Thursday, 16 September 2010

Gaming Reviews

Lost Horizon
Deep Silver/Koch Media
Available from 17th September - £19.99 (PC)
Review by Rob Wade

The year is 1936. The Nazis are sending expeditions to the farthest reaches of the Earth in search of occult weapons to aid them in realising their maniacal plans for world domination. When Fenton, a former British soldier and a hapless smuggler, sets off in search of his friend Richard, missing since an expedition to Tibet, he had no idea that he is embarking on an incredible adventure that will lead him across three continents to the hiding place of an ancient secret that threatens to destroy the world.

The game plays much like a classic adventure game, in the vein of the Monkey Island series or the Indiana Jones games from yesteryear. Players play the role of Fenton in his search for Richard, while at the same time trying to avoid the nefarious Nazi commanders as well as local triads. The game, thankfully, doesn’t require you to actually do any evading at high speeds, as I’ve always found that this sort of gameplay mechanic can be fiddly as all hell in a point-and-click.

The downside to this game really is that it’s a victim of its own budget. Voice acting at times in this game is particularly bad, and although the characters are well rounded 3D models, the backgrounds and environments are 2D, meaning the game looks a little strange as a result. Remember when you were a kid and you could guess which objects in a cartoon were going to be picked up because their border was different to stationary objects? Sort of like that.

However, the game is very well done. The point and click elements all work absolutely fine, and the game even gives you a hint system to show which objects can be looked at or interacted with in order to help you out with puzzles. At times, incidentally, the puzzle-solving is absolutely inspired, sometimes leaving you racking your brains as to the solution. Refreshingly, the challenge is the kind that leaves you relieved and proud of yourself when you finish it, as opposed to making you give up before it’s done.

All in all, though, the game is a pretty good one. It plays out like a British Indiana Jones re-imagining, with a suitably British sense of humour permeating throughout. Definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for one of the old-school adventure games we’ve been so lacking until now.

The Emotionally Fourteen Games Rating
Graphics: Smooth 3D characters on 2D environments, with 80s Cartoon Syndrome as a result.
Sound/Music: Sweeping Indiana Jones-style music, albeit with some questionable voice acting at times.
Gameplay: Satisfying point-and-click adventure gaming, with some clever puzzles throughout and a story that keeps you intrigued.
Lasting Appeal: As with all adventure games of this type, the replay value is null and void.
Summary: Ultimately, it’s a real shame that this game will not get the attention it deserves. A refreshingly original adventure game. 7/10
Burn, Zombie, Burn
doublesix/P2 Games
Available Now - £6.29 (Playstation Network) & £6.99 (PC, via Steam (version tested))
Review by Rob Wade

In Burn, Zombie, Burn, the goals are simple: keep Bruce alive, and get the highest score possible. Standing (well, ambling) in your way is a never ending horde of the rotting, stinking and stupid undead. Armed with a series of increasingly damaged weaponry and explosives, your job is to score as high as possible. The good news? A burning zombie gives a higher score than a normal one…

Burn, Zombie, Burn plays as a 360 degree shoot-em-up, with players controlling motion through the keyboard keys and the turning through the mouse motion. In theory, this should work really well as in any first-person shooter, which is still hailed rightly as the most accurate control mechanism out there (until the new motion controllers catch on, at least). Unfortunately, it doesn’t.

Mouse control doesn’t work 100% effectively in this game, as the character is sluggish to respond to the mouse turning. More damningly, firing is mapped to the left mouse button. This wouldn’t be so much of an issue, except the game doesn’t allow you to view in a full screen using 1024x768 resolution, meaning you can inadvertently start dragging the game window around when you are trying to shoot.

Now, these may not sound like major gripes, but I’m of the belief that a game should be playable using any control method, and should at the very least be viewable in a full screen. That resolution is by no means uncommon among PC gamers, in fact a lot of them now run full HD resolutions.

