what they think is right, a land that is essentially their battleground, this land is a revolution in technology but was left and abandoned by the rest of the human race. I guess the big question not really answered is just... why? If this was answered well enough by the story, it would not only make the story better, but more engaging, as you can relate to the characters and develop your own unique feelings towards the situation.

This game has all the qualities of a perfect multiplayer game that could last months of gameplay... Even if something is repetitive, it doesn’t matter if it’s fun. However just the overall feel of this game tells me I won’t be playing this for a long time. After the campaign all that is left to do is level up your character and complete the challenges, which would take a couple of weeks at most... There is no point in creating more characters as you can change which side you are on at any point, and also change your body type and weapons after every mission.


65 out of 100

While this game is fun, and has spent up quite a bit of my time I just feel as though it’s lacking in nearly every area... We’ll just have to wait and see at what the patches and DLC can bring us. The first DLC is going to be free of charge so I will be checking that out, and if it’s relatively large I may publish a review on the content. However, if it is just a small DLC such as giving new guns or clothes I may pass on that one...


Saturday, 14 May 2011

Gears of War 3 BETA

Should probably tell you this first... To be brutally honest, I have not been a fan of the Gears of War series. Yes, you did read that right (played the first one marginally, thought it was rather bleak and I personally didn’t get along with the third-person over-the-shoulder perspective. Also played a bit of GoW 2) I thought the BETA for Gears of War 3 was pretty damn enjoyable.

Since starting the BETA on the 18th of April (I had previously ordered Bulletstorm: EPIC Edition, which might I say is one of the funniest and original games I have played, therefore allowing me to access the BETA early) I have been clocking in several hours overall with my friends, dismembering opponents arms and thrashing them on the head with said arm, yes you did hear me right. The BETA itself (at the time of writing) only consisted of two maps and one game type, which kept me sufficiently entertained and helped me keep my mind off of the real world.

Well, what can I say? The 360 just seems to be getting more and more advanced with its graphics as it gets older and older. The detail that has gone into this game at every step is astounding, the detail that has gone into such things as straddling a dying opponent while literally beating seven shades of fecal matter from his slowly disintegrating face is astonishing – it’s like Epic wants you to revel in the pain of your enemies. And you do. A lot.

The mapping and design of the levels has had a lot of thought put into it as well. Every map has its flaws, such as camping spots, but even the maps that do have it in here have been altered to put the abusers at risk. Such as the popular camping spot in the map Thrashball, it has been left out in the open, towards the centre of the map, so even if you are camping there, one small mistake, such as popping your head up over the side, and you are immediately visible to the rest of the map, allowing for easy grenade and headshot kills.

While playing the BETA to this game, some aspects of sound in this game pleased me, while others were just a bit... meh. Don’t get me wrong, the sound of when you charge up to a locust and shove your bayonet into their back is glorious, the general underlay sound was rather lacking. By this I’m talking about the general background noise – there wasn’t enough blood curdling screams or funny remarks from team characters, and when you did hear them you had to be right next to them to understand what they were saying. I must admit though... Cole train does have some funny little remarks.

Now here, for me is where this gets a little bit rough. As not a very huge fan of the prequels, I find myself at a bit of a loss here... While I think the game itself is fantastic, there is something just a little too different in the controls for me to be fully comfortable with it. The kickback on some weapons, while understandable, was often a bit exaggerated and I would end up shooting the air around the enemy rather than shooting into the enemy. Furthermore, the running feature - while I understand wearing the heavy suit and carrying X amount of guns can weigh you down a bit, would it hurt to be able to turn a little bit more when running? I would often find myself running into walls or cover instead of where I needed to go. This may just be me, as I am still relatively new to the franchise, but then you could say it’s not very newbie-friendly.

Not much I can really say about this, as it was a Multiplayer BETA, so I will just leave this one out for now.

While I can see myself returning to other games relatively early, a lot of my gaming buddies have literally not stopped playing this BETA. With the addition of more maps and game modes I can see this lasting for a long time to come, and even I will probably clock a fair few hours into this game.


79 out of 100

Even though this game comes from a series I previously shunned and didn't enjoy, Gears of War 3 has made me think anew of Epic’s third-person sci-fi shooter, and I will probably end up buying GoW 1 & 2 again now... If you have previously shunned this series, now would be a good time to give it a go, as it’s kind of a breath of fresh air compared to all these ‘Modern Warfare’-esque shooters that are appearing everywhere nowadays.


Basic Outline of Game Reviews

For my reviews, I will break them down into five categories, as you would normally expect. The first is Graphics, which nowadays can be considered one of the most important factors when it comes to games, which is quite unfortunate (being a fan of the ASCII original dungeon-crawler Rogue and the revolutionary FPS Quake.) However this cannot be helped, and I do often find myself becoming more immersed inside a game’s story when the graphics are outstanding.

The second category is Sound. This can also be an important factor when it comes to playing a game. It adds the ability to be fully immersed within a game and feel as if you are really there. A perfect example of this would be Battlefield: Bad Company 2, it uses amazingly life-like and realistic sounds to help you feel immersed in the world of B:BC2.

The third Category is Gameplay. What would be the point in making a game with supreme sounds, and supreme graphics and just putting in some shoddy half-assed controls with glitch-ridden gameplay? No point, that’s what. Although, this can be a very subjective area and I don't expect everyone to agree with me when it comes to this.

The fourth category is Storyline. While this is not really a strong point for most games nowadays I still feel this is a huge part of any experience, as when I was a wee nipper, single player was all we had. Although some games have been lacking in the storyline front, others make up for it with a storyline that has everything you could need to write a fine, bestselling novel, such as Oblivion.

The last category will be Lasting Appeal. While most single-player only games i.e. Dead Space have relatively short life-times, multiplayer’s where it’s at nowadays. I don’t think there is a human number to represent the amount of minutes I’ve spent playing the Call of Duty franchises’ online multiplayer – so this category is just all about are you getting enough for your money

Then i'll attempt to weigh it all in and give it a final score out of 100.

There you have it folks, the structure of my reviews. I will be posting up a review of the Gears of War 3 beta very soon.


Friday, 13 May 2011

New Blog for Game reviews!

Hey all,

Started this blog to provide the general public with game reviews!

Enjoy everyone, and please feel free to comment and pass this blog onto other people!

Coming up next: General blog layout!