Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A Kingdom for Keflings Review

cover art
     Hello everyone and happy Wednesday, hope your all doing great.  I was browsing through the Steam store and saw that the new Civilization came out recently.  For those of you who don't know Sid Meier's Civilization is a game of growing your small settlement out of the stone age and into the future of man, which during the course of the evolution stage, you are seemingly an  immortal dictator that everyone follow without question.  Although I am fond of Civilization, when I saw it on Steam, I thought of Kingdom for Kefllings for some reason.  I played this game long ago in the long past year of 2009 before I discovered Civilization.  Basically a more basic version of Civilization with more direct interaction.  A Kingdom for Keflings was released for Xbox Arcade and then the following year on PC.  Mainly focusing on the Xbox side of the story, it uses the player's Microsoft avatar as the interactive sage you will be.  The game starts with a small pile of resources and you, a 20ft tall giant that will help and physically aid the Keflings into growing their society into a thriving middle ages city where everyone is happy and content, so basically the opposite of the middle ages. The Keflings are small elf-like people who you guild, in order to do this, you will set them to work chopping down trees for wood, which are then processed into boards which can then be made into houses.  The same can be said for stone, which can be mined for ore or made into stone blocks used to build walls and castles.
a town in the process of growing
Mills are built to create wood products, forges to create things from rock, weaving shops to process wool into cloth and some weird shop that process crystals for whatever reason.  Houses are built to upgrade the Kefling population, they can then be upgraded into manors. Schools can be built to teach certain skills to the Keflings, then you can send them to college.  The work force being educated in the middle ages, what is going on here? While the Keflings gather most of the supplies while taking them to and from locations to be made usable, the player creates the buildings and to upgrade them once the proper materials and blueprints are at hand.  Tools that the Keflings can be discovered by gathering a glowing resource, be it tree, ore or crystal, which are seen rarely.  There are also player upgrades to be discovered through doing the same action, these allow you to gather resources more efficiently and walk faster.  While the last one may sound stupid, it funny how slow you move when carrying 10 tons of wood to your village that is a few miles away.  One thing that bored me was that there is no wildlife or other creatures that threaten your society, so their is no danger or consequences for your choices. As with any world building game, there is a large sense of satisfaction at starting with some twigs and turning it into thriving city. There are more features to be held within this game but since its been four years since I picked it up, I will leave you with the good memorable bits.  Would recommend, though the music does tend to drive one insane after awhile, still fun though.  I hope you all enjoyed and I will be back next week with more reviews.  This has been Jacob Arnold, signing off.
 must watch in highest setting to be visible

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Mortal Kombat Review

Universal Box art depicting Scorpion and Sub-Zero
     Hello everyone and happy Wednesday, hope your all doing great.  Today I'm going to be reviewing a game that revived the genre and became known to everyone.  Mortal Kombat is a game that most kids my age had the luxury of playing in the arcade that went on to evolve into something greater.  Starting out as a 2D arcade fighter, it kept true to its roots until after the second one.  After that it went down hill with crappier gameplay and appearance.  Since Mortal Combat X is out until April 2015, I will instead review the 2011 version, MK9.  Now for storytime, so sit back and relax.  In the beginning of time the six realms were created and the Elder Gods decreed that if one realm was to merge with the other, one would have to defeat that world's champions in ten consecutive mortal combat tournaments.  Later in time, there is a buff guy that wears a skull helmet named Shao Kahn who is as powerful as a god and is leader of Outworld, a realm.  He has set his sights on Earth realm and sends his emissary, Shang Tsung, to go wage the tournament against Earth realm.  Since the tournaments begin, Raiden the God of Thunder had been guiding the champions of the Realm against Outworld's fighters.  After nine losses to Outworld, Earth realm is on the edge of destruction.  Raiden puts forward Liu Kang who defeats all the contestants and Shang Tsung himself, sending them packing. In order to save his life from his master's wrath, Shang Tsung that the tournament should be
Fight in progress, X-ray move used above
hosted in Outworld, so Shao Kahn can defeat them personally.  Liu Kang beats everyone and punches a hole through Shao Kahn's chest and it kills him, but not really.  Fast forward through some other games where people understandingly start to get lost, we come to a giant pyramid that everyone starts killing each other trying to get to the top.  After everyone is dead, only Raiden and Shao Kahn remain.
