Spartans IV hire

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Spartan Ops Season 1.5

In the build up to Halo 4 one of the things that excited me most was Spartan Ops. Something that promised to combine the excitement of multiplayer and the simple thrills of firefight with the deep and immersive story elements of campaign was riviting to a cannon head like myself.

Having been somewhat underwhelmed by the first half of season one, I was beginning to long for ODST’s firefight, but still held tight to the thin glimmer of hope that the return of Palmer, Dalton, Thorne and co would prove to be more engaging and exciting… luckily it was just that.

UNSC_Infinity_SpartanMarsInfinity, underused in the campaign gets shown off to a greater degree here

Despite my misgivings for the first five episodes I still always looked forward to the opening cut scene each week, the beautifully rendered, the short but always impressive bites of story we were treated to were brilliant, not least because of the characters. Thomas Laskey captain of the UNSC Infinity would already be familiar to most of you from the campaign and probably from the live action web series Forward Unto Dawn and for me he was the real star of show here. Palmer however seemed to be a little psychologically unhinged and somewhat unfit to command the legions of Spartan IVs, Infinity AI Roland is a great character and it’s nice to finally see another smart AI other than Cortana getting some screen time, the addition of a couple of characters recognisable from the main story and the extended fiction in Jul M’dama, leader of the covenant splinter faction composed mainly of the ‘Storm Sangheili‘, along with none other than Dr Catherine Halsey only served to further the excitement and the way that story develops through the second set of five episodes and serves to heighten the Spartan Ops experience.

spartan palmerSpartan Plamer, The poster Spartan for crazy

The main thrill of the second half of Spops is the feeling that your characters “Fire Team Crimson” are really making an impact on the story and garnering more respect from the key players in the story of the Forerunner shield world Requiem. Where in the first half it felt as though it was all about Majestic in the latter stages it is Crimson who take center stage. This is good because this bunch of arrogant and annoying Spartans really were starting to get old (with the exception of Thorne), luckily Majestic take a back seat from episode five and onward. As the story plays out the episodes begin to gather pace and it really starts to feel like a Halo campaign rather than a set of boring “go here, press this, defend this, leave” errands, yes there are still elements of that but the maps and the way they are used in the second half, breathe a new life into the beast that is Spartan Ops and finally start to make it look like a worthy successor to FireFight. I won’t go into detail about the missions because I don’t want to spoil it for those of you who are yet to live out the experience which builds to an unexpected, exciting climax.

imagesThorne, he may have Hollywood looks but he’s got Spartan skills

Playing through with a group on Legendary is already very tough but I can’t help but feel that the addition of a FireFight-esque lives system would hike the tension levels and make the whole thing a little more interesting and challenging, 343 are promising to re-run the episodes though and hopefully this is one of a number of things they could and should add, skulls would be nice, as would a theater mode and having your medals show up as you earn them ala multiplayer and FF would be a nice touch, that said I wouldn’t have too many complaints if they didn’t add any of these features because this method of story enhancement has now proven itself as a more than worthwhile escapade. Plus it was free, all ten episodes of season one for not a penny is a complete bargain.

It’s a smart move from Halo’s new grand overseers at 343 because not only was it an excellent way to increase the games longevity and keep the fanboys happy between map packs, it could also prove to be a nice cash cow in the coming months should they decide to release what would most likely be a pay to play second series. We saw the success that Tell Tale gamesThe Walking Dead‘ game garnered with this kind of episodic content winning praise from all corners, including a game of the year award, this kind of game shows developers exactly what gamers are willing to pay (in time and money) if you put out quality even in small doses.

images (1)“Just let me figure out what you have to do next Crimson”

“Is it push this button?”

“…… Yes”

So what does the future hold for Spartan Ops, well it seems that the overall reception has been positive with most of the folks I have spoken to admitting they would be more than happy to pay up to 1200 Microsoft per season, I don’t think they could quite get away with charging 400 msp per episode without seriously increasing the number of chapters contained in each weekly release but who’s to say they won’t try.

468px-Spartan_OpsLets open a can of whoop-ass Spartans

eremenko

PlayStation 4 Incoming.

PS4

Just under a month ago, the head honcho of Sony`s big muscly console arm said that they were waiting for the boys at Redmond to make the first move in the next gen console bout, prior to that 2015 was the date being banded about. I’ll admit I was suckered by this porky pie, so it came as a bit of surprise that they were taking the first leap into the pit of next gen, however given the fact that the massive delay between the release of the 360 and the PS3 cost them dearly in sales, then it makes sense that Sony would try and get in there early. Even the staunchest PS fanboy would admit the arms race has been tough for Sony the past 8 years, with them only matching Xbox sales at the end of last year, so in my opinion the big guns are required if they are to reclaim the might of their dynasty from the Age of PS2. In their own words this event is ‘a moment of truth’.

