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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Two Worlds

 My Rating: 7/10
Gamespot User Rating: 6.9/10
This game has some very mixed reviews, some people claiming it's one of the best RPGs ever, some people claiming it's complete and utter garbage. Well, both are true, it all depends on what you're looking for in a game.
Lets start with the bad points. The cutscenes (there aren't very many) aren't that great. The voice acting is complete garbage and includes the protagonist singing the most off key version of "it's raining, it's pouring the old man is snorting". Some of the models for the people have shoulders so broad that they look completely unnatural (this coming from a guy with broad shoulders). The main story line isn't that good at all, most twists and turns you see coming miles away. Nothing positive ever happens in this game, ever, even down to the protagonist's banter, he's always bitching about something. Almost no quests have a happy ending, or even the possibility of one (which, in some ways can also be a positive point.) and finally the name has absolutely no relevance to the game that I can figure out.
Now for a more detailed look at the strong points of the game, the reason this game is worth recommending.
 If you are sick of quests always having a happy ending or enjoy other people's tourment you will love the side quests. Almost no quests have a happy ending, a good example being: I started a quest chain with a necromancer, the last quest you have to get an item for him. You go back, and a stranger asks you for the item, depending on your answer he either decides he wants to kill you or he tells you the Necromancer was imprisoned and you get no quest reward at all. Another example: You have to go to an outpost that was attacked to find someones brother and see if he's okay, the survivor you find is not his brother and you have to break the news that his brother is dead. One final example: Some people moved out of the starting town to found a new town, they haven't heard from them for a while so you go check it out, the entire town was slaughtered by snow orcs.
The graphics are quite decent, nothing fancy, but the best thing I have to say about the graphics is that they work beautifully with Nvidia 3D, I'm not normally a 3D gamer, but I couldn't play Two Worlds while it wasn't in 3D it works that well. Render distance is awesome in this game, which might be one of the reasons it's so good in 3D.
 The world is very large, has quite a good population of enemies and has tons of side quests, caves and small villages as well as a few major cities. There are a few different environments in the game such as a glacial winter area, a wooded area, a jungle area and more, adding much needed diversity to the terrain. Two Worlds is an open world game, just like an Elder Scrolls game, you can go anywhere on the map you want if the terrain allows it except for this one city in the far north which is completely inaccessable ever. There is even a nice teleporter system to act as a fast travel and (after finishing a quest in the same quest chain that unlocks the teleporters) you get an item which is essentially a personal portable teleporter, you place it, teleport out, teleport back and pick it up again.
The character development system is decent but isn't for everyone. When you go up a level you get attribute points and skill points to put into any skills you have unlocked. Eventually it is possible to have them all unlocked at max points.
There is a great variety of spells, all of which have modifiers to make them more powerful. Spells, like items are stackable, so you can get a level 200 poison bolt if you kill a lot of necromancers. The problem with poison spells in this game is they do absolutely no initial damage and take forever to actually get your target down in health as it doesn't seem to stack other than how much total damage will be dealt.
Equipment upgrading is a little bit overpowered. To upgrade an item, all you need is one of the same item, drag one onto the other and you willl get a higher level of the same item with better stats. The downside to this is you end up having equipment that's very dated (and there is a good amount of equipment in the game) but what's available isn't as good unless it's upgraded multiple times. Adding elemental damage is also overpowered, you get these stones (which are fairly common) and drag them onto the item to give it the damage type of the stone, with no end to the amount of times you can add damage, the only restriction being that each item can only have one elemental damage type. Still, it gets to the point of where you're just killing everything no problem. 
The game also has alchemy, you can make potions or traps. Two Worlds also lets you create permanent effect potions to get permanent stat boosts making you even more overpowered.
I don't really know whether this is good or bad, it all depends on what you're looking for but enemies do not respawn or scale to level. Despite this fact there were more than enough enemies in the game world to keep me satisfied.
First time I tried to play this game I really couldn't get into it. Played it again and loved it, I've beaten the game twice. I would recommend it if you can get past the flaws.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Sketchy Tower Defense (XBLI)

My Rating: 9/10
Xbox User Rating: 4/5

This is my first Xbox Live Indie review. From now on, if there is no bracketed tag in the title, the game can be assumed as PC or multi-platform. This is my first Xbox review and I plan on doing more for mainly arcade and indie in the near future, (XBLI) is for Xbox Live Indie (XBLA) is for Xbox Live Arcade. Now, to the review!

