Surviving … again

The Indie game trend is continuing to gather pace and as Dosser already talked about his pick of the up coming titles Environmental Station Alpha I thought it wise to bring to your attention a little java game I’ve been spending some time with lately.

The Indie Stone have a little corker which is well on it’s way to completion in Project ZomboidCurrently in alpha stage the game is already feeling like an original and interesting concept. Zombie games are ten-a-penny these days and with some excellent titles already available (The Dead Rising series, L4D, The Walking Dead and DayZ among the greatest) it’s a market that continues to grow despite being arguably overstuffed (on brains). Personally I couldn’t be more thrilled I friggin love Zombie games especially when they create a terrifying atmosphere like this one.

Placing you in the shoes of one of the few survivors in the suburbs of Muldaurgh you have an injured woman to care for and no starting resources to do so. Not going down the first /third person route typical to this genre but rather an isometric style allowing you a better view of your surroundings (for all the good that will do you). Graphics are kind of like a really shiny 16-bit game and the whole appearance puts me in mind of Zombies-ate-my-neighbours crossed with The Sims. Surviving will entail securing your safe-house, eating, drinking and perhaps most interestingly … sleeping. This is something you don’t have to do in any Zombie game as far as I can recall and it’s something you would not want to try without the knowledge that your base is impenetrable or your watchman/woman reliable it is a terrifying addition here. As in DayZ the only quest in the game is to survive this seems an almost impossible task and you will eventually die. I have only played the pre-alpha demo and I have not fared well thus far dying at the hands of another crazy survivor and again in a fire. I have not yet managed to survive beyond the second day but the game intrigues me enough to warrant buying as soon as possible. The Indie Stone promise an ongoing development in a manner similar to Minecraft with updates coming constantly adding new weapons, Items and areas. Games like this along with Minecraft and the upcoming Under the Ocean should be admired by the larger studios who really need to take a lesson from this kind of dedication, I can’t help but feel the idea of putting out an unfinished game would be far less frowned upon if future upgrades and dlc were provided free of charge for you the consumer.

a bugged player in fifa 13

How the hell did this get past the testers!?!

Throw into the mix a deep crafting system (barricading, cooking, weaponcrafting) and the option to co-op with your friends (surviving is less painful when you have someone you trust at your side) and you have here a project that might be able to oust even the great Mojang as top Indie developer.

Also this game may well prove to be good training for all of us if things pan out the way Joss Whedon predicts.

Whedon on Romney

Keep your friends close folks ……. you’re gonna need them soon.

Happy Halloween.

eremenko.

King of Kong

To celebrate a year since we first started teabagging our words onto your screens I thought that it seemed quite fitting to give my thoughts on a film which shows just how serious some people take their gaming and I think no film illustrates this obsession more than King of Kong.

“This is a war universe. War all the time. There may be other universes but ours seems  to be based on war and games.”  ~ William S. Burroughs

As this quote right at the beginning illustrates, setting records on old school arcade games is taken very very….very seriously. No-one takes it more seriously than the gentlemen at Twin Galaxies International who regulate and verify high scores for a host of classic games and there’s one man who is worshipped above all by this nerd coven. Enter Billy Mitchell.

Billy Mitchell evidently takes Donkey Kong more seriously than his haircut and is initially portrayed as a winner. Fair enough though since the guy is like the Gene Simmons of the arcade having held the world record for this particular game since 1982. Given Billy’s ‘swag’ you can tell he knows his score is untouchable. Until now.

In the blue corner we have our plucky challenger Steve Wiebe, well maybe not plucky more downtrodden. This a guy has tried so hard at numerous things and has been so close to having major success only to come up short and choke when it really counted. He is a truly nice guy despite being totally OCD and from the start you are rooting for him, plus he is like a Donkey Kong rain man and if anyone can beat the mighty Billy’s score its Steve. Which he does on tape whilst his kid is screaming for him to come and wipe his arse,. This man has the skills. Anyway a minor celebrity status ensues and finally for the first time Steve feels a sense of achievement in his life.

The film takes more of a sinister turn at this stage when the group of nerds who Billy is part of take a more mafia style approach and send some minions to Steve’s house to try to find an excuse to invalidate Steve’s score. Watch the film for the specifics but Twin Galaxies says they won’t accept Steve’s tape as they suspect foul play and the new king is quickly dethroned.

Then the day comes where The Guinness Book of World Records comes to town and when Steve hears about it he steps up to prove his worth. Cue the Rocky style montage of Steve fiddling furiously with his joystick, complete with Eye of the Tiger music.

Will Steve succeed and overcome The Illumnerdi? or will The Kongfather Billy Mitchell keep his crown. You will have to watch to find out. You can find it on Netflix and the trailer for this epic battle can be found below.

Please 343. Don’t *BLAM!* up my Halo.

So, here we are less than two-weeks until Halo 4 hits store shelves like a crisp pimp slap with baby powder.  It’s been five long years since we last linked up with Spartan 117 and delivered our collective teabags to those split chin sons of bitches, the covenant.

Now, before we get any further cat’s and kitties – I must illustrate that I came into this series as not only a Halo fan, but a Bungie fan.  Bungie was not only the forefather of Halo, but also a slew of other games I had truly enjoyed beforehand, especially Myth.

I watched as this small studio came into their own, and nearly needed a new pair of pants when I saw the initial gameplay demos of Halo from Macworld ’99.  Nobody had ever seen anything like it, and it was an ambitious, and revolutionary spin on shooters.  With half joy, half trepidation I witnessed Bungie lock hands with Bill Gates & Co, and perhaps subsequently lose their innocence as a studio.