    Right before Shao Kahn kills Raiden, he sends a vague message to his past self saying "He must win".  So basically Raiden comes to the understanding that he must do it all over again.  So theres the story, the nice thing is that you can buy this game and you won't have missed anything at all.  Combat is what you'd expect for a 2D fighting platform, you can punch and kick or mix for some varied combos.  Each character has their own moves, you could play as the undead hellspawn ninja Scorpion or the four armed half-dragon Goro and many other characters.  They all have moves unique to them, combos having different animations and effects.  The combo bar is a new feature added in MK9, allowing combos to become more powerful or if the bar is charged fully the player can execute their x-ray move.  This attack is extremely efficient and shows the interior damage being done, thus the name.   A large feature of Mortal Kombat is the fatalitys, moves that can be used after your opponent is defeated to finish them off in a gruesome way.  These vary from chopping them into many different pieces with swords to turning into a dragon and biting them in half.  Gore to the max.  Mortal Kombat is a game best shared with friends, like a gory version of Guitar Hero. Other than that, theres not much to say about it, great game though. Hope you all enjoyed and I will be back next week with another post. This has been Jacob Arnold, signing off.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Bioshock Review

North American Box Art
     Hello everyone and happy Wednesday.  Today I'm going to be exploring one of the most imaginative games that isn't a medevil fantasy game.  That game is Bioshock, an game best known for its plot twists and imagery thats developed and published by 2K Gmaes.  Bioshock received critical praise for its atmosphere and storytelling, so without further pause I will begin.  You are Jack, a man on a plane which crashes into the Atlantic Ocean.  Jack being the only survivor, swims to a lighthouse that is strangely close to the wreckage.  Jack goes inside the lighthouse and boards a submarine, which takes him to the amazing underwater city of Rapture.  He arrives to find that Rapture is in chaos and fighting a civil war to top it off.  This minute long video can explain things better than I can, so watch this unless you wish to be hopelessly confused. So now that you've watched that video, we can resume.  From ADAM overdose, splicers are formed.  They are people whose minds have been warped by plasmids, tonics that give genetic powers ranging from shooting lighting from your hands to releasing bees out of your arms to swarm enemies.  So these plasmids made most the populace go crazy and try to kill Jack as soon as they see him.  So Jack exits the submarine and hears the voice of Atlas over the radio, who asks Jack to help him and his family escape Rapture, and Jack can come with them, yay! So its up to Jack to fight his way through splicers and maniacs alike to escape Rapture. Unique in my eyes, Bioshock is carried both by its story and its gameplay.  Since I cant talk about the story least I spoil anything, I will explore the gameplay.  Coming out in 2007, this game is still graphically impressive by today's standards and still a marvel to admire.
Jack fighting a Big Daddy
Bioshock is an FPS at heart, throwing guns at you to create your own arsenal. Your weapons can be upgraded at Power to The People machines, which can only apply one upgrade per machine before they self combust for some reason.  Many plasmids can be obtained throughout the game which give different powers, there are also different levels for each plasmid, which can rise up to level three becoming more powerful with each level.  There are also Gene Tonics which affect the speed of the player, how fast they hack machines, what weapons do more damage and so forth.  Both plasmids and gene tonics can be purchased at a Gatherers Garden machine with ADAM.  Ah, ADAM, the stuff that makes the world go round, the thing everyone wants.  This magical substance can only be obtained from Little Sisters (see video) who are guarded by Big Daddies, the toughest enemies in the game.  They are giant armored creatures that were once men and have one purpose: protect their Little Sister to the last breath. Theres one on the cover, with the Little Sister in the backround.  Once the Big Daddy is dealt with, the player can choose to save the Little Sister, turning her back into a child and receiving 80 ADAM. However if your a heartless bastard that wants the bad ending, you can harvest them for double ADAM but they will not survive.  Besides, you get all the ADAM you need by saving them and it leaves a   "I did the right thing" feeling, also plays a heartwarming tune when you save them.  Theres also alot of plasmids and tonics that are useless, so you don't need double ADAM.  Since there is many weapons, there are also many different ammo types such as anti-personal, armor-piercing and explosive rounds are effective against different enemies.  Hacking is also a key part of the game, allowing Jack to hack turrets, open safes, and security cameras that spot enemies that call weaponized drones.  This is done through a pipe mini game that is getting the water from one end of the square to the other.  With masterful story telling and fun shoot 'em up gameplay, Bioshock is truly a unique game.  I find it fun and enjoyable awesome game with a good replay value, I recommend it to anyone who has a pair of hands.  I hope you all enjoyed and I will be back next week with another post. This has been Jacob Arnold, signing off.