This game is simple, simple but fun and at 80 Microsoft points (roughly a buck) you definately get what you pay for.

Unlike some other Tower Defense games the maps are generally open and allow you to construct however you damn well please, the monsters move in a straight line to the castle at the opposite end of the map, some maps have two castles, others have three lines of monsters going after one castle. Either way, you have 10 life that you start with, each bad guy that makes it to one of your castles takes away one life.

I think the two major flaws of this game is that there is only a few maps and there is only endless mode, no pussy "yay, you beat the level" it's real man land, survival of the know...for real men that sit around and play games all day...

But other than those two flaws this game still gets 9/10 because it's just that much fun for only a buck. There are special two player maps which are essentially VS maps, one player is working against the other. And then there is the normal maps, you play against the horde trying to get to your castle...OR you can have a buddy jump in and help you at any time (usually works best when there is more than one line of guys going to one castle).

All towers are upgradeable multiple times, there are damage and range boosters, air only towers, traps, basically anything you want in a good quality tower defense. Sure, the artwork is basic, all sketched on graph paper, but it's really fun and fully worth 80 points, I'd probably even get it for 160 points.

And now, screenshots!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Torchlight 2 - my opinion from the beta

 My rating: 10/10

Torchlight 2 is looking to be a beautiful game when it comes out. At only 19.99 with a free copy of Torchlight 1 when you pre-order, I honestly recommend pre-ordering this game on Steam.

I only played by myself, and I only tested the berserker, but I can tell you, this game has that addictive quality that kept me playing Diablo 2 for hours on end.

Unlike Diablo 3, each class is mana based. Personally I've never had a problem with this as most skills are more like spell-like abilities anyways. To make each class unique there is a different bar, with the berserker it's a rage bar. As you attack you accumulate rage, if you spend a while without attacking, the bar slowly runs out. When the bar is full you go into a berserker rage, you crit more often, you hit for more, and you generally plow through a large group like nothing. With the engineer, you build up charges, there are powerful skills you learn in which you need to expend charges to use. Haven't really touched the other two characters, my beta stopped working for some reason so I can't post on them and as I completed the beta with one character I don't really feel like teasing myself not being able to make it further ;)

One thing I like over the first Torchlight (and Fate for that matter) is there is more customization with your characters, and your pets. Each class can be either male or female, you can do a little bit of minor customization with their face and skin tone. You have a selection of about 8 or 10 pets (up from two in Torchlight and Fate), each one you can change the color of.

Multiplayer in Torchlight 2 I haven't touched but I looked at and it looks pretty good, standard but good. Maximum of 6 players, option to password a game, and what I found really great a friends only option, so you don't have to dick around with passwords if you want a friends only game (I have no friends and I played in a friends only game essentially making it single player). 

Skill trees seem to work a bit differently than other games, I'm not sure if it's just because of the beta or if it's going to be like this in the full game. It looks like every skill has a maximum of 15 points you can put into them. The skill trees are also level based over point based. What this means is that if you want a skill somewhere in the middle, but you hate the rest of the tree, you don't need to put into the rest of the tree, you just need to grab that skill. Like I said it may not be like this in the full game, but if it is, it would cut down on those "OMG YOUR CHARACTER IS NOT THE EXACT SAME AS EVERYONE ELSE, YOU SUCK" nazis that ruin RPGs for everyone since there is a lot more customization.

On top of your skills and your bars, you pick up spell scrolls as you go along, which you can teach yourself, or teach to your pet.

Pets work pretty much the same as in Torchlight 1. They fight with you, can transform into more powerful forms via fish, they have an inventory and can return to town and sell shit for you. Instead of being able to teach your pet only two spells, you can teach it four like you can yourself. Your pet can also return to town not only to SELL stuff but you can get it to BUY stuff for you too by giving it a shopping list and some gold. In the first one you could equip your pet with an amulet and two rings, in the second, you equip it with a collar and two tags, which I found to be a bit better attention to detail.

Identifying items is a lot easier in Torchlight 2 than in any other game I've come across. Most items will already be identified when you pick them up but for the few that aren't instead of finding the scroll, right clicking on that, then clicking on the item, all you have to do is right click on the item you want to identify (as long as you have a scroll). SMART! Why didn't all games do this from the start? I mean really, it's pretty basic.