By the time Halo 2 hit shelves, and I had burned an entire week of college saving the known universe – it became abundantly clear that Bungie’s amalgamation into Microsoft did not come without it’s pains and pressures.  Missing/broken features like a fragmented story, graphics pops, and most annoyingly a non-functional online co-op option – were telltale signs that they did not have the luxury of putting the time into developing it, as they would have liked.  They even came out and illustrated how difficult it was to finish the game with Microsoft breathing down their necks from concept to crunch time.

I was overjoyed when Bungie reclaimed their independence as a studio, but also grief-stricken to learn that it came at such a heavy price.  In securing their freedom, they had to sacrifice their greatest creation.  Now, with 343 Industries, MGS has constructed a “dream team” Halo studio complete with familiar faces from Bungie, and fresh faces to bring a new level of passion, and dedication to the series…  Or so they say.  From some of the tom-foolery with Halo Legends, and the over-saturation of Halo merchandise these new wardens seem like some kids who stole their dad’s shiny new Porsche. And I’m afraid they’re going to eventually wrap it around a light post.  Or maybe 343 is more like Icarus, and as Halo 4 draws ever closer so to does their proximity to the sun.

My new found compatriot here at TBOD: Eremenko has already written a reassuring post which details that “behind the wheel” Halo 4 PLAYS great.  That brings a sigh of relief.  My fear, and concerns however, pertain specifically with the story.  For me, Halo’s story, and universe is what really pulled me into the series.  It was, and still is the perfect amalgamation of my favorite Sci-Fi elements, with a healthy helping of originality to make it stand out, and resonate with me in a way no other series has.

Without key players like Joe Staten, the Mclees, and others I’m afraid that in trying so hard to make Halo 4 awesome, and pay homage to the true forerunners of Halo, that this brash young studio will accidentally drop the bottle of win-sauce into the simmering pot that is this entire franchise.

Time will only tell, and with 12 days until H4 makes landfall, I’ve got the jitters like a green ODST on his first drop.  Am I merely a rampant old bastard with irrational and misplaced fears?  Chime in, and leave a comment below or hit us up on Twitter, and PLEASE talk me down from this.

Cheers,

SK1LLZ

Love, Dishonor and Obey

(Dishonored on Xbox360)

You’re probably sick of hearing me bang out about it but since I gave you my first impressions of Dishonored last week I feel that now I’ve cracked the game it’s only fair that I give it my full verdict.

plagued citizens of dunwall

(The victims of the Plague have been driven mad by disease and must be avoided at all costs)

The disturbing setting is the star of the show here and despite not having the most original overlying story (falsely accused of a crime, you must escape prison, seek vengeance, rescue the princess) the game creates a great atmosphere and a believable backdrop to a fantastic adventure. Corvo’s quest is less about killing the corrupt and more about how far he will go for the sake of the young girl whom he is charged to protect. Along the way he makes some good friends and some big enemies each more ruthless and power hungry than the last. Each level brings Corvo a new target and see’s him dropped off by the riverside and sent out alone to stalk his prey. This isolation is prevalent in the game and you find yourself breathing a sigh of relief each time you complete a mission successfully and can return to your friends “The Loyalists” back at your makeshift base in an abandoned pub. The background of the world is described in many books and notes left lying around the various settings and they read very well, unlike in some games where it feels like a chore having to trawl through lines of text to find out that some dude killed some other dude for the sake of some bird, such texts are usually no more than one page and actually add to the atmosphere really well.

dishonored pub(The Hound Pits, Corvo’s safe haven …..)

If you are expecting an RPG experience you will be surprised, yes there are abilities, yes you can upgrade each one but only once. Using items called Runes which are hidden throughout the levels you can upgrade your Corvo in the way of your choosing either make him a more efficient killer or transform him into a ghost moving through the shadows un-detected. These abilities are accentuated with the use of Bone Charms, which can be equipped to give you further abilities (such as extra swim speed, more health from potions, less damage etc). As great as the world is I can’t help but feel they could have made more of the steam-punk setting, there were only a few machines and vehicles that were actually usable or moving the rest were simply there as scenery where I felt they should have been used to a greater effect. There was a distinct lack of pedestrians in the world too, the only time the city felt really alive were in the brothel and party scenes (although this kind of makes sense as the lower echelons of society were in the grip of death with the plague hanging over them).

masquerade ball

Dunwalls less classy side There is stark contrast between the upper and lower classes … just like real life ey?

I was slightly disappointed with the ending of the game but having only seen one of multiple endings I suppose it could just be because I played the boring way, I’m really looking forward to getting stuck in again and playing the whole thing through in a different manner.

All in all though Arkane/Bethesda have come up with something really special here a truly unique game. The graphics are brilliant, the gameplay is excellent, the story has darkness and depth. Some people may find the lack of free exploration an issue but the game more than makes up for that in the creativity department not to mention exceptional replay value.

(Samuel the boatman, the best friend an assassin could ask for)

If you think you have time for a 15+ hour game before the magnificent fourth Halo then you must buy this one.

– eremenko

One to Watch – Environmental Station Alpha

Since the dawn of the original Xbox I have spent most of my gaming life buried in one triple A title or another, however when Minecraft exploded in popularity the indie game scene was suddenly thrust into my sphere of awareness, since then I have been looking more to this arena for cool things to play and this one up and comer that caught my eye.