So post announcement is the PlayStation 4 a big gun? Well in short yes, the conference on Wednesday showed the new PS4 to be a really massive fuck off howitzer. The conference itself for the most part was as dry as a nuns chuff in a tub of silica, sparking numerous *yawn emoticons between myself and my hombre eremenko, especially at the beginning when the lead system architect for the PS4 demonstrated a title he had been working on called Knack, I believe eremenko’s words as written verbatim were “This is a joke right?”. Needless to say it looked shit. It turns out that the plan for the conference was to save all the good shit until the end, but more on that later.

The Hardware itself was billed as some super exciting world conquering set up, which I guess as far as consoles go is true, but PC gamers may have a bit to say about that. 8GB of RAM is huge in a console, and its based on x86 architecture which should make it easier for devs to conjure up good games for the PS4 off the bat, a lesson learned from the PS3 which was notorious for being difficult to build games for. The equivalent of a Radeon 7870 is apparently what will be found on board to make the shiny’s shiny, this is a really good card in PC land, although with new architecture for GPU’s coming this year then as usual the console graphics get outdated before it even hits the shelves. If you want a more detailed look at the specs then extremetech.com have a great rundown here.

As for the design, well the controller is basically a dualshock that has been tested extensively in a wind tunnel and the console, well the console is nowhere to be found. Only Sony could announce a new console and not show us what it looks like. Again makes me think they really wanted to beat Microsoft to the punch this time round. Oh speaking of Microsoft the PlayStation Kinect err I mean Eye was also unveiled….meh.

ps4 controller

With the mobile/internet era in full swing Sony could hardly ignore this in their plans, the incorporation of video sharing and even web-casting right on the console, along with spectator mode, which lets you watch your friends play games are certainly good concepts, as long as the video share is not on PSN only and allows uploads to YouTube, as this could really get more gamers/aspiring video ‘lets-players’ to invest. The whole idea of helping friends complete a level by taking control of their game if they are sucking, or rather my friends taking my game when I’m sucking seems a little much, I’m hoping that it asks you permission to do so, but even then where is the fun in not beating it yourself. Still points for effort for at least encouraging a more social experience I guess.

 ALERT: – This next couple of sentences signifies an up yours to all you loyal Sony fans, enjoy. 

Wait, Whats that Sony? No native support of PS3 games right out of the box? Wow, Fail. They say its coming ‘eventually’… A bit like the PS store’s release in Europe… which only happened this year…

Anyway with that out way the lets get onto the games/tech demo’s (of the latter there was a lot, again making me think this event might not have been the longest in its planning). What was shown looked amazing, literally every game bar Knack was so bloody pretty, Killzone Shadow Fall which will launch with the PS4 looked unreal, I love my shooters on the futuristic and frantic side and this game had a sack full of both.

Drivers Club was well drivey blah blah I don’t give a shit, sorry racers are not my thing.

For those who love all things indie, the guy who made Braid, is exclusively releasing his new game The Witness on PS4. It look like a maze game using the same graphics engine as Knack *cough*

Suckerpunch’s PS4 entry, InFamous Second Son looked amazing too, if you want to know what its about, think big brother state and vigilantes with super powers and if you wanna smash shit up, snap necks and it stick to the man (Oo err) this could be the one you want to shell out for.

Personally the bit I found the most exciting, more so than Bungie’s appearance showing even more of nothing with their open world shooter Destiny, was Quantic Dream’s tech demo of an old dude’s face, I think that literally had me sold on what this console can achieve so early on, brilliant stuff. Makes me want a PS4 or an old man, whichever is cheaper. If you like amazing computer graphics or old mans faces check the video out now.

There is plenty more I haven’t mentioned but if you want all the details then I am sure IGN or Eurogamer will oblige, I’ll end the article how I began by saying that Sony see this ‘a moment of truth’, will it indeed ring true with gamers or fall on deaf ears. Either way, the ball’s in your court Microsoft.

-The Quim Ninja

Thanks for reading, what are your feelings toward Sony’s PlayStation 4 announcement? Totally hyped or a bit underwhelmed? Let us know in the comments and please like and/or subscribe for more fucking awesome words in rows.

Destiny Awaits

The day is finally here. Since Bungie were forced to release details pertaining to their latest IP Destiny due to a legal issue way back in November, gamers around the globe have been eagerly waiting to see more concrete evidence of the latest title from the creators of the Marathon and Halo franchises today we were treated to just that.

Bungie_-_Destiny_(logo)

Is this your Destiny?

Friday saw a behind closed doors press conference in which Bungie unveiled the latest sci-fi shooter they and publishers Activision hope will take the world by storm, little was known about the project ….. until now. A short five minute vid-doc has been released which shows not only a lot of concept art but also gives us a glimpse at a tiny amount of the games engine. The focus of this short video seems to be to get the idea behind Destiny across and set the community talking about the game. Many of us will be salivating  at the idea of an open world, massively multi-player shooter from a studio already established as game changers in the field, however with Activision now firmly at the helm how will this new offering stack up against our beloved Halo? Well at present it’s hard to Judge it’s difficult in fact to even tell what Destiny is yet. Bungie is calling it a living world, persistent in a way that players of MMoRpgs will be more than familiar with, what they seem to be striving to create here is a World of Warcraft for the CoD generation. This is an idea that both appeals to and terrifies me in equal measure, the current popularity of free to play MMo’s is a little disturbing as it signifies (to me) a movement away from quality stand alone titles to games which are driven by the principle of “pay-to-win” where the more you spend the better you are, now I’m not a penny pincher I’m happy to pay for expansions and special editions should the rewards be significant however I have no desire to splash the cash in order to get a minimal advantage over my friends or opponents. Anyhow back to Destiny.