One thing I love about Torchlight 2 is the world. Most RPGs you get your main quests and your side quests in town then you go do them. Not Torchlight 2. Sure, you get your main quests in town, but side quests are all over the place and range from simply rescuing people from bandits to delving into old crypts in search of certain relics to taking revenge on some dead pirates for a ghost. The world feels alive, people are out there, not all huddled in the towns.

For a cartoony game they put a lot of attention to detail, little things like skeletons reaching out at you from cages, skeleton generals being impaled on walls by a greatsword, ripping the sword out and attacking you with it. Monsters coming down from the ceiling or up from the floors, breaking through the walls, etc. About as much detail as you'd expect from Diablo 3.

There are also quite a bit of cool features in Torchlight 2. You can come across chests that are, for a lack of a better word, haunted. To open these chests you need to first defeat the ghosts guarding it. I came across an altar that was similar, you needed to fight waves of increasingly harder undead in order to get the loot from it. There was an area that was riddled with bear traps. There are chests for which you need to get a key. Unlike Diablo 2 it isn't one key fits all, you have to kill a monster which drops the key for the chest. And much more that I can't even think of right now.

I honestly cannot stress how much fun I had with Torchlight 2 from the beta. As soon as I had money I ran out and pre-purchased it, if you love action RPGs I suggest you do the same, on Steam you'll get a free copy of the first one, which if you already own it is giftable. At 19.99 if you can't quite afford Diablo 3 Torchlight 2 will make up for it until Diablo 3 is a bit cheaper.

And now, screenshots!

Saturday, May 26, 2012


My Rating: 8.5/10
Desura Community Rating: 8.2/10
I would like to start off by saying this game is highly underappreciated. For $0.99 you get MORE than what you pay for.
Fortix is a very simple arcade type game, your little knight dude starts on the outside of the map which is tinted...your goal is to capture the tinted areas for points. To finish the level you must capture the fortresses which is easier said than done.
When you travel into the tinted area, you are succeptable to attack by dragons and cannons. It is simple in concept to get rid of your enemies, capture a dragon inside a tinted area and he's gone, capture a trigger to set off a catapult to destroy the towers. But these things are easier said than done.
This game lets you control it via the mouse or keyboard and let me tell you right now, play with the keyboard or you are shooting yourself in the foot, it's so much easier to control with the keyboard. 
If dragons and catapults were not enough to contend with, don't worry, each level has a time limit urging you to work fast, but fear not as you have powerups on your side (what's an arcade game without power ups, eh?) Stop the dragons, point boosts, stop the cannons.
Honestly it's a simple game, there's not a lot to say, it does not feature multiplayer, but the most fun I had in the game was doing a hotseat multiplayer with my friend, we'd just take turns. A great, fun game and everyone should have it on either Desura or Steam.

Faerie Solitare

My Rating: 8.5/10
Desura User Rating: 9.3/10

First thing I'd like to say about this game is it is NOTHING like your standard Klondike solitare that comes with Windows. To anyone who doesn't know Solitare card games there are plenty of variations, Microsoft just chose a really popular one. Pretty much any card game that is played by one player is a Solitare game, so honestly there is a lot of room for variation.

The first thing I noticed about Faerie Solitare is that it is a forgiving game, not really in a way that makes it less fun, in more of a way that gives it a casual or family feel, there is nothing hardcore about this game other than the hours someone might spend on it.  

Each game you play through 9 hands of Solitare. You have a goal for each game consisting of 1-3 objectives that have to be completed within those 9 hands. It starts off very easy 1 simple objective and starts getting harder at a pace you don't even really notice until all of a sudden you're on a level with three objectives and you just can't seem to do it.

The basic game goes as follows:  You have your foundation stack to draw from, you must match cards to the card on the foundation stack. Cards can be either one higher or one lower than the foundation card in order to match. When matched, the matching card becomes the new foundation card. Ace is considered both high and low in this game, so for example if you draw a king from your foundation pile you can play an ace on that then play a two on the ace.

There is no joker or wild card in the game, but you do get cards from time to time that you save and play when you need them. In later levels these cards can become essential to make those 15 card combos as they do not break your combo streak.