Environmental Station Alpha is made by two gentleman known as Arvi “Hempuli” Teikari and Roope “noby” Makinen and from the trailer seems right up my street. Set on a malfunctioning space station you play a robot sent to find out what hit the fan. Immediately what piqued my interest was the pixel art style, to some it may appear a little rough around the edges compared to some other bigger indie platformer’s, but the rugged variation in each level really gives the feel of a diverse range of environments that have all grown out of control, making that whole abandoned feel the creators are going for all the more authentic. When combined with the music this point is really hammered home, to me it accentuates the feel that the whole station is a world unexplored and perhaps it should be left that way. By the developers own admission the gameplay is heavily inspired by Metroid which is certainly a good thing, anything that emulates such a classic is fine in my book and makes me all the more eager to have a go when it is released.

Anyway let me know what you think once you’ve had a look at the trailer below. Also go check out Hempuli’s blog and see what else he has been up to.

Forward Unto Dawn has won me over.

First, let me start off by stating that I am one of the… Grizzled Ancients of the Halo fan-community.  Once, I too was a giddy, excited fanboy gorging on expanded fiction, and posting like it was going out of style, my voice once echoing throughout Bungie’s forums (and beyond) to the point I was bequeathed with the title Exalted Mythic Member…

Now I find myself a crotchety old miser, floating and sputtering about the dust, and the echoes of other voices, with their own resonating opinions on what has become of our beloved saga.  In my relatively silent rapancy, I formed my own hypothesis on this saturation of data from the makers new wardens: “343 Industries.”  How quaint.

And now my friends, an even more ancient evil awakes.  Time for me to offer my proverbial “Two-Cents.”

Forward Unto Dawn:

The title isn’t quite as dead a giveaway as you might think.  Honestly my first-impression of this series could be summed up by calling it: Degrassi meets Halo.  Chock-full of cliche “dramatic haircut” sequences, and linear plot development, I found the first two episodes to be a rather sour tasting smoothie consisting of redundant plot paths, and predictable arcs.

As far as casting – I found it difficult to believe in these scrawny kids running around in full UNSC combat kit and not keeling over and dying.  They looked like they’d be better suited chilling at the food-court than traipsing about the inner colonies fighting insurrectionists.  Then, a friend pointed out something which dissolved this entirely.  “They’re training to be officers.” He said with casual dismissal.  Then it all made sense.  To me, Corbulo feels more like a UNSC boarding school than a Military Academy.  Then again, with a galactic civil war plaguing the colonies, younger candidates made more sense.  Suddenly the young skinny cadets felt more visceral, and truly illustrated how dire the situation was.

Also, the show is breathtaking visually.  Following the benchmark set by the live action trailers of the past, 343 has blatantly put allot of love into filming this series.  The Special effects are nearly on-par with what I would expect from a Hollywood project.  The acting quality hasn’t disappointed, but more accurately it took me a while to warm up to it.  The set-pieces are brilliant, especially the Space-Tether, which plays a more prominent role in episode 3.

The third episode is what really brought me into the series in a way I hadn’t felt since I first read The Fall of Reach.  I’ll keep things spoiler-free for those who have not had a chance to watch it – But I can say with confidence that they have picked up the pace, and that this show is shaping up to be one hell of a series that any Halo-fan, or any fan of Science Fiction would enjoy.  I found the characters to be much better grounded, and the drama was less typical, and grew more suitably grim.  And of course in Halo-tradition it was ended with one spicy cliffhanger.

But the million dollar question, burning in every other story-geek’s mind remains.  And that is: “How does the Master Chief fit into all this, and from a canon perspective will it work?”  343 has already muddied some of the established storyline with Legends, and merely brushed it off casually.

Fanboyism aside, whether or not this satisfies my anal retentive story expectations, Forward Unto Dawn is a great series that overall, has set up their characters, and story rather well, albeit they’ve stepped on a few movies, and books toes in the process… But frankly tell me who hasn’t now-a-days.  Go check it out, if you haven’t already.

Thanks for reading folks.

Get Your Rat Out

As you may have read in our last post eremenko has gone the awesome route and bought Dishonored, I have gone for the slightly less awesome and certainly cheaper option of getting the Dishonored Rat Assassin App for iOS. If you give rat’s arse *ahem* then read on.

This little slice of the full game is just as polished its triple A titled older brother, on the shiny scale its definitely towards the sparkly end. Not that you should expect any less since the app was made by Bethesda themselves whose work speaks for itself in the looks department. For those of you who have played the insanely popular Fruit Ninja then the premise will be fairly familiar, in Fruit Ninja the objective is to slice various portions of your 5-a-day by swiping your finger across the screen as a blade. Rat Assassin puts a macabre twist on things and instead hurls squealing rodents in front of you to split clean in two. For those of you with a fondness for all of Mother Nature’s creations you might want to give this one a miss.

The app presents you with a couple of different modes in which to butcher rodents in, in the timed mode you have cut through as many as possible, in challenge mode the object is to not hit the bombs and score a certain amount of points and the assassination mode is pretty similar but the rats are lobbed up with bombs and you have to murder the vermin without letting any fall from view. To keep you interested there are a multitude of unlockables from new blades and backgrounds to music and, if you get sick of the squeaks of pain, objects to mutilate. Most of these are gained as you progress but some also become available through fairly simple means such as tweeting your score.

Powerups are  available in-game as well to spice things up, my favourite being this bomb blade thing that when fully powered will kill all the sewer dwellers on-screen when you slice just a single rat.

All in all its a solid little title to help fritter away any spare moments you might have, but for the love of P.E.T.A don’t try to recreate this in real life, rat guts are a nightmare to get out a cream carpet.. err so I hear…

Oh and the icing on the cake here is the price, it costs nothing so if you want to do your bit and rid Dunwall of its infestation then just click this link and away you go.