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Never forgotten

So the trailer (for want of a better word) opens with some intriguing insight into the future setting of the game, an Earth ravaged by war and brought to the brink of destruction by alien forces thus far unknown. Enough humans have survived (thanks to the appearance of the mysterious giant floating globe known only as “The Traveler“) to found a new city and begin the rebuilding process. This city it seems will be the base of operations for the elite of the survivors (us the players) to go out and re-take what we can of our planet and the others that were once under our control, unfortunately it seems the alien aggressors are wise to our plan and want to make things as difficult as possible for our rag tag bunch of re-claimers.

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“The Traveler” Mysterious and massive (nobody say anything about forunners!)

We are treated in the video to a lot of stunning concept art work, a touch of the atmospheric music and even small moments from the game engine. A few soldiers running, some others gathering in the last bastion of humankind, not exactly something you can sink your hungry teeth into true, but given that the title is rumoured to work with both current and next gen consoles, I wouldn’t read too much into that and I would expect that we will be seeing a lot more actually gameplay footage in the coming months. At the moment we are aware that there will be three classes in the game but I get the feeling Bungie are holding out on us here too and extra classes will be unveiled all in good time (hopefully we wont have to pay for each one individually). We are also privy to a couple of quick shots of spacecraft and what appears to be a customization feature for our own space faring vessels. Fair enough this vid-doc doesn’t reveal much we couldn’t have already surmised for ourselves but what it does serve to do is increase excitement levels and makes sure that we haven’t forgotten about our old friends Bungie in the wake of 343’s Halo 4.

– eremenko

Bungie have rightly earned a place among the titans of the gaming world thanks to the consistent quality they have produced over their history, most notably the Halo series, so the hype surrounding their latest title, Destiny, has been more than tangible this last week with a reveal promised and delivered to us this Sunday just gone. So now the info is out there, how does it stack up? Will Bungie preserve a perfect legacy?
du4Ge73
Firstly let me say, for me, the actual trailer for Destiny itself was 85% an anti-climax made up mostly of, albeit very pretty, concept art and ‘this game is going sweet’ talk whilst revealing fuck all. Bit of a fail in my book. The idea sounds cool, an open world shooter does sound pretty epic, the fact it’s set in a post-apocolyptic / sci-fi type of timeline which again I’m sure I will love and the 3 seconds of actual gameplay footage looked pretty nice too. However my bungie fanboy glasses are certainly still in their case, sure the graphics looked great, but also quite familiar in respect that you could spot other franchises such as Star Wars and of course their own Halo as blatant influences,   I guess I was expecting a little more of a radical shift in design style although I’m not sure why.
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I think George Lucas is gonna sue somebody 
The Traveller concept is probably the most intriguing thing to me, but again sounds almost exactly like a Forerunner type of affair, ultimately from what little I’ve seen I wouldn’t call Destiny a game-changer but more of a game-blender. Personally I expect that much from Bungie that I guess I was bound to be a little let down by the trailer.
Oh one more thing, the whole idea of Destiny content coming on an annual basis, whether you say it’s by choice of Bungie or Activision, ultimately is not beneficial to quality, can anyone say Call of Duty. Sure IGN said that Activision wouldn’t push Bungie for yearly releases but is that reflected in their track record? I’m not saying I think Bungie will become the next Treyarch I just fear it could happen.
original
 In summary I’m not going to judge Destiny until I’ve seen more or even better played a little, so far it looks pretty great, but not the expected amazing. I’m sure future info will prove me wrong but colour me underwhelmed for now, oh and wait for me to eat my words in the future.
– The Quim Ninja

Aliens: Colonial Conundrum

Love at first sight!

Love at first sight!

In space…No one can post douchey mud slinging reviews.

Unfortunately here on earth, everybody can and has – it seems with respect to the recently released “labour of love” from the ladies and gents over at Gearbox:  Aliens: Colonial Marines.

Now, it’s no secret that I’ve been hornier for this game than a nymphomaniac O.D’d on roofies since it’s announcement in 2008.  I am a huge fan of the movies, comics, and games.  Alien, and everything the film has spawned since has become one of the most recognized and popular franchises in SCI-FI history.

However, when February 12 finally rolled around and the game hit shelves, the “Review Embargos were lifted… and something far more wretched and all-devouring than the xenomorph was unleashed on the known universe.  It were as though there was a conspiracy of some sorts for all the mainstream gaming journalists to collectively take a steaming dump on ACM.  And from the look of things, they all eat plenty of bran.