Through playing the game you get money, which you spend in Faerie Land. What this does is it gives you various power ups and extras in the game, such as extra undos (yes your undos are limited in this game, so you must use them wisely), a power up that turns some face down cards face up at the beginning of the hand, a power up that if you go through too many cards without being able to make a match, it will let you zap away a card of your choice. If I remember right that power up also does not end a combo streak, and can be saved for later use. After you've bought everything extra money doesn't seem to have a use that I've found other than perhaps a total score number you can compare to your buddies and see who's the best Faerie Solitare player.

When you get through a stack of cards you have a chance of finding an egg or some resources. When you find an egg you can hatch it and make it your active pet, you can only have one active pet at a time. When you've played long enough with an active pet it will give you an option to evolve it (the game will let you know the second it's ready to evolve). Evolving a pet uses resources, and honestly I have never been short of resources, to the point of where I've never really worried about them.

To add to the fun, sometimes cards will be blocked by vines or an ice wall. In the case of vines, getting to the bottom of a certain stack (indicated with vines at the bottom) will unlock the vine stack(s). In the case of ice wall, you will see a special fire card somewhere in the playing field. Getting to and activating that fire card will melt open the ice wall for you. Getting through the ice walls and vines are critical if you want to achieve perfection on a level.

There are quite a few levels in the adventure, more than enough to provide a little bit of story. The story is pretty basic, but I think that's the best way they could have presented it. Whether you care about the story or not you end up following it, and because it's basic and each part is short it sticks in your memory and eventually you find yourself anticipating what will happen next. Enough so that when it ends it makes me want to play the second one so I can find out what happens. And I didn't even really care about the story at first.

All in all this game is honestly fun. I enjoyed playing it and somehow it managed to keep me up some nights later than if I was playing any game other than a turn based strategy (nothing can keep the midnight oil burning like Civilization...until noonish). And to be quite honest 4.99 on Steam is a very reasonable price. Anyone who likes card games should pick this one up.

Now, screenshots!


That last screenshot was mainly to show how many levels there are in the game, and each level consists of 9 hands, so it is honestly not that short of a game.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

My Rating: 10/10
Gamespot Community Rating: 9/10

The first Elder Scrolls game that I played and it will always hold a special place in my heart.

How to try and approach a game that I have spent countless hundreds of hours playing...In my mind and in my heart Morrowind is truly a masterpiece. It's predecessors, Arena and Daggerfall may have been larger, but Morrowind was the first highly detailed Elder Scrolls game. Despite it's smaller size, you can still spend at least a hundred hours without touching the main story line.

I've always loved the character creation in Morrowind, Daggerfall's was too complex, Oblivion's was good but simplified, and Skyrim's was pretty much non-existant. Morrowind's was great, like in Daggerfall they give you the option of picking from a list, answering questions to let your answers choose your class, or create a custom class. There are quite a few classes to choose from, but I've always made a custom class. You choose two major attributes which get a bonus, you tag a specialization (stealth, combat or magic) the skills in the selected category get a bonus, and you choose your skills.  You get a set number of primary skills, a set number of secondary skills (both recieve bonuses) and the rest are tagged as miscellaneous skills. Choosing a specialization and two attributes to get a bonus should be left to last as you decide which skills you want to use as I was always all over the place (but the game doesn't penalize you for being a jack of all trades). You also choose a birthsign (which is similar to the guardian stones in Skyrim except you can't change it) which gives you a bonus either in the form of a constant buff or it will give you abilities. And, obviously, before you choose all that, you choose a race, which is where you NEED to start thinking about your character because they tell you exactly what skills each race gets a bonus to, unlike Skyrim which pretty much just says "Kahjiit make good thieves".

This game gives you a wide variety of choice, once you leave the character generation the game will never push you in a direction, not even in the slightest. In fact, if you're not paying attention during the character creation and you don't ask the last NPC in there certain questions it is possible to not even start the main quest (though you could always go back and start it at any time). One of the most beautiful thing about Morrowind is it's openness, explore the vast world, delve into dungeons, join the assassin's guild and get contracts to legally murder people, do quests, B&E places, the choice is yours.