-MS Dosser

Honorable Intentions

the mask of corvo

(A spoiler free review of Arkane/Bethesda’s action adventure game)

Dishonored has finally landed in the UK and from first impressions it’s not going to disappoint. Controlling Corvo is a joy, playing like a cross between Skyrim and Assassins Creed only without the full on freedom of either open world title (The Skyrim comparison is no surprise given Bethesda’s connection here). In place of a huge free-roaming world Arkane Studios have favoured more closed but well realised environment. Each level feels like a Skyrim dungeon but in a much larger setting giving you the option to sneak or slash through those standing between you and your target. For me this is where it get’s really interesting. The poor hapless folk of Dunwall are taking a bit of a kicking from both a disease and a corrupt ruling class in which the city guard simply mere pawns. The last thing the poor unknowing henchmen and their families need right now is a short, stabby, pain in the neck. However as Dexter teaches us it’s okay to kill bad people, there’s a fine line between good and evil folks, evil acts here will have repercussions. Listening in to the thoughts of those poor saps in blue reveals that most of them are simply thinking about getting through another day alive. Maybe it’s a reflection of my ageing brain but I feel for these work-a-day slobs and have opted to spare as many lives as possible. This is not easy.

(Sneak your way to victory?)

Playing the game in this manner on very hard mode is a bit of a challenge so progress has been pretty slow thus far. A lot has been said about the freedom of choice and creative abilities in this game while that is true it does lead you down a set path to a certain extent. You have an ultimate goal, there are areas that you can explore along the way but the unique experiences come from how you reach your target. Corvo has a range of abilities all of which can help him move through the levels in a manner of your choosing. Said abilities are at the core of the game.

owch.

(Or get stuck in and start stabbing)

Staying hidden is pretty easy most of the time moving from cover to cover or along pipes and over walkways to keep out your enemies line of sight but if you want to get the most out of the game you are going to have to take down the odd guard. You can do this in a non fatal manner however but it is more difficult than it is in most stealth games. The AI’s don’t stick to the regimented pathways as they would in most games of this type and they will often surprise you by turning to face you when you least expect it, this means you have to spend more time studying their movements and surroundings in order to plan your attack…. timing is key. In addition the hiding spots littered around the environment never look like they have been placed as deliberate cover, there are no convenient chest high walls for you to duck behind and all of the scenery elements blend in perfectly to what is a beautifully designed world.

(Dunwall is a gorgeous place, it pays to stop and take it all in sometimes)

The games somewhat cartoony graphics are akin to something like Fable or Bioshock but the stylized nature has more in common with the latter (Arkane studios were actually involved in the design stages of the Bioshock series). The whole thing looks amazing though and I’ve never found myself becoming bored of looking at the scenery as I watch for the perfect moment to swoop in on my prey. Yes the graphical style may not be for everyone but the game has enough substance to keep even the most cynical from complaining too much. This comic book style belies a deeply disturbing setting, Dunwall is a city on the brink of collapsing in on itself …. can you change it’s fate or will you add to the despair?

– eremenko

Hey…. Low high points

So as Dosser already informed you we recently had the chance to play a bit of Halo 4 at the Eurogamer Expo. It was epic, the atmosphere among the Haloites there was one of nervous excitement and from the moment we stepped into the conference hall waiting for Frankie to begin his play-through of the third level in the new campaign appetites were well and truly whetted. The campaign looks brilliant, seems to be a really clever mix of classic Halo gameplay and the new exciting elements on show. All of the Forerunner weaponry has a completely unique look but also retains enough familiarity that you can immediately recognise what role each weapon will fulfill. What we were all really looking forward to though was getting some hands on time with a bit of Infinity slayer.

I have to admit I have been somewhat apprehensive about the additions the good folk over at 343i are bringing to the table, as a long time Halo fanboy I was worried that new load-out options, new weaponry and the added ordinance drops were going to make my beloved franchise into a COD clone… Far from it. 343 have undoubtedly taken note of some elements of the worlds biggest selling fps but they have made them their own and incorporated them into the Halo sandbox seamlessly. The most important difference for me between Halo and the military based shooters out there is that it makes you feel like a super human bad ass. In Battlefield, for example, you can spend an entire round pinned down in a corner trying to hold off a full on assault from wave after wave of merciless opposing troops as a Spartan however that feeling of fear is completely removed and Halo 4 is setting itself up to be no different in that respect. Overpowered weapons, insane assassinations and tremendous speed are a Spartans best friend, you find yourself whooping with joy after pulling off the most insane moves and surviving with barely a millimeter of shield bar remaining. Even when loosing a firefight I felt like I wanted to get back into the fight and have my revenge, the new instant re-spawn gives you the ability to do just that launching yourself back into the high octane, adrenaline pumping battle mere moments after you were mercilessly plowed down by your enemy can give you the drop on your opponents as they try to recover from your previous battle, this fact puts even more emphasis on ensuring you keep moving, there will be no snipe camping in this game, that much I can already tell.

My weapon of choice from the main load-out options was without a doubt the returning Halo 3 favourite the Covenant carbine rifle, not quite as powerful as the UNSC equivalent (the DMR) the carbine has a much higher rate of fire which means those players with a steady aim can often shred down your shields and pop in the decisive head shot before the opposition has fired off the first round. I didn’t really experiment with too many armour abilities but I think the thruster pack is shaping up to be a real life saver in a pinch, the Promethean vision is no doubt a game changer in a one-on-one situation and the hardlight shield could prove to be incredibly effective …. if I could just figure out when to use the damn thing.

