Thursday, 19 August 2010

Gaming Reviews

DarkStar One: Broken Alliance
Kalypso Media
Available Now - £44.99 (Xbox 360)
Review by Rob Wade

DarkStar One: Broken Alliance is a space combat game with a 1st-person viewpoint, putting you in the role of Kayron Jarvis (which I realise is a terrible name, I seem to get a few of those in games I review – remember Edge Maverick from Star Ocean 4?) aboard his ship, the DarkStar One, as he sets out to find the man responsible for betraying his father.

This ship is unique in the galaxy as the only ship that can absorb certain alien artifacts dotted around over three hundred planetary systems. Players can play this game more or less how they want, with a large amount of freedom given between game quests to either smuggle, trade legitimately, hunt bounties or even become a privateer attacking cargo ships.

If you’re looking for a similar game to compare it to, the best example I can give is a game called Freelancer on PC. In that game, you could go through a storyline completing side-quests and challenges along the way. Actually, scratch that. The most faithful example of a similar game is the original game from which this is ported, DarkStar One on PC.

There are a couple of issues with this game, mostly in the fact that the gameplay is quite repetitive. You go from one star system to another, battling pirates (I suppose they’re space pirates, which is more awesome), getting money to spend on upgrades to your ship and completing missions both in the main storyline and the terminals of each space station. The mission types available in the game are Sabotage, Recording conversations, Cargo ship attacks, pirate gang destructions and so forth, but ultimately most of the missions degrade into one of the following:

Enter star system. Find Pirates. Destroy Pirates. Receive reward.
Enter star system. Find container. Destroy Pirates. Return container for reward.
Enter star system. Protect cargo ship by destroying pirates. Receive Reward.


While these missions are fun for the most part, the game isn’t exactly particularly varied in its execution. Having said that, it could just as easily have fucked its basic gameplay up and not been fun at all, which this game has definitely not done. The game itself is fun, and the revenge storyline you’re initially sent off to investigate is enjoyable enough as you go along, with more depth brought in through the introduction of Eona, the sidekick female pictured on the box.

The game looks beautiful in motion, with space looking great running, and the game not suffering a hint of slowdown despite a large number of ships and objects on screen at any one time. The music is good in this game, but the sound not so much. Clearly when the developers were deciding which creatures to give different voices to, they forgot that if any random characters in the game were of that race such as pirates and so forth, they should all have the same speech patterns. As it is, some of the Mortok, the game’s deep-voiced aliens, seem to have been voiced by random Europeans instead.

Ultimately the game is a lot of fun, but at an RRP of £44.99 there are better games out there which provide a more varied experience. However, if you can find this game at a good price in a sale, then it’s definitely worth picking up.

The Emotionally Fourteen Games Rating
Graphics : A great looking game, with nice big expanses of open space laden with scenery. To the game’s credit it doesn’t slow down or anything, despite having so many items on screen. Frequent loading may compensate for this however.
Sound/Music : Lots of typical space opera music, certainly not to the quality of the best sci-fi movie soundtracks, but a good indicator of how the game is going at times. Fucking woeful voice acting, but hilariously so.
Gameplay : Strong 1st person space combat, although it can get a little repetitive at times.
Lasting Appeal : Plenty of planetary systems to explore, but most of the missions seem to fall into the same format.
Summary : Although it’s repetitive, the game is good fun and definitely worth picking up for the right price, which the RRP of £44.99 is most assuredly not. 7/10
Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies
Nintendo/Square Enix
Available Now - £34.99 (DS)
Review by Brad Harmer

You begin your journey in Dragon Quest IX as an angel in the Kingdom of Angels. You and your fellow angels are seeking to move into the God's Land, by helping and protecting your mortal town and earning the thanks of the villagers which intern will earn you 'Star Auras' which are the key the God's Land. But this is not to be as the kingdom of angels is attacked from below by a mysterious and powerful force.

The force scatters the angels, and knocks your character into the mortal world, where you awaken without wings or a halo in the town you formerly protected. Having lost most of your angel powers, but the ability to see deceased and magical spirits, you must travel the mortal world to find a way back to the kingdom of angels. You must help and protect the villagers to gain 'Star Auras' that will enable you to return to the kingdom of angels.

This is, of course, so much bollocks.

If you’ve ever played a JRPG* before, then you’ve played this game before. Miles and miles of walking? Check. Micro-management of your protagonists gay-ass costume? Check. Obnoxiously cute monsters that make it all but impossible to find them a threat in any way? Cruelcumber check.

Seriously, what the fuck is up with JRPGs are their complete inability to feature monsters that don’t make me really cross? I loved Lord of the Rings: The Third Age because it was basically Final Fantasy VII with some Uruk-Hai and a Balrog in place of whatever pun-based monster was being used as cannon fodder in Final Fantasy that year.

If you’re a fan of JRPGs will no doubt hail this as being so in-depth-vast-innovative or whatever. If you’re into Manga and Anime and 30 Seconds To Fall Out Romance, then you’ll probably love all the cute characters and their fruity outfits as well. Casual gamers, and other normal people will be unimpressed. There’s absolutely nothing here that hasn’t been done a hundred times over since 1994.

* The “J” here is used as in “J-Horror” and “J-Rock” (ie. “J” stands for “FUBAR”).

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Violence:
It’s satisfying to kill the buggery out of irritating cartoon monsters.
Sex/Nudity: Someone, somewhere will jerk off to this game. That’s JRPGs for you, I’m afraid.
Swearing: None.
Summary: Maybe I am being overly harsh on it. There’s a decent enough game here, but there’s nothing new to win over new fans. If you’re into these sort of games, you’ll have a great time...but don’t bother if you’re not. 7/10


3:16 CARNAGE AMONGST THE STARS GIVEAWAY

This high-octane science-fiction role-playing game written by Gregor Hutton has your space troopers killing bugs all across the Cosmos. You'll advance in rank, improve your weapons, slay civilisation and civilisation, and find out who you are through an innovative "flashback" game mechanic.

See where your tour of duty in the 3:16th Expeditionary Force takes you and your friends. Join in Terra's plan to kill every living thing in the Universe to protect the homeworld. Revel in the kill-happy machismo and enjoy a campaign of carnage amongst the stars!

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