Quests range from simple and mundane quests such as clearing out a storage room of rats (what, not a basement for once!?) or convincing a guy to give back a pair of stolen pants to really long and involving like doing a pilgrimage to several different sites in order to join the temple or delving deep into dwarven ruins to fine a puzzle box only to go back and unlock a door and delve deeper into the ruins. While most of the Morrowind quests aren't really THAT unique, there is quite a variety between them, enough so to keep most people interested for quite a while. The expansions also add great quests chains, in Bloodmoon you get to join a faction previously in the game, but unjoinable, and you get to help them build an effin town which you get to make choices on how it's built! There's also a quest chain where you get to choose whether or not you want to be a werewolf!

There is more than enough items to provide for variety, more weapon and armor types than in Oblivion or Skyrim, they even have medium armor and spears in Morrowind, how cool is that!? It was probably taken out in later games because I always went medium, ebony and daedric were just too damn heavy! Enchanting items was a bit stupid in Morrowind, for enchanting you had all your known spell effects available. You had to go to an enchanter, choose effects that you personally know, and go off your own skill level for making the item. Why then, was there a need for an enchanter?

Spells were a great thing in this game, there was a decent variety and not only that you could make your own spells! Go to an NPC that offers spellmaking (this one makes a bit more sense than enchanting) and choose effects, whether it's a touch or ranged spell, if it's ranged you get to choose area of effect, choose magnitude (damage, or level effected, etc) and duration (if applicable) and it tells you the gold cost and the mana cost. The major flaw with this is a fundamental flaw in Morrowind's leveling system. You can make a spell that is too crappy to even use and it will raise your skills, essentially letting you train your skills without having to spend gold, and without a trainers max skill level cap.

Navigation in this game was one of the major flaws in my opinion, there were no waypoints on the map, the questgiver told you to go to such and such location, or to head in a direction such as north, you'd have to wander around trying to find the place you need to go. There also was no fast travel, need to go back to town to sell off your shit? Walk there bitch! No mounts either made that a royal pain (though you could fortify your carrying weight). In some ways the lack of fast travel really made me appreciate the world though, I got out, and I saw it, it's like the difference between going for a walk or going for a drive, if you go for a walk you take in a lot more of your surroundings. Don't get me wrong though, the game wasn't so bad to navigate, the game had a taxi service, only each town only had a limited amount of choices so sometimes it was like riding a bus, you needed to hop from town to town to get to one place. Also all the roads (not little paths, just roads) had numerous signs telling you which way to go to get to towns further down on the road.

Here are a couple screenshots:

There is too much to say about Morrowind, but I think I've touched base on the game enough already. If there is not enough to interest you in the base game there are a TON of mods available out there, and I would like to tell you about two really ambitious ones. First one being the overhaul mod
to sum this one up, it brings the graphics up to modern standards and changes the sounds (I personally prefer the original sounds) there are a TON of options with the installer to change settings and keep vanilla sounds. One mention is that with the better bodies mod that it includes there is a nude version and an underwear version, keep that in mind if you don't want your kids seeing nudity.
Here's a video on the overhaul mod's graphics:

The other great mod is Tamriel Rebuilt
Basically to sum this one up, Morrowind is a large province, look up a map of Tamriel. The problem is Morrowind only takes place on Vvardefell, a very large island, and the expansion, Bloodmoon takes place on a smaller (but in no case actually small) island. Tamriel Rebuilt aims to re-create the entire province of Morrowind in six parts, they are still working on it, part one is complete, part two is available and progress on the other four parts is coming along. I could not get both mods to work together, but they are supposed to be compatible.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Worlds Biggest Pacman

My Rating: 7/10

Now it's not often that I'll be reviewing a browser based game , but this game definitely deserves to get out there somehow.

So one day I was using Stumble Upon to wander around the internet and my browsing stopped at I was about to click Stumble again and decided to check it out.

The major thing that bothered me about Pac-Man was the simple fact that when you went off the screen you just came right back on the other side. On Worlds Biggest Pac-Man you go off the screen and you go onto a completely new map. This opens up a whole new dimension for Pac-Man, exploring.

To top that off, all the maps are user created. While this does mean you'll run into some bad maps, most of the maps actually seem to be quite decent. You can logon using Facebook and create your own maps to add to the site as well, and best part about that is you get to choose where they go on the main map.