Early Bioshock Trailer    

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Assassin's Creed III Review

Box Art
     Hello everyone and happy Wednesday, hope your all doing well.  As of recent times I have been reviewing alot of small studio games (excluding Skyrim) along with some indie platforms.  So today I'd thought I'd review a game I almost got around to reviewing last year but didn't.  Assassin's Creed III is perhaps my favorite of the series and with the 7th one coming around the corner I'd thought I...oh whats that? Your confused that I'm reviewing the 3rd one when the seventh one is coming out? Well the answer is quiet simple...kind of.  Also there are 12 other AC games I didn't know existed until recently and don't matter. The first game followed the adventures of Altair Ibn- La'Ahad (during the Third Crusade in what is now Turkey) on his quest for redemption because he killed some innocent, had his death faked then became awesome enough to replace the other 200 Assassins who he knew.  The next three games follow the life of Ezio Auditore da Firenze (during the Italian Renaissance during the 15th century into the 16th) on his quest for revenge at the death of his family, which then turn into building the Assassin brotherhood to its peak in Italy to battle the Templars (these guys that believe that humanity cannot be trusted with it's own freedom and must forced into submission, also these guys are sown into important roles in society to better manipulate it. It Ubisoft's Aluminati.) This takes him from Florence to Rome across the sea to Constantinople and back again.  So thats a quick recap of the last games, with AC4 following after this one which has pirates, YARR.  Now quick rundown on the story, read my version or watch this video, maybe both.  So the Templars (the bad guys) and the Assassins (the good guys) have been fighting for hundred of years over having a free world devoid of tyrannical control or one controlled behind the shadows treating people like puppets. I'll let you match the options with their right partners.  So the year is 2012 and the protagonist is Desmond Miles, a guy who is lucky enough to be a descendant of the most influential and important Assassins of all time.  Desmond was raised in a solitary life to be an Assassin but ran
Cast of characters, no idea of the guy on the far right and Aveline isn't necessary to the story
away, years later in his 20s he is kidnapped by the mega corporation Abstergo, which is actually led by the Templars.  They put Desmond in the Animus, a machine that allows one to relieve the life of their ancestors. After reliving a part of the life of Altair who redeems himself by killing nine high ranking Templars, he finds out theres a tenth Templar; his mentor. He fights his mentor and grabs this artifact that is really important, touching it and discovering the location of several Pieces of Eden, powerful artifacts left behind by the First Civilization like the one hes holding. These guys came before everyone else did, with a more powerful existing before the Sun wiped out all life on the Earth.  They created many artifacts to stop the end of the world but it didn't work. Desmond is yanked back out of the Animus and is told he is of no further use to the Templars and is returned to his room.  Certain rare people have this sixth sense called Eagle Vision that allows them to see things usually unseen.  Desmond sees that Subject Sixteen, the guy before Desmond, played finger art with his blood on the walls which is pretty fucking deranged. Though that guy did go crazy and kill himself because the Animus was becoming reality for him.  Thats right, the Animus will kill you if your over exposed, just like drugs. Although through long periods of time in the Animus Desmond can pick up on the bleeding effect, allowing him to learn the skills of his ancestors in a short time.  Desmond is then rescued by Lucy, a double agent working within the Templars, but is actually an Assassin.  She gets Desmond out of there and takes him to a safe house to meet Shawn, this British guy who you don't like, but then like and Rebecca this tech girl who you like and keep liking.  Desmond hops in the Animus and dives into Ezio's memories.  Some stuff happens, Ezio kills most the guys behind his family's murder, reunites the brotherhood and discovers a special vault beneath the Vatican which contains a message from Manirva, a First Civilization person, for Desmond in the future. WHHHAAAAA!!!