Specializations are going to be a key element in multiplayer and having a good balance in your squads abilities could very well turn the tide in your teams favour which will massively increase the importance of having a team of Spartans you are used to playing with. Halo has always been more fun with friends and these additions will no doubt increase the importance of building on what is already an exceptional community. While we didn’t really have time to actually fool around with these aspects during the frantic action packed ten minute rounds it was still evident that each choice in your load-out will make a substantial difference to your gameplay experience. The one thing that irks me about the experience is the apparent lack of gameplay differences presented by playing as a Spartan IV as opposed to the earlier games Spartan II’s which the extended fiction informs us are far more powerful and well trained super soldiers, that said the Spartan III’s in Reach presented very little differences too and I never complained about that.

Spartan II’s vs Spartan IV’S what is the difference?

Truth be told I was so incredibly excited to actually be at a games con let alone playing Halo 4 that I was always going to love it really, add to that playing with my fellow TeaBaggers and some great other people from the community including the gents from Dust and Echoes and the one and only MCG_Mushball aka Mitch we were left with all the ingredients to have something really special. I probably would’ve had just as much fun playing Halo 2 over in the retro zone with these guys but we didn’t. We got to play Halo 4 and … it …. rocks.

Hve you played Halo 4 yet? What did you think? Does this installment entice or disgust you? let us know, follow, comment, rinse, repeat. Spartans Never Die.

– Eremenko

(In)decent Expo(sure) Part 2

So last week I shared my first impressions from the EuroGamer Expo on Tomb Raider, Hitman Absolution and Doom 3: BFG Edition and in this post I thought I would finish you off with the other games I managed to have a blast on between rounds of Halo 4. Read on to hear my incredibly noobish opinions on games I don’t fully understand.

The Unfinished Swan

I thought I would start with this little number which I think was probably the most original title I saw. I didn’t even get a go on it as there was only a couple of monitors with it on but I couldn’t help just watching, mesmerised by the concept. This PS3 title was a first person title where the player starts with a totally white screen unable to see anything except some yellow footprints presumably made by a swan, that is until you start throwing clods of black paint all over the shop which helps reveal the level bit by bit. As the player hoys the emulsion about the maze is slowly unveiled to help you find your way with the end goal of catching that elusive hissing bird. From what I watched I was quite taken aback by the cleverness of the concept. I would happily propel paintball’s in this manner for a year. Definitely one to keep an eye on this one as it seems like to me like a sleeper hit in the making. It comes out on the 23rd of October in the USA and the 24th in Europe on PSN, but if you have Playstation Plus then you can bag this oddball adventure on October 16th in USA or 17th in Europe.

Crysis 3

Out of all the games I played at the expo this is probably the one at the top of my shopping list. Having never played any of the previous iterations this one made me feel like I had really missing out. As soon as I got my hands on it I was immediately blown away by the quality of the graphics. I haven’t seen anything that really holds a candle to it, fair enough it was running on a monster rig of a PC but still it looked amazing. The new engine is apparently a real PC melter but obviously you can turn the settings down to run on a regular PC, but where’s the fun in that, I mean who would want to look into the uber realistic water only to not see your enemy reflected in it. I went for the keyboard/mouse combo over the control pad and jumped in. The gametype I played was very team orientated with the objective to capture an area and hold it whilst the enemy super jumped and invisified up to your location to oust you from the hill which is not exactly revolutionary but it doesn’t need to be. It wasn’t quite as frenetic or as frequent as I thought it would be but maybe I was unconsciously shying away from it at times, when trouble did found me though it was very battlefield in the way the guns handled and I even managed to drop a couple of people – which was nice, the gameplay was more disciplined and ‘realistic’ during engagements. I did die a lot though which I put down to my utter noobishness, thankfully I made up for points by getting to the objective which others seemed to ignore. The other game mode I saw being played but didn’t get a shot on was the new hunter mode which involves two players being armed with crossbows and the signature predator like shimmer invisibility going against the rest of the players as they shit themselves trying to work out where the shots are coming from. As I say this was my first game of Crysis I ever played and I really enjoyed it despite my lacklustre performance and for a game to impress me despite being fragged countless time is quite a tall order. Needless to say first impression goes a long way and I will be getting this when it comes out next February.

Farcry 3

Yet another franchise I have never got into (damn you Halo) but as I was on a promise to one of our readers I thought I would give it a go. It did look lovely and I could certainly see the comparisons that others were drawing between this game and the world created for the new Tomb Raider. Being an open world game I just went for a bit of drive, tearing aimlessly through the lush jungle, which was fun for a while but then a guy on the stand told me to activate a radio tower to see the rest of the map. Once that was done he pointed me toward hang glider “sweet” I exclaimed “I am gonna hang glide the shit out of that hang glider!”. So a blasted my 4×4 all the way up this mountain full throttle….only to make to the top a crash straight into the hang glider and smash the shit out of it. My mourning period was immediately cut short when a bunch of terrorists streamed out, which to be honest were pretty easy to drop. Later I found the same when I took on a group of arseholes on a beach, sure they hit cover where possible and tried to make it to mounted guns when they could but I found the AI fairly basic, a little disappointing but on the flip side I did feel like rambo when mowing down these poor saps. Overall I had a pretty good time and am sure the full game will be a varied experience and hopefully the AI will get better on a more difficult setting. If open world shooting is your thing cop this on November 30th

Carmageddon: Reincarnation.

This game has always held a special place in my heart as a wee lad. My teens were punctuated with the sound of engines and the alarm of pedestrians come dog food so when I spotted this I had to have a go. A crowd sourced project that brings an updated version of the driving gorefest to the mobile gaming world and it hasn’t lost any of its charm. With new levels, tweaked car mechanics and most obviously tablet adapted controls this still played just like the original, fast, fun and filled with death. On being presented with the cars to choose from I immediately went chose my go-to Carmageddon ride – Vlad the Impalers Annihilator. As in previous games this is still the fastest shit off a stick and if possible has even less turning ability. I basically straight line wheelied the whole course only turning when a wall forced me to, but boy those mugs in the road near the wall were done for, tasting their own intestines before they knew they had been minced. Thoroughly good fun. Meant to be out before the year is over on at least iOS, keep your engines hot and your spikes sharpened.