While I highly doubt anyone will spend hours at a time on this site, the game is great if you want to kill 10-15 mins. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

King's Bounty: The Legend

My Rating: 8.5/10 User Rating: 4.5/5

For some unexplained reason even though I never once read anything about this game, I've wanted to try it, knowing absolutely nothing about it. Then the 1C pack went on sale on Gamers Gate and I thought why not.

The very first thing this game reminded me of was old Turn Based RPG/Strategy games (Heroes of Might and Magic, Disciples, Age of Wonders) but without the Strategy. Your hero is merely a commander, in battle he can cast spells and it is from the prospective that you are commanding troops through your hero, but he has no actual battlefield presence.

 Basically you go around completing quests, fighting monsters, getting items, and leveling up your hero. When your hero levels up you get runes which are used to unlock abilities in the three ability trees (is three ability trees what every game uses nowadays?) and you get to choose one of two of your heroes stats to upgrade. (there are more than two, the game just gives you two options to choose from).

As far as your troops go, you can only command a maximum of 5 unit types, your leadership stat will limit how many units you can have total for each of the 5 slots. You can split troops, but the leadership limit is global. If you have a group of 20 archers, and 20 archers is your max, you can split it into two groups of 10, but you cannot have two groups of 20. Your troops morale is based on what kind of troops you have in your army...My archers had very poor morale because they were pissy because I had undead and robbers in my party (yet for some reason the priests didn't seem to care about the undead).

Battle is fairly easy to understand. Turn order is determined by invisible initiative rolls, which I'm assuming work like D&D (base initiative + roll determines turn order) considering that there are ways via spells to increase initiative. Each unit has their own turn, to move and/or attack or use special moves, when it is one of your unit's turns, you get a chance to cast a spell once per round. Spells can be cast from scrolls or from your spellbook, but in order to have a spell in your spellbook you need to learn it first (to do this you need to have the corresponding magic skill, order, distortion or chaos, and enough magic crystals to learn the spell). Scrolls are used up once cast, but spells from your spellbook use your heroes mana. (if you do a lot of spellcasting it's always good to use both scrolls and the spellbook, especially if you get the later perk that lets you use your spellbook twice in one round).

There are some items in the game that are upgradeable, and the way the game goes about it is pretty interesting. If you choose to upgrade an item you will have to battle the items "keepers" to unlock it's new abilities. The battle difficulty depends on how good the upgrade will be, the main flaw being you can run into a battle you cannot possibly win without even knowing it. The main thing that's different about these battles is not only are you facing enemy troops but you are facing gremlins as well, usually about 3-4 of them. There are two kinds of gremlins, ones that cast support spells on their allies (your enemies) and ones that cast destructive spells on your units.

The major problem for me is the main quests (I'm running on the assumption that the quests the king gives you are main quests) feel like the rest of the quests in the game, even if their goal was to make a non-linear game, the main quests should feel important. I've only done one quest for the king, I've felt more engaged with some of the side quests than the king's quests, which makes me question as to whether there really are any MAIN quests in the game or not.

All in all I've been having fun with this game and I would recommend it to anyone who liked the RPG turn based strategy games or any RPG gamer that is looking for something different.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Pakkuman's Defense

My Rating: 7/10

A pac-man clone mashed with tower defense, surprisingly good!

Normally I try and stay away from pac-man clones, but as I was reading about the games available in the Indie Buskers bundle, the concept of this game intrigued me for some reason. As I started playing I found that this game was actually fun! Finally, a real use for those things pac-man eats!

The game is simple, like pac-man, you must avoid the ghosts or die, and you pick up the little things scattered throughout the maze. Unlike pac-man, levels are randomly generated and ghosts will keep spawning at random (and in random spots) until you finish the level or die. You can build towers on the walls to shoot the ghosts to give you a chance to finish the level. Points are based on money left over first, and then kills.

I have not yet beat a level, but here's a picture of one I found to be a pain in the ass (I got stuck in the vertical corridor) Edit: I just made it to the second level, same type of symmetrical generation as the first, but different colored floor, and more ghosts.

As you can see from my screenshot, all levels are symmetrical

This game is available over at the Indie Buskers bundle you can get the bundle for a buck.

Revenge of the Titans

My Rating: 8.5/10
Desura Community: 9/10

Revenge of the Titans is described as a Tower Defense with RTS elements, tower defense on wikipedia is described as an "RTS offshoot" (which is also how I classify tower defense) so for me, the way they describe the game was pretty strange until I started playing it.