     The message is a second solar flare is coming thats going to kill everyone, and they must find the answer the First Civilization left behind to save the world the second time around. Desmond hops out of the Animus, fights some Templars attacking the safe house, then fleeing to the Villa Auditore, Ezio's old villa, he hops back in to the Animus and back into Ezio's life.  Ezio's villa is destroyed, the brotherhood is shattered and Ezio goes to Rome to reunite the Assassins and defeat the new threat.  Some stuff happens, he kills the big baddie, and hides an Apple of Eden inside the Colosseum.  Desmond and Co. heads there and finds the Apple which freezes everyone, Juno, another First Civilization person tells Desmond that Lucy was working for the Templars the whole time.  WHHHHAAAAA!!!!!!  The Apple possesses Desmond and makes him
Connor fighting some Redcoats
stab Lucy, she dies and Desmond goes into a coma from overexposure to the Animus.  He wakes up in a virtual world and meets a version of Subject 16 he injected into the Animus before he offed himself.  He tells Desmond that he was put into the Animus to save his life and that he must revisit the unseen years of Altair and Ezio to separate the two in his mind so he can wake up.  Revelations happens and isn't really important other than at the end Ezio somehow sees Desmond and gives him everything he learned from the Apple of Eden also establishing a link back to reality.  Also when Altair died he sealed himself inside this library with another Apple of Eden, which is for some reason glossed over.  Desmond wakes up to find his dad standing over him telling him they found the place with the promise of saving the world. So they walk in, unlocking a door thats open with Ezios Apple. Finding ancient ruins with a wall of energy separating them from Earth's salvation. The ruins are putting out an Animus signal, which the gang acts upon and sends Desmond into the Animus.  He takes on Haytham Kenway, an Assassin sent across the sea in 1754 with the artifact are heroes need to open up the "prevent apocalypse" door. He gets on the ship and arrives in America, bumping into Benjamin Franklin along the way.  He meets Charles Lee and sets off to recruit and reunite members to his cause.  While doing so, he disguises as a Redcoat to get into a camp of British soldiers led by a former friend, now enemy.  In the act they take a slave caravan full of Native Americans.  Upon arriving they set the natives free and Haytham sneaks his way through the camp to find the man there looking for isn't there.
Haytham and Kaniehti:io
 Haytham asks Kaniehti:io, the leader of the Mohawk prisoners, if she recognizes the strange amulet he has.  She says she will take Haythem to its source if he kills General Braddock, a man whos been killing the Natives in his quest for expansion.  Also hes a former member of the order. He finds Braddock, chases him and Kaniehti:io tackles George Washington off his horse who is right next to Braddock.  Haytham kills Braddock and takes his ring.  Kaniehti:io takes Haytham  to the source of the amulet, he finds out the amulet is not associated with this cave.  Haytham goes back to Boston with his friends and decides Charles Lee has proven himself and puts the ring on his finger. Also through creative writing that avoided the subject until now, it turns out that Haytham and his friend are Templars.  WHHAAAA!!!  Years pass by and the player is now playing as Ratonhnhake:ton, the son of Haytham and Kaniehti:io.  He is a young child living in his village and is playing games in the forest with his friends when he is attacked by Charles Lee.  The two exchange words and Lee knocks out Ratonhnhake:ton.
     He wakes to find his village burning and his mother trapped beneath a beam in a burning hut.  He tries to save her, but cannot and she dies.  Years later Ratonhnhake:ton is talking to the Elder of the Village about his mother, she reveals Lee was looking for an artifact and the village is there to protect that artifact.  Ratonhnhake:ton picks up the sphere and is given a vision by the Juno that he must seek the Assassins in order to save his village. He sets out and finds Achilles, a retired assassin living at a homestead in the countryside.  After some stubborn negotiating Achilles reluctantly agrees to train Ratonhnhake:ton.  So they set to work and Achilles decides to call Ratonhnhake:ton Connor to make the settlers friendlier towards him. So the stage is set and Connor (Ratonhnhake:ton) will set out on his epic quest to save his people and fight a revolution to form a nation while witnessing many historical events.  Like Assassin's Creed II, the game has three open world maps that you can rotate to at any time; Boston, New York and the Frontier. Several new features have been added to the game and some have been improved on.
