Thursday 4 August 2011

Gaming Reviews

Fallout: New Vegas - Old World Blues
Available now on Xbox Live and PC (Coming soon to PSN)
Review by Rob Wade

In Old World Blues, your character is mysteriously whisked away to a mysterious research facility, the location of which is…a mystery. I’m a writer… Anyway, your spine, brain and heart are removed and replaced with synthetic equivalents (something I’d be grateful for after my gym session this week), and you are charged with restoring order to the facility, rewarded with the above cybernetic implants as well as a minigun which shoots magnum bullets (awwwwww yeaaaaaaa) and a 5-level bump to the level cap, which is accessible at all times. Even players, therefore, who don’t want to play the DLC can pay 800 MS points for a 5 level-cap bump. However, you shouldn’t do that. You should buy *and* play this DLC, because it’s awesome.

The thing I’ve always liked about New Vegas over its predecessor is that the atmosphere is actually done better to the point where I’m beginning to prefer the semi-sequel purely based on its atmosphere and the western theme. I was therefore sceptical to be whisked to a remote science facility, thinking that it would detract completely from the Western-themed ambiance that I was enjoying. However, this game is done well enough that it doesn’t actually matter where you are.

In terms of gameplay, here is a warning. This DLC is absolutely nails. I’ve never died so much in a session of Fallout: New Vegas as I have when playing through this DLC. Familiar enemies include the Cazador (or “bastard fly” as I found myself yelling) and the Nightstalker (or “stupid fucking dog”). The latter caused me particular headaches when, after sneaking all the way to the end of my objective, I found myself attacked by *four* of the bastards, and died almost instantly. New enemies include the Robo-Scorpion (which pretty much functions like the previous ones, except it can shoot lasers from its stinger. Yep. Also of note are the legions of extra-tough robots in the game, of which there are many. Thankfully, new weapons include a couple of weapons specifically designed to do extra damage to robots, which helps immensely.

Ultimately, though the DLC does little to expand the game beyond the usual fare in terms of how the game is played, the formula is solid and works really well in this instance. Players will find themselves visiting a good number of the locations on the map anyway, but it’s spread out sufficiently well that you will find your curiosity piqued enough to visit them all, especially as you start seeing the experimentation being carried out at the facility.

Just a small gripe other than what I’ve already mentioned, and this goes to all developers: Just because Portal is an amazing series, doesn’t mean that every game should have test chambers. Or indeed a female computer voice.

The Emotionally Fourteen Games Rating
Graphics: Not changed from the original games, though the space theme is really well done.
Sound/Music: Some new music and sound effects, which fit right into the existing game.
Gameplay: Some of the genuinely hardest experiences I’ve ever had playing New Vegas, and some really fun gameplay.
Lasting Appeal: 35 new areas to explore, and a decent length of main quest with some decent side-quest length.
Summary: The strongest piece of DLC for this game yet. 8/10

Revenge of the Titans
Puppygames/Iceberg Interactive
Available now on PC
Review by Rob Wade

Never is there a more satisfying moment than when a reviewer picks up a game, takes a look at it and goes “Meh”, only to