Here at TBoD we would like to hear your precious thoughts on any of the games we have mentioned here or in previous posts. Will you be getting any or all of these? Or do you have your hard-earned cash for something else? Thanks for reading and we look forward to reading your views!

-MS Dosser

Halo 4 – Teabag Evolved

The release of Halo 4 is imminent and when this post comes out 28 days will remain on the clock. To say the game itself has caused somewhat of a stir in the community would be an understatement, with the so-called ‘old-school’ up in arms about the overhaul 343i is giving our beloved franchise. Much of the furore surrounded changes such as the addition of editable loadouts, unlocked armor mods that give the player an advantage in a certain area and weapon drops can be called, nearly all of which are undeniably drawn from other military themed shooters out there that Halo fans love to hate. Now we are ‘old-school’ Halo fans here at TBoD and personally we would like to say to all those other ‘old-school’ fans who are resistant to change – quit your bitching and adapt. Now you know where we stand lets move on to the fun bit where we got play Halo 4 at the EuroGamer Expo. Here are my thoughts.

Having played for a whole day on the thursday and a bit too much on friday to the expense of some other games and I feel comfortable in saying this is most definitely still Halo. Sure the UI is new and sparkly but the influence of the previous games and surrounding mythos is immediately evident. This new game is a very different beast but if I had to compare it one of the previous iterations I would say it feels a lot more like Halo 3 than Reach, which is no bad thing and as eremenko pointed out when we were discussing this post, this makes sense canonically as it is a direct sequel and true successor to the Master Chiefs last outing and so the game play should be accented as such.

Gameplay wise its augmented heart beats more quickly than any other Halo title. I did expect this from what I had read and seen previously in videos etc but I was quite surprised how subtle this increase in tempo was, first game I played it did feel somewhat twitchier to reach but after the first round that twitchiness morphed into a silky fluidity that leaves the previous Halo’s and indeed many other modern FPS titles lacking.

Finally after years of plodding along 343i have made sprint standard issue, no more deliberating whether you want this in your loadout at the expense of another armour ability and more importantly no more running away. When you run into an enemy it pretty much forces hostile engagement, constantly testing who can kill the quickest, if you need to regain health during a firefight this little addition makes you constantly more aware of the cover around you, rather than simply fleeing you have to be a touch more tactical and make sure you drop your foe to ensure you escape with your skin intact. This tiny change makes something like the health regen armour ability more relevant and useful than in other Halo titles, throw this down for a quick boost and turn the tables on that person charging after you.

Not that I did this, in fact I tried out very few armor abilities. I had a quick go on the active camouflage in combo with the sword (noob camper style), used the thruster pack to zoom forward by accident once and used the health regen once, again by accident. I didn’t even try out my go-to jetpack from Reach which apparently has been heavily nerfed *whimper*. No I got all excited about how fuckin awesome the weapons felt and played pretty much the whole time Halo 3 style. Just me and some very very powerful guns!

The weapon sandbox from what I could tell was really well balanced and I think the trick employed here by the guys at 343i to make the playing field so even was to make every The DMR, what a beast.gun really bloody powerful. I spent a lot of time with the BR and the DMR and both were efficient at dropping my foes in pretty much equal measure but I would have to edge the DMR purely down to sound effects alone, it makes me feel I am firing mortars rather than bullets into the opposing squads faces. The needler found its way into my hands a few times and ermagherd like four or five needles equals pink mist, enemy sad face and me serving high tea on said enemies corpse, I was so surprised at just how quick suckers fell to that weapon. Like the rest of the arsenal the AR has seen a long overdue power upgrade, I actually found it viable against a BR at mid to close range and killed a couple of guys with it in that type of battle, if you miss a shot with a precision weapon the AR will make you pay the iron price.

Now onto the power weapons that I managed to get my grubby mits on. The sniper rifle is as powerful as ever and oh so satisfying when some poor sap wanders out of cover only to receive a 50 cal ear bud removing all the ear wax and gray matter in one fell swoop. I don’t think the sniper has received a power upgrade gameplay wise but it didn’t really need one, The Scattershotsound fx wise jesus christ, every shot that hurtles out that barrel sounds like a granite cliff face split down the middle because of some turmoil occurring with the earths crust. The immensity of it all is almost unbearable – until a split second later your quarry lies pwned on the other end of the map. The new forerunner weapon the scattershot is a totally different kettle of fish, an uber-close range shotgun style thing that when you hit the sweet spot turns whoever was on the business end into burning shreds of paper caught in a breeze.

I have saved the best until last, for those long time readers you may remember me mentioning in a post a I wrote last May that I was looking forward to using the Railgun in Halo 4. Well now that I have. Ho-ly-Shit. It is unstoppable, I know now whenever I get that as a choice for my ordinance drop I will choose it each and every time. Once that is in your hands killing the other team is inevitable. Works like the trusty spartan-laser but with half the charge time meaning you don’t even really need to track your target, just reticule red and CRACK dead, reticule red and CRACK dead. Wash, rinse and repeat. I was literally jumping out of my seat cheering when I wasted people with this death stick, utterly unaware that there was like a hundred people behind me in line to play probably thinking I was a total dick.