At the present time I have already completed a playthrough of Aliens Colonial Marines on the XBOX 360 on “Hardened” Difficulty, and I’m working on a second.  I’ve put many hours into both single player and co-op, as well as a heaping helping of the multiplayer offering to acquire a taste for this fanboy feast from Chez “Gearbox.”  And I say “Gearbox” because it was actually “Timegate Studios” (Section 8) who pulled most of the weight for the games shaky development – ironically being blamed for many of the games so-called “problems” when it was GB’s signature on the product.  In fact Timegate’s work is not acknowledged on the games packaging or manuals at all.

In my opinion, Aliens Colonial Marines is a fucking AWESOME game.  Let’s get that out of the way.  It does not come without it’s problems however and I will touch on those.  Many of the problems indicated in IGN’s review however seem exaggerated with respect to AI behavior.  The story is well thought out, and it’s fiercely synonymous with the events of James Cameron’s masterpiece.

As you progress into the game’s 2nd half however you get a mild impression of the game’s bumpy and prolonged development as it ends in an abrupt and uneventful ending like…well…you know.  Campaign DLC has been confirmed, so fanboys can rejoice, and penny pinchers can grumble.  “Haters gonna hate, Lovers gonna love.”

The level design, and script for the game deserve an immense amount of respect and props.  Much attention to detail, and dedication went into designing the game, and this has paid dividends into creating a truly authentic experience for any fan of the films, and previous games.

To the contrary of IGN’s statements on the games AI’s, namely the Aliens – I have literally had the crap scared out of me, and sat dumbstruck after being not simply overrun by bugs, but outsmarted.  They don’t just simply throw themselves in front of you blindly like lemmings.  They rush when in high numbers, but as their numbers dwindle they begin to shrink back, and go through great effort to get at your back, and sides.

In one sequence while operating the Smart-Gun in the bowels of Hadley’s Hope, I have seen singular aliens suddenly hold back and allow their hive-mates to rush waiting for an opportunity to take advantage of the distraction.  I seriously question what difficulty settings  Mr. Ogilvie was playing on.  Not that there is anything wrong with playing on “kid mode” but the scary aliens might definitely seem meek when they have the strength and ferocity of kittens.  And ammunition is not seemingly endless, as I have had several desperate moments involving my sidearm and a swath of slobbering aliens running me down like a mouse.  I have literally had my ass kicked by this game.

The friendly AI’s however are about as useful as a hole in the head, and often disappear during moments when they would come in handy – only to magically re-materialize as you enter an elevator or reach an objective.  And speaking of which, apparently Left-Eye from TLC has been reincarnated as a Colonial Marine, or she simply has a huge fan 500+ years in the future.

Don't go chasing Xenomorphs, please stick to the COD's and Gears that you're used to...

Don’t go chasing Xenomorphs, please stick to the COD’s and Gears that you’re used to…

The co-op is a real hoot, and resonates with Left 4 Dead as a main inspiration, right down to a seeming AI Director which completely randomizes many ammo, armor, and health drops.  This has not been mentioned in any of the reviews I’ve read.  Even enemy placement differs in certain encounters keeping the action fresh and challenging on the harder difficulties.  I have yet to man-up and play through on Ultimate Badass.

The multiplayer is difficult, with the power being blatantly on the side of the Marines and their firepower.  Some critics have knocked the controls for the xeno, which are “clunky” or “awkward.”  In my little corner of reality we call this “a learning curve.”  Which means, not every game you play is going to be the copy/paste comfy controls you demand, and might..JUST MIGHT involve some…practice!  And I can say that with a coordinated team, and some patience an effective group of xenos can demolish a team of humans before they can say “GAME OVER MAN.”

I have had some funny, “blooper reel” bugs and glitches which included an encounter with a lurker simply sitting on the fours swaying back and forth staring at me while I was mere inches away from it – as though it had a bad case of Alien ADD.  As well as a gamebreaker in which I clipped through the floor while trying to beat an enemy down and was trapped in a bottomless free-fall in the pitch-black purgatory beneath the map.

Many critics have slammed the games graphics, even going as far as showing promotional screenshots VS the final product while pointing and screaming.  Please.  Show me a studio that hasn’t used polished promo images that look different from the final cut.  Have you never been to McDonalds?

Yes, there are some serious surface-pop problems in the game akin to Halo 2’s fuzzy surface rendering.  It was definitely disappointing to see a game ship after 8 years of development with such blatant graphical inequities, but it did not really interrupt the gameplay, and was not as frequent as some critics had pointed out.  Again, I question whether or not they had installed the game on their 360.  The graphics were not “terrible” but did look mildly “unpolished” but this lent positively to the old school feeling the game has with it’s health and ammo pickups right out of Doom.

So there we have it.  All I can say is that you should try a game before allowing the pompous elitists of gaming culture determine for you, what it is you like or dislike.  Sometimes in order to appreciate a game you need to look past your own expectations, and concentrate on what the game offers at face-value, and Aliens Colonial Marines is a labor of love, and like all things revolving around love does not come without it’s hiccups.

I would definitely recommend this game to fans of the films, or fans of intense co-op shooters.  To the ever scrutinizing gamers with preconceived notions of how a game should play, and look who get wounded when a game doesn’t fall into this standard – perhaps you should rent this game, or borrow it from a friend.