What sets this tower defense apart from all others is two major points. The first point being that like in a normal RTS game you must gather resources. You do this by placing a gathering building near the crystals to mine them. The second point being there is a research system. Normal tower defense, once you get past the first level you unlock another tower, and possibly another after the next one and so on and so forth. In Revenge of the Titans, after each level you pick a technology or a building. Each building you can choose requires certain technologies researched, and some technologies give you bonuses to damage, armor penetration and such.

Mostly other than that it plays out like your standard tower defense, you spend your money (gained from pickups, killing enemies and mined resources) on buildings and your leftover resources (along with the level completion bonus) are carried over to the next level, so in this game, hoarding resources is actually a good thing as it will help you out later in harder levels.

I have only played about an hour of the game and have not seen all of the enemies yet, but there are armored enemies, enemies that seem to move by leaping then pausing, leaping then pausing, there are larger, stronger versions of enemies and there are boss enemies. There are probably other types of enemies in the game that I haven't come across yet (possibly flying enemies?).

All in all I have been really enjoying this game and would highly recommend it to any Tower Defense fan or someone looking to get into the genre.


My Rating: 9/10 User Rating: 4.5/5

If there ever was a sim game that got smashed with real time strategy and actually came out good it is Stronghold. You build your castle where you want, how you want, and then (if you're not in an economic campaign or "free build") protect it from enemy troops and animals such as bears and wolves.

Multiple play modes await in Stronghold: Military campaign (the main story), where you wage war against evil lords. Economic campaign: you have a goal to reach for goods produced and a time limit, not much story, but this campaign is in no way shape or form easy! You can siege famous castles (or custom built castles). You can test your castle building ability in the "Siege That" challenge mode where you have to hold enemies off from your custom built castle. There is also a free build mode where you can "peacefully design your ideal castle", or in my case, design a massive, ugly POS trying to expand to keep people to fill the jobs to make sure I have a steady income of resources.

There are various map packs available online (as with any game, some are excellent and better done than the base game and others are steaming piles of fail) and there are even a few mods out there to enhance gameplay.

Gameplay is simple, you need houses to get peasants, your peasants fill jobs (such as farming and processing food, gathering resources, hunting, weapon smithing, etc.) Idle peasants can be recruited into your army if you have spare peasants and spare weapons (troops do not count towards your maximum population). Build walls to defend your castle including towers (so your archers can still shoot your enemies) and gates (just don't leave them open or there's no point to the walls!) walls seem to deteriorate very quickly, so always be prepared to build new pieces in their place.

An element that reminds me a lot of Lords of the Realm is the happiness system. You can tax your people to get gold, but if you tax them too much they will become unhappy and leave the castle. There are ways of making your peasants happy, such as drowning their sorrows in ale, for example.

No matter what I day about this game I cannot do it justice, it's available at or you can get the Stronghold collection on Steam which includes every Stronghold game except the third (the newest one). If you enjoy Stronghold I would recommend checking out Stronghold 3, a lot of people were disappointed in it but that's mainly because it was too similar to the first. It is in no way shape or form worth 49.99 but if you see it on sale you'll probably enjoy it.

One final thing: one beautiful (to some people horrible) thing about this game is there is only one voice actor. This is really noticeable with the female characters, whether or not this was on purpose or due to a lack of funding I'm not sure but it gave the game a subtle humor. The soundtrack is also great.

The Ball

My Rating: 6.5/10
Gamespot User Rating: 6.5/10
The Ball is another good first person puzzle game. The main reason my rating is low is because of the cost of the game. The game is basically just a standalone version of a UT3 mod
Whenever you hear "first person puzzle game" you probably think Portal, most other first person games that include puzzles more fall under action because puzzles are a side thing. The Ball is another good first person puzzle game that should not be overlooked.
The mechanics to this game are simple, you walk around, you can jump and swim, and you can push and pull the ball. I can't quite remember the story or how you get the ball as I've just been playing this game a little bit from time to time.
For all puzzles in the game you will need the ball (mostly to push buttons for you). There are parts where you need to leave the ball behind and go solve a puzzle to come back and carry on, those parts I have never felt so helpless in a first person game. Here I am, trapped in ancient ruins, my only defense (or companion for that matter) is a giant ball bigger than me and it can't come with me :\.
The ball is also your only defense against enemies (yes, there are enemies in this puzzle game) you can push it to roll them over or wait until they get close and run them over.
All in all a solid game, built on the Unreal Engine 3, but the 19.99 price tag is probably what will kill this game for most people, 9.99 to no more than 14.99 this game would be worth it but a whole 20 bucks? Watch for sales ;)