In summary any reservations I had or indeed you have about Halo 4, well forget them because this is shaping up to be the best Halo yet. What’s that? You want to play it and judge for yourself? That’s fine, I know you will agree with me and when you do join me for a game and tell me I was right, I will be patiently waiting, Railgun at the ready…

The Railgun AKA Brown Pants Time

DayZ(ed) and ConfuZ(ed)

Day z title card with walking dead zombies

(Want to know how it came to this, read part one and two hereA mountain top at night, it’s cold and it’s pitch black but I am woken by the sound of movement. The smell of death hangs heavy in the cold night air. A light moves through the trees about four hundred yards from my position, someone is approaching on the mountain road they must know I’m here they would have seen my abandoned bike. I watch as the torch light draws closer then it vanishes from sight. A moan from off to my right, the light reappears much closer now I hear some muffled conversation, two maybe three voices French I think, I don’t understand what they are saying but it sounds urgent. A strangled screech, a sound I know only too well, the strangers have alerted an un-dead. More frantic conversation, much louder this time, a shot-gun goes off. The sound seems to ring throughout the silence of the wood, more screeches. The sound of running and limping feet seems to surround me, I had no idea there were so many so close that explains the smell. Staying low, holding my breath and praying that one of the creatures doesn’t trip over me as it hurries toward the sound that alerted them. More shots ring out, a rifle is added to the sound of the 12-gauge. The Frenchmen are well armed, but it’s dark and they are scared, fear is making them trigger happy.

Alone in the dark

This was all I could see

The first scream is chilling, I may not understand the language but I understood that. The fear freezes me in place, I want to call out to them, tell them to run but I can’t. Another scream, close this time. I hear the kick start on my abandoned bike, a survivor trying to escape, he doesn’t know the bike’s tank is empty. Even if he fills it up it’s no good I salvaged some parts from the engine that I thought might come in useful possibly condemning a fellow survivor to death doesn’t feel great. Another shot sounds, then silence I crawl away from the sound and begin the descent down the mountain in the darkness, I’ll never know if the lone survivor escaped. I hope he did.

Emerging from the tree line on the edge of the mountain it’s much brighter now the clouds have cleared and the moon is illuminating everything in a spooky colourless way. I see what appears to be a power station pylons leading off toward a distant city it looks fairly well fortified and could be a good place to set up camp, having hardly slept properly for days the idea of a safe place to rest is appealing. Creeping through the front gates and over towards one of the buildings in the yard I spot a door slightly ajar as I move closer I realise a large hunk of metal blocks any possible entrance to the side however is a ladder. I climb to the rooftop noticing for the first time a tower atop the building but I still cannot find a way inside. I look around the roof top flicking my torch on in short bursts, knowing that using it up here would telegraph my position for miles. I sidle over to the edge of the roof where I thought the ladder was, as I step over the edge I loose my footing and fall.

I regain conciousness flick on my torch to look around, a Zombie is shambling toward me I try to stand but a shooting pain forces me back to the ground, I’m sure my leg is broken I try to stagger away but another Zed approaches from my side. Dazed and confused I have no chance I am quickly surrounded.

They ate me alive….. again.

Giving back to the TBoD Community

Its doesn’t take Sam & Max or Cole Phelps to work out that we recently went to the EuroGamer Expo. Whilst there we managed to scoop a few cool things that we thought might be nice to give back to our loyal readers for your sins.

For this particular competition we have 3 Xbox Live Avatar items to give away to you lovely people. The item in question is in my opinion rather cool, it’s the Corvo Mask from Dishonoured. Each of them worth a cool 240 Microsoft Moon Bucks.

Entry is easy, simply Follow @TeaBagOrDie on twitter and Retweet one of the competition messages you will find on our feed. Entries start now and the competition will close at 6pm GMT on Friday 5th of October.

Good Luck!

Dishonorable Zombie Expo

(Eurogamer Expo 2012 earls court London)

Well we are back and it was amazing. My first ever visit to a video game conference was so much fun, we played some great games and met some even better people. I’m going to talk about a couple of things I played that my fellow blogger here did not. I want to start however by thanking everyone who took one of our cards and spent a little time having a chat with us and sharing their experience, the atmosphere was brilliant and everyone was so friendly so “Thanks guys”. Right grovel over onto the games.

dishonored wallpaper

(Dishonored)

Probably one of the most polished games at the show was Arkane StudiosBethesda published first person assasination adventure. It’s to be expected that this game would look and play as great as it did because it’s due for release in a little under a fortnight so I would expect we were playing the final build.

The demo on show threw the player in on a mission to take out a high profile target. It becomes immediately obvious just how much emphasis has been placed on player choice. Starting off in a back alley I proceeded up to the main street. On first impression the games cartoony art style looks great, while it might not tax the 360’s processing power too much with graphics it more than makes up for that in depth, the world is active and people bustle around their business in a very believable way. I dropped back into the alley after having a look round and climbed up a nearby fire escaped to see if I could find a way up to the waypoint indicating my target. My way forward was blocked but on the way back down I noticed a wall which I cleared in one leap. Into the water I went swimming off round to the rear of the building I found a huge water wheel which I rode up into the targets premises.

This was just one of many ways to gain access to the building and I feel it is this freedom that will be pivotal to the success of this game, once inside it was time to try out a little combat. I would like say that I stealthily made my way through the steam punk stylized warehouse taking out guards without being spotted unfortunately for me that’s not how it went down, luckily though this title hands you a plethora of options when it comes down to taking down the unlucky henchmen. On offer in this demo were many of the powers that I imagine will be unlockable throughout the campaign and they did not disappoint. The ability to posses npc’s,  summon rats, whip up a wind storm and teleport along with a large selection of weapons meant you were never short of ideas when things went bad.