I’ve said before that I hate giving a game a review scrore, but in the interest of offering a contradictive review of ACM to the sheer swath of negativity out there – I would give Aliens Colonial Marines a well earned 8.5/10.  It’s a great game that I am still thoroughly enjoying, but it had some obvious graphical and story hiccups which could have been buffed out with a consistent development process and diligent QA effort.

So that’s my humble opinion on Aliens Colonial Marines.  Thanks for reading, and stay tuned to Teabag or Die for more great gaming reviews, articles, and more!

The Doctor is in

Theme Hospital front cover

Theme Hospital 

(Using the CorsixTH clone)

It feels like an eternity since Bullfrog were plying their trade creating early entries to the time management/tycoon style game which litter the flash game market today. For me they were the top dog when it game to this genre so much so that I recently decided to re-live the experience of one of their most popular titles Theme Hospital. I found that this has been made possible by some clever so and so who has released an open source version CorsixTH, you can download it here for free you will still need a copy of the original game but this clone will run on your much more modern machines without the need to emulate MSDos.

So how does it stand up against its modern day equivalents ….. well considering it doesn’t really have any rivals <EDIT: I just found out that a title named Hospital Tycoon was released in ’07 but apparently it was cack>  it holds up really well. Challenging, fun and funny Theme Hospital is still a clever little game with a lot to offer. Starting out small with just a few diagnosis types and a few cures, you need to keep your little slice of the NHS running smoothly while ensuring you don’t overspend on staff, building maintenance and expansion. Throughout the game you will need to research new ways to cure (or kill) your patients and train up your doctors to become more efficient life savers this is made all the more challenging by the tiredness level of your staff and their temperamental nature.

I remember this game being hilarious back in ’97 when it was first released but looking at it now it seems as if that was more a product of my adolescent mind than anything else, the voice ringing out over the loudspeaker and the descriptions of the diseases are a lot less amusing than I remember although it did pull a smirk from me when one of the celebrity visitors to my simple hospital was a ‘Billy Saville MBE’ luckily for me though I didn’t have a childrens ward. Some of the ailments that your patients exhibit are still fairly amusing, the bloaty head disease and it’s pop and re-inflate cure will always make me chuckle. As the game goes on you will find more and more of these illnesses which will require further diagnosis and more elaborate treatment methods, Slack tounge is another with a ridiculous appearance and an insanely painful looking treatment.

theme hospital ea bullfrog

Bloaty head …. it could happen to any of us

 Graphically it doesn’t look to bad even today, especially with CorsixTH’s hi res upgrade working it’s magic, it’s nothing special but it puts most of these micro management phone/tablet games to shame. That brings me to my next point, there is an Android version of this open source clone available (avoid the paid for one of the market place as you can get it free on the corsixTH website mentioned above) it needs work because a lot of the control elements have not been optimized for touch screens, which is fair enough given that it’s a free project made by some generous fella in his spare time.

The fact that a game like this can be ported to a mobile device kind of makes me wonder why we aren’t seeing more titles like this revived for the mobile gaming market, the architecture is all there and if we can run something as complex as the Dreamcast title Jet Set Radio on even the most low grade of Android device surely games like Theme Hospital, Dungeon Keeper, Populous, Settlers, Cannon fodder and many other classic PC titles could surely be manageable? Games like this would work perfectly on a touch device with a few tweaks so why not make it happen? It seems that the touch device gaming market is forever doomed to be plagued by these god awful micro transaction games …. I don’t know who is spending the money on this stuff but please stop because our handhelds are capable of so much more if only the developers were forced to try rather than release re-skinned city management and farmville type games.

themehospital2A doctors resume is a lot less complicated than you would think

Perhaps I am wearing the rose-tinted spectacles of nostalgia here but I am still really enjoying playing this game again, yes it’s pretty basic and once you have seen each facility  used once there is nothing really new to get from the game other than the satisfaction of running the hospital efficiently but I think those new to the title should still get something of a kick out of it.

eremenko

Do you remember Theme Hospital? Do you know of any other openSource games I can try (I already have OpenTTD), do micro transactions piss you off as much as they do me? or do you love em? Answers on a postcard…..

Play Mobile: – Temple Run 2

Temple Run 2

Just like each go I have on this game I am keeping this short, Temple Run 2 is here and is even more addictive than the original. For the twelve of you who didn’t play the first one, basically the objective was to escape a pack of angry monkeys with a golden idol in tow by jumping and sliding passed various obstacles for as long as possible, all the while nabbing coins to boost that score even further.

Temple Run 2 is pretty much the same thing except replace the pack of monkeys with one massive monkey and instead of just jumping over one thing or sliding under another, the guys at Imangi Studios have thrown in a few other interesting game mechanics. Now you have ropes to slide down, mine carts to ride Donkey Kong style and precarious ledges to try your best to not plummet from, all of this makes TR2 much more engaging than the first game, which often felt repetitive, but now its successor has variety in bucket loads I see no end to my addiction.