It’s a shame as well, as the gameplay itself is quite fun when it does work. The score attack idea has been done a few times in games like Geometry Wars and to an extent Asteroids, but this is definitely a well-made variation on those games. Also, for the price of admission, there is absolutely tons of game modes in here. There are three main modes, with many different levels, and the high score element definitely keeps you coming back for more.

The Emotionally Fourteen Games Rating
Graphics: Good 3D cartoony graphics, though nothing absolutely astounding.
Sound/Music: A lot of cool gun sound effects, and some decent Offspring-style guitar rock music.
Gameplay: A top-down (of sorts) 360 degree shooter with not-completely-working 360 degree controls.
Lasting Appeal: Plenty of different game modes to keep you busy, definitely good value for money.
Summary: This is a hard one. The game is ultimately very entertaining if you have an analogue controller. However, I’m a firm believer that a game should be accessible by all control types, especially on PC. 6/10
Mystery PI: The New York Fortune
Popcap Games
Available Now - £9.99 (PC only - thank fuck)
Review by Rob Wade

Help the family of an eccentric billionaire find his hidden will and recover his vast fortune! But here's the catch: you only have 17 hours to track down the clues hidden all over NYC. Solve the case in time and you'll earn a $25 million payday!

Incidentally, don't worry about solving it in 17 hours. The realistic time is about 40 minutes. If you take 17 hours to solve one of these, you’re too stupid to own a computer, let alone to buy games for it.

Seriously, after half an hour, this game actually made me angry.

Mystery PI is what’s known as a ‘Hidden Object Adventure Game’, or as I like to think of them, a ‘Let’s make the most pointless exercise possible and see if people will pay for it’ plan. Sadly, the presence of the tag line ‘100 million online players’ on the box, although some of those will be playing the free online version, means that they’re certainly a successful venture.

The job of the player is to piss away 4 hours of their life searching for a list of objects in a picture. Here’s the twist: They’re not always that easy to find! Oh God, what an Earth-shattering game mechanic. Apart from the fact that you can still find all the objects about fifteen minutes ahead of schedule, that’s genius right there.

I really can’t say much more about this game. For the love of God, play the online trial version if you really must play these games. If you *really* like these games, buy all of them on release day and are after a challenge, you might then try doing a little Hidden Object game of your own. You can play this at home with very little in the way of equipment. In fact all you really need is yourself. Ready? Here it is.

Try looking for a point to your existence.

The Emotionally Fourteen Games Rating
Graphics: The game does indeed have graphics, in that pictures are graphics.
Sound/Music: The usual Popcap fare, not annoying but not stupendous.
Gameplay: Clicking on random objects in a large picture.
Lasting Appeal: Three game modes, five mini-games.
Summary: : For ten pounds, you can get the original Mass Effect. Need I say more? 1/10


THE SWORD WITH NO NAME GIVEAWAY

Experience an inspirational and breathtaking journey back to Korea's fabled Joseon Dynasty with this stunning, action-packed adaptation of the life of legendary Empress Myseongseong: the inspirational leader who stirred the courage of her nation in the face of seemingly overwhelming foreign aggression.

A young woman of noble birth embarks on a dangerous cross-country journey, where she encounters an infamous bounty-hunter. Honour-bound, he becomes her protector and against all the odds they fall in love. A few years later, to fulfill a sacred promise, she must enter the royal court and ascend to the throne as Empress, leaving her love behind. However, when aggressive Japanese forces gather against her nation, the bounty hunter will once again stand by her side as a devoted bodyguard. As the conflict escalates to all-out war, her irrepressible leadership will sustain her people and give them the hope of victory.

Tragically, as her reputation spreads, she will become a target for assassination, but one man's courage will make all the difference...

Thanks to our friends at Showbox Media, we've got two copies of The Sword With No Name to give away! For your chance of winning a copy, send in your name and full postal address to swordwithnonamegiveaway@yahoo.co.uk before midday on Thursday 23rd September. The first two names out of the electronic hat will win a free copy each!

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