Baldur's Gate 2: Shadows of Amn and Throne of Bhaal

My Rating: 9.5/10
Gamespot Community: 9.3/10 users: 5/5

I would like to start this off by saying that I have not actually played the first Baldur's Gate game, I hear it is also great, I just haven't gotten around to it yet.

I'm sure most RPG gamers nowadays have heard of Bioware, and they would more than likely think Knights of the Old Republic, Dragon Age, or Mass Effect. Pesonally I think back to Baldur's Gate 2 and it always puts a smile on my face. Anyone who has played Icewind Dale (1 or 2) or the original Baldur's Gate is fimiliar with the Infinity Engine. Please do not confuse this game with Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance as the gameplay is nowhere near the same at all.

Baldur's Gate 2 follows the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons rules, so anyone familiar with D&D will be able to hop right in. While the rules may seem strange to anyone who has never touched D&D or D&D based computer games before, the game presents it in such a way that anyone can pick it up and play.

The game is a party based RPG, you create your initial character (which since it's D&D based includes alignment, and apparently the game penalizes you if you break your alignment) and start the game, you then find 3 party members (and later a fourth) and once you're out of the initial dungeon there are quite a few party members to choose from. One big thing about this game is you HAVE to be careful about your choices, the game not only makes you stick to your chosen alignment, but if you act out of your party members alignment (say you have all good characters and you're an evil dickhead who attacks children in the street) your party members WILL leave you (after a warning or two). One great thing about this game is not only do you control your characters development but your party members as well (it irritates me when games won't let you do that). One of the main flaws I found is that there is an over abundance of good aligned characters, and it can be difficult to make an evil party, often times you have to resort to listening to the whining of neutral aligned characters.

The game goes from great story, to a point where the story pretty much stalls (you have to raise a large sum of money to continue the main quest) but when it stalls, there are massive amounts of side quests to do, and then back to a great story right until the end. The expansion also had a great story, but it felt like it didn't really continue on from the first whatsoever.

The engine was great, it let you choose if you wanted real-time, turn based or anywhere in between with choosing when the game autopaused, you could have it pause after every single thing that happened and plan out a complex strategy if you really wanted to, or throw it on real time and go "RAAAAR ME SMASH!!!!" Though, since it's D&D mages can be a real pain in the ass if it's on full real-time.

The game also, interestingly enough for the time, let you change difficulty level on the fly. Personally when I first played the game I had never seen this feature before and I was a bit shocked.

The last thing I want to say about this game is that the AC system is a bit messed...its like golf, the lower your AC score is the better. When I first played it as a kid I was wondering how in the hell leather armor was better than full plate, then I realized how it worked. They are re-mastering the game (as well as the first) and updating the engine a little bit, they announced that in March, hopefully we'll see the AC system normalize a bit more...but I hope they keep the AD&D rules and most of the way the game is intact because for me it's a timeless classic.

The game will work on any version of Windows up to 7, however any version XP or later will require the XP patch otherwise you will not be able to interact with NPCs for some reason. Wikipedia says that it is available on Mac but I'm not sure if they mean the re-mastered version or not (which is also going to be available on Iphone and other I stuff). Hopefully they make a Linux port, but we'll have to wait and see.

Edit: I would like to include that the game does everything by dice roll (like in D&D) so damage is displayed as XdY instead of X-Y. The difference being if your damage is 2d4 the game is rolling two four sided dice for a damage threshold of 2-8 damage instead of just telling you 2-8.

Both Baldur's Gate games are available on, and I would say 9.99 is a great price for the second (which includes the expansion) I gladly paid 20 (mind you that was at least 5, 6 years ago). First one (with expansion) is also on there for 9.99 but personally I think I'll wait until they re-master it...if it's any good I'll get that version, if not I'll pick it up there. (second baldur's gate)