Power-ups work a little differently but again the tweak is preferable, instead of waiting to just pick them up whilst running you can use a your power bar activate your ability of choice, quick tip, boost is the future. This little switch around makes it easier for noobs and people who, like me, suck at it the game to get a decent score and feel better about themselves.

Of course don’t just take my average temple run scoring ass’s word for it, since January 17th when this ruin robbing runner was released on iOS, then when the Android crowd got their hands on it a week later Temple Run 2 has been downloaded 50 million times, making it the fastest growing mobile game ever. Angry Who? I’m sure the price tag was a decider because right now its free so you best “sprint” for the app now.

(Editor: – Ugh sorry about that joke but you know if you pay peanuts you get monkeys……)

Anyway download it on The Apple App Store or Google Play or even the Amazon Appstore

-The Quim Ninja

When there’s no more room in Hell …..

The dead will walk … in space!?! 


Dead Space 3 cover

Dead space was a fantastic addition to the survival horror genre when it was first released back in ’08, genuinely scary, atmospheric and original. Winning a plethora of awards that year. It’s not hard to see why it has inspired a sequel, a comic and two feature length animated movies. Now we have a third installment just around the corner I picked up the demo and played through the new co-op mode with a friend.

Dead Space 3 coopSurviving is less terrifying with a friend … right?

There’s not much to go on, it only took us about twenty minutes to crack the demo but here are my thoughts anyway. For me I far prefer enjoying games with friends to playing them alone but at the same time I do feel the atmosphere and terror of a survival horror title is something that lends itself more to being played alone at night with the lights off, it’s just not as scary when you know you have a capable partner watching your back although that can be dependent on the title in hand. Resident evil 5 for example just wasn’t scary, not alone, not with a friend Dead Space 3 on the other hand still had my palms sweating and me jumping out of my chair once or twice even though I had back up. It’s testament to the games design that it can still provoke this reaction from the player even in it’s third iteration, the creatures are really horrific and the fact that they can appear from anywhere at any time really adds to the tension if not the realism.

Dead-Space-3-PS3-co-op-2Clarke and Carver, They’re not friends …. yet.

Issac Clarke the series’ main protagonist returns once more to reluctantly take on masses of necromorphs but this time he has a buddy. John Carver joins Issac on a mission which they hope will finally put and end to the menace that threatens the entire universe. The demo doesn’t reveal too much about the relationship between Clarke and Carver but it does suggest that things are tense, Issac has a lot of experience battling with space’s equivalent of Zombies and he knows what they are capable of, whereas John seems to be something of a gung-ho marine type who is over-confident and almost the exact polar opposite of the games main hero (I’m sure they will work out their differences and become bosom buddies by the end don’t worry). It worries me somewhat that this relationship may detract from the games atmosphere and that the narrative might descend into a buddy movie/bromance of less than epic proportions but we will have to wait and see.

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And he’s just one of the little ones wait til you meet his mum

Gameplay wise nothing much seems to have changed apart from the addition of a needlessly complicated weapon manufacturing and upgrade system which I can already tell is going to get really frustrating during co-op playthroughs, there is nothing worse that waiting around while your partner spends half an hour organizing their inventory and crafting weapons when all you want to do it get back to dismembering dead heads (as we were taught by Dead Island). That said however the weapons you can create do look to be as lethal as the predecessors amazing equipment, I just think that the mechanic could be streamlined somewhat. Another gripe I have with the demo is that at one point we find ourselves fighting against other humans and the game turns into something of a sub par Gears of War style third person cover shooter, even as the necromorphs appeared these soldiers (or whatever) continued to fire on us rather than turn to face this far more terrifying alien menace. We can only hope that these sections are few and that they are well interwoven into the story.

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Over-compensating much?

In short, the fear is still there, the game looks fantastic and the design of the weapons and creatures is as visceral as ever, there are some issues but hopefully they wont plague what has already proven itself to be a fantastic series too much. And maybe … just maybe it’ll make for as good a co-op survival horror experience as the somewhat obscure … ObsCure.

Hail to the <space> King. Baby!

eremenko

Crysis 3: – Could be Beta

For the three of you who read my previous post on my highlights from the Eurogamer Expo back in September, you may recall my excitement for Crysis 3. Well on Monday Crytek brought out the open multiplayer beta to Xbox PS3 and PC, so imagine my joy when I was provided with the chance to get another hands on.

crysis 3 beta

Let me just say that much of my initial awe conjured by this game came from the sheer graphical prowess, for those of you who haven’t seen how lush this game is just check out the tech engine demo trailer her on YouTube. Anyway at the expo I was playing on a PC so obviously I knew it wouldn’t sizzle quite as much on my Xbox. Imagine my disappointment when I first fired up the game to discover that, compared to the PC, the console version is a ghostly shade of what I had experienced previously. Sure the 360 is getting a little creaky in its grand old age so I even had a look at it on the more powerful PS3 and honestly it left me a little sour. Not to go on but just to make my point if the PC version is Evian spring water then the console port is a muddy puddle. The TLDR version: – Comparatively its dog shit.