Connor hunting an Elk
The freerunning is smoother and looks nicer, also allowing natural things to be climbed like cliffs and jump between trees, something previously unseen in the series.  In the scenario of being chased the player can side under a fence or even run through part of a structure to gain some distance.  The counter system has improved allowing for failure instead of making you a one man army, making you have to press a counter button before than executing a counter attack that range from firing the pistol at the target to stick a bomb to them while throwing them at a group of enemies.  During gun fire sequences enemies can be used as a body shield and finishing moves pack a satisfying punch  as you duck and dodge your way through enemies.  Guns appear in the form of muskets, the player can carry two pistol, firing up to four shots with the double barrel pistols. These weapons prove to be useful yet take long to reload, therefore not seeming to overpowered.  A new stealth weapon is Connor's longbow which can be used to kill enemies silently.  Another new feature added in AC3 is hunting, allowing another use for the bow.  Through hunting, the player can acquire things that people want and sell pelts for money. Hunting can be direct with bow and musket or can happen when the player is not even present with the introduction of snares mixed with bait. A new crafting-trading system is added in which Connor can send pelts or make weapons, furniture, saddles and such things to sell.  Doing this you load the goods up on a ship or wagon and sent it to a certain store or trading post, depending of the good to the certain trading post, you will be paid according to what that post wants.  A religious convent will pay more for pelts than cannons and so forth.  This will be the players primary source of income so they can purchase new weapons and ship upgrades, which are the most expensive things in the game.
Connor's Tomahawk, awesome
The crafting also allows the player to craft personal objects like swords and guns.  This is quite useful as the best pistol is acquired through this system.  The only flaw with this system is while naval missions are fun, there not necessary to the gameplay like in AC4 where being a pirate and owning a ship go hand in hand.  Also the money you make mainly goes towards this, so once you've crafted all the upgrades, there is no motivation to make money, which is hard mind you.  In my experience the easiest way to make money is to go to this little corner of the map and kill bears while waiting for more bears to show up.  So after killing twenty bears, each which are killed which are killed through a three step quicktime event, you start to grow weary. The stuff that's hardest to make requires a craftsman of that skill to a certain degree.  Certain characters throughout the world can be invited to stay at your homestead to make a life for themselves.  You will come to bond with the inhabitants of your little piece of property and come to treat them as family.   The gear you are given has no armor tacked on to it, forcing you to rely and your reflexes otherwise be scraped off a redcoat's boot.  The weapons you are given follow a similar trend, in the sense there's no reason to buy new equipment because despite the stats applied to weapons they all stab things with equal force.  Connor's arsenal consisted of his two hidden blades, a bad ass looking tomahawk that you will never get rid of because its bad ass.
Achilles explaining the ropedart to Connor 
He also had a sword, two pistols, poison and a new weapon: the rope dart which allows Connor to hang enemies from trees and pull them down in the heat of battle.  The assassin recruitment is back, although sadly with little use.  Although the assassins can now use tactics such as sniping enemies from a distance, planting bombs and pretending to be the enemy.  Forts are now added, the player can take Templar forts to further their influence so they can recruit assassins and be able to walk around without being tackled every twenty feet.  The wanted system returns, if the player has committed crime, posters will be put up and heralds will yell about stuff you did, Connor can also visit a printing press to wipe the slate clean.  In between trying to save the free world, Connor can play games like checkers, Bowls, Morris, and Fanorona.  If you don't know what those are, look them up.  The new dialogue system is interesting, allowing you to have conversations with people throughout the world.  One that really blew my mind is that you have a drink with an assassin you recruited and find out Haytham killed his uncle before his eyes to get the magic amulet thing you're fighting for the whole game.  Despite AC3 being my favorite of the games, even as the AC4 came out and was fun, the one thing that bothered me most was Connor.  Despite being a major all around bad ass who has good moral premise and will always do the right thing, he is humorless.  Its such a dramatic change to go from Ezio, smiley happy lady's man to Connor.  He has his moments which make them special because of this.  Overall as a game I'd give AC3 a solid 9 of 10.  I hope you have enjoyed this post and I will be back next week.  This has been Jacob Arnold, signing off.
Trailer recommend HD viewing