The graphical style and artistic inspiration may not be for everyone but I think this is going to be a killer title and a must buy for me….. it may have to wait until after Halo 4 though.

(ZombiU)

This game has drummed up a lot of interest since the WiiU title was first announced and this was evidenced by the fact that we had to queue for almost two hours to get our hands on the new fangled tablet controller for Nintys forthcoming console. It was well worth it though. Dropping you in near tower bridge in the Expos host city of London the game drips with atmosphere and terror. Making your way through some sewers and up to the surface by the riverside you are quickly met with some fantastically animated Zombies and the tension mounts. Given a couple of weapons with very little ammo, a trusty cricket bat for melee and an unlikely “scanner” of some description you feel straight away that survival is going to be as difficult as it is terrifying. It’s the control system that is truly original here using the tablet screen as your scope for sniping, managing your inventory and scanning your surroundings is something completely unique to Ubisofts survival horror offering and it works very well.

Both scary and innovative this game could prove to be the standout WiiU launch title (should they manage to get it together in time) and it could prove to be a real console seller among the more hardcore gamers. The other titles on offer for the new tech were more of the same old Nintendo cartoony platformers, which while excellent games, wont necessarily appeal to your average Xbox and PlayStation gamer but judging from the lines around the Ninty section I think sales of the WiiU wont be a major concern for the family gaming giant. Still our favourite little pointy eared sword wielding, bomb throwing, bow toting, green smock wearing elf was notable by his absence (although i did see a few Link cosplayers.).

All in all a great expo see you there next year everyone.

– Eremenko

(In)Decent Expo(sure) Part 1

You may have noticed that we had a bit of a hiatus last week because myself and a couple of my fellow tea baggers were attending the first two days of the EuroGamer Expo at Earls Court, Laaandan. We had an epic time and chatted with some equally epic people who were kind enough to take our promo cards and share their thoughts about the games on show. Oh yeah there were games there too and we managed to get round quite a few of them. Other than Halo 4 which will get its own post here are my first impressions of the games I managed to play.

Tomb Raider

So the first game I tackled on the Friday was the latest incarnation of Lara Croft, a re-imagination of the lady adventurer by developer Crystal Dynamics and publisher Square Enix. I spoke to a couple of people on the floor about this game and one made the very good point that Square Enix really should make movies, which pretty much summed up how I felt about this demo. In my opinion it was extremely cut scene heavy, I found myself watching in-game cut scenes more than I did actually playing the game. Personally I found this to be pretty damn annoying, I don’t need to see Lara whimper and scream with every single ledge she drops off or log she walks across. I do get that they are trying to drive the narrative and move away from the breastically enhanced super hero feel of the previous games which I think it certainly does but for me personally it was a bit overkill. She’s inexperienced and fragile I get it, but that’s enough. Having said that I do want to get this game when it is finally released, it looked bloody nice, the controls and action animations were smooth and the camera placement was spot on and the story will be a fresh take on the croft canon. I just wished the demo had offered a touch more action.

Hitman: Absolution

Next one on the cards was the latest Hitman which I have to say was only marred by my lack of skill. The colour saturation was pretty damn gorgeous, its set in a chinese market you really get the feel of authenticity from the level of detail that has been added to this environment, whether it be the neon signs or the more traditional building designs. The crowds react when you bump into them and even stare at you if you hold still for too long making you feel rather out-of-place as you stand about in that familiar suit that Agent 47 favours. As I say I probably would have enjoyed this a bit more if got the hang of it. My mission was to kill ‘The King of Chinatown’ who was located in a pagoda and on my first life I thought I would try to do it sneakily. I approached the pagoda and a few of his goons blocked the entrance in there, so I moved on and was given a rather vague hint about brittle chains but when pressing the button combo whilst pointing at it nothing happened, so I whipped out the guns and shot at it. Needless to say people started screaming and loads of people started shooting at me and dropped me like a sack of shit. Next time round I took a more direct approach and shot my target in the head straight off the bat. This went down like a cup of sick and soon SWAT were all over the shop, I managed to procure a police uniform but was recognised fairly quickly so I retreated down some dirty stairwell and hopped in the nearest dumpster. This is where I spent most of my time after that, I would get out and garrote a dude get his clothes and try to blend into the crowd to escape….except the crowd was now made up entirely of SWAT/Police/Gang Members so I would continously get spotted and have to leg it back to my faithful bin. This occurred for about 20 minutes until they saw me get in the bin and shot me to bits. I bet James Bond never had to put up with this shit. As I say I would probably enjoy this game if I was any good at it but any fans of this franchise will certainly dig on this a lot.

Doom 3: BFG Edition

I know this isn’t a new game it’s a remake but with added 3Dness. If you like Doom then not a lot else needs to be said really. With many games nowadays having more complex mechanics in it I could see this prehaps lacking for some players but on the other hand if you are looking for simple run & gun monster shoot em up then pick this up. The 3D effect itself was pretty sweet although it did suffer a little bit from the usual darkness you get with 3D games, you could look at this as adding to that horror element that was great in the many other iD games which I guess it did at times but I found it annoying not being able to spot where the enemy who was attacking me. The staff on this booth did push the value of buying it though, not only do you get this 3D remake but you also get every Doom ever made except Final Doom. Having just googled the price it seems they were right as its at most £25, so you are a hardcore fan and looking for some nostalgia this could be right up your poorly lit corridor.

So what do you reckon? Are you planning on getting any of these titles? Let me know what you think in the comments below. Come back and check out Part 2 where I will be voicing my rankly amateur opinions on The Unfinished Swan, Crysis, Farcry 3 and Carmageddon. Thanks for reading.

-MS Dosser