Before the beta boots up you are given a little video about what you get if you pre-order, which consists of some pretty middle of the road trinkets, including some ‘exclusive’ dog tags which are marginally better looking than BF3’s array, an arrow skin – that’s right a texture for something as skinny as Kate Moss back in her smack taking days. Also included in this ‘limited time off’ is early access to a ‘Recon Arrow’ which if I’m honest I have no idea what it does exactly but it flies for miles. Another skin is thrown in, this time for your nano-suit. A more game influencing reward is you get the iconic Crysis hunter bow straight out the gates, which you can fire whilst cloaked, as well as a perk which makes you as quiet as a girls constrained fart in a movie theatre. Minus the skins these little bits do give some definite advantages in-game but I worry this could shit in the cereal of those who do not pre-order. Quick scenario, you go and buy Crysis 3 on launch day and hastily skip home game in hand, you slip the disc into your gaming platform of choice and fire up a game of Crash Site. 30 seconds in you find that the game is populated by silent invisible ninjas with weapons forged on mount Olympus raining a hail of arrows from three miles away upon thine hapless skull. I can see your happy face now, not showing the slightest hint of rage, still holding your favourite peripheral of choice in one hand, whilst with the other pulling down your pants and bending over waiting for the next round to begin, all the while still smiling, overjoyed at the best purchase you ever made. If only you had pre-ordered and got all this great stuff plus the five level xp boost thrown in and you could have been the one administering your barbed shaft between the oppositions butt cheeks. Well at least you aren’t getting XP from buying Doritos (*cough* 343 *coughcrysis 3 multiplayer screenshot*).

Ok rant over regarding pre-orders because the one good thing the normally tight-fisted EA have done, for those who buy the game pre-release, is throw a copy of the original Crysis in for good measure. It’s a good move as far as exposing the series to new players like myself.

Putting the console graphics and pre-order gripes aside the beta itself is actually quite fun to play, it offers up two maps and two modes to dip your nano-penis in and get the juices flowing. The maps Airport and Museum are both on the medium to small side which keeps the action dial positioned between steady and frantic. As I mentioned earlier I am somewhat of a noob to the series, so I’m not sure if this is indicative of the map sizes to be found in this game or if larger scale warfare and by extension bigger maps will be included. I hope the latter is true because having played my fair share of Halo BTB and Battlefield Multiplayer, when it comes to games I am certainly from the school of ‘size does matter’.

The modes included are Crash Site, a standard King of the Hill scenario, much like Battlefield 3’s Conquest mode or Halo’s creatively titled King of the Hill gametype. Its fun to play with a team of Spartans errr I mean Nano-guys and defend an objective, the one thing it seems to lack is much tactical play, with players opting to just run at the crashsite in one large pack than employ any real strategy. Having said that, unlike Battlefield’s multiple crysis 3 multiplayer museumzones in conquest which require a bit of planning within your squad to attack, the nature of Crash Site is basically to rush between one single moving zone, so I guess the run en masse is a relevant tactic. When I say that you find a lot of people charging around the map, the game-play never gets overly frenetic, allowing time to pick a cover point and pull off some precision shots, or in my case shoot just left of my foe before being dropped like OJ;s murder charge.

The Hunter mode is both fun and infuriating, much like the Halo infection game type, one person starts as a hunter complete with permanent invisibility and bow, whose tasked with the sole aim of sneakily killing other players and recruiting them into your ranks before the time runs out. I do like this mode on either side but being on the non-invisible side fills me with a kind of palpable fear, knowing that as my cohorts fall one by one, there is another transparant killer on my tail. It makes me feel shameful that I don’t behave like Arnie in this situation by smearing mud on myself and going down fighting, instead of actually desperately fleeing these ghostly apparitions whilst having a fecal crysis in my nano-pants.

crysis 3 hunter mode

I’ll just quickly round this out by talking about the kit, which although I have not leveled that far I have found that the guns available to me handle rather well, the Feline is quite a joy to use actually, rapid fire and decent damage albeit not the beefiest sounding gun. As for the perks, the ones you start with are pretty strong with the invisibility of course being a favourite, but the auto armour which is meant to provide a health boost is pretty much useless at tier 1.

Overall I have been enjoying myself in Crysis 3 but if I am honest the multiplayer doesn’t excite me as much as other shooters in my collection, I found that after a few rounds I wanted to play something else. I had this down as a must buy back in September and, if I had a good enough PC, it would probably still be on that list, however as it stands I think that primarily a console user this title has slipped onto the rental list for me. That’s not to say I wouldn’t buy it later, this is just a beta after all, but from the game-play I have experienced here and the COD poor graphics I have seen so far, my eagerness to get this game has dwindled.

– The Quim Ninja

Have you played the Crysis 3 Beta? Any thoughts good or bad? Let us know in the comments. If you haven’t given it a shot then the open beta runs until February 12th

Play Mobile: – The Hobbit – Kingdoms of Middle Earth

The Hobbit Kingdoms of MIddle Earth Logo

If you have been living under the Lonely Mountain for most of the Third Age you may not know that The Hobbit just came out, which for me is one of the most anticipated films of this year, what can I say, I love short dudes with hairy feet and a taste for pipe weed. Anyway the hype and marketing has been building up to a frenzied pitch for a while now and has spawned many different products to keep people hungry for their precious. One of which was this decent mobile game that I think you should give a go, unless of course you are related to or represent the Tolkien estate in which case you probably won’t enjoy it.

Lets kick off by saying as a kid I always liked to play the odd strategy game with Age of Empires taking up more than its fair share of my misspent youth, Civilization was another title but to a much lesser extent (because I didn’t know the cheats) and The Hobbit KOM falls into Civ’s turn based approach. The premise hasn’t really got anything to do with the book or indeed the movie that its name heralds from but is at least set in Middle Earth. The game behobbit KOM viewgins with Gandalf telling you how Elves and Dwarves don’t think all that much of each other, at which point your job is to choose which side your sword swings toward and after an obligatory tutorial you are left to start constructing your city. During the early stages of the game completing the quests is relatively straight forward and will earn you some quick resources but as they get more difficult and your building upgrades get more costly you are going to have to venture out, cave some other poor saps skull in and take all his shit. I found this out quite early as I was that poor sap on a daily basis for the first few days of play, with the bigger boys grabbing my pitiful yet hard gained resources and gold leaving my backside sore. Just as I was about to run crying to mother I found that building a vault at least helps protects a certain amount of resources if not your gold from the grubby mits of your would be rapist, I would recommend getting one of these built pronto.

Building your city up and getting troops together are just two of the many layers to this game, if you are to progress and build the might of your city to higher levels then researching new skills to higher levels is essential – and time-consuming. This particular feature is probably the most rewarding because even though it can take fucking ages to get all the necessary resources I personally feel I have achieved something when my new super pimped troops roll out of the barracks. Of course if you are a particularly impatient you can purchase mithril with real money to help you buy resources, buffs and time deductions to hurry things along. Now I know this kind of pay to win philosophy is in the eyes of some controversial but if there is a demand from players for it and as long as there isn’t any ‘one item to rule them all’ in the store then I personally don’t have a problem with it.

Being a game built for mobile and social networking sight as you might expect player hobbit mapinteraction us heavily emphasized, whether it be in-game with the aforementioned raids on players, joining an alliance or just having a natter within the apps chat room, or going social by tweeting, instagramming and connecting to facebook and telling your friends how utterly addicted you are to KOM. Of course you don’t have to do any of this you can be a lonely hermit if you so wish, however strategically raiding fools is a good way to get some resources as is joining an alliance, which can score you stuff just by asking the bigger boys and interacting with social media wins you mithril, bonus items and more.

Anyway just thought you guys might want to give this a shot as it is honestly the only mobile game that I have played consistently every day for weeks now and it has loads to keep you interested

Its free on the iOS App Store, Google Play, Facebook and I think even Google+.

—–UPDATE—–

This game is purely for mobile devices as someone in the comments has rightly pointed out. I have double checked and Facebook and G+ do in fact just redirect you to the relevant mobile app store to download. Thanks Travis for originally bringing this to my attention and sorry to all of those who wanted to play on your PC or Mac, but seriously if you don’t have a smartphone or a tablet by now then loosen those purse strings a little.

—–UPDATE 2—–

Still playing this and thought I would give a tip or two on keeping hold of your gold and stop getting robbed. I was getting looted quite often in my old position by one player in particular and was getting a little frustrated so I hit them back and took like 2 million gold from him and spent or gave it my alliance, of course I stupidly sent a few gloating in messages to him, this of course made matters worse and the frequency of attacks upped. In the end I used a Radagasts Gift and moved elsewhere. When the attacks picked up again from multiple sources I took a different tact, I just asked nicely for them to stop and you know what? It worked and I have been able to keep my hard earned taxes for longer. Of course if you are more of an aggressive type and like to raid often then this underhanded tactic might be more your style. It only works if you have a mobile device but basically set up another account and get it to a stage that it can at least join an alliance and transport resources and gold, now get raiding and start sending your gold and other I’ll gotten gains straight there. The seven day protection keeps everything you snatched away from vengeful armies, then when you need some coin for your research simply ship over just enough to pay for the lengthy research time. A bit of an exploit but all is fair in love and war between elves and dwarves. You’re Welcome.

– The Quim Ninja

Blog Reloaded Cold Cartography Part 2

Another classic map highlighted by the one and only DayandKnightly

Reactive Bias

Welcome to the second installment of my “Cold Cartography” series, a group of posts looking at the snow-covered Halo multiplayer maps and reflecting on their layout and lore.

First up was “Sidewinder“, but we now turn to a more compact space …

“Some believe this remote facility was once used to study the Flood. But few clues remain amidst the snow and ice”

Lockout_1

Name:         “Lockout”

Location:     Installation 05

Game:          Halo 2

Map Pack:    N/A

Marco:         Polo

Tucked against a rock face on Delta Halo, Lockout was one of the standout maps of Halo 2. Originally set to feature in Halo: Combat Evolved*, Lockout was worth the wait as it kept players constantly on edge with its power positions not easily defended.

This meant everyone was always moving, and in my opinion that’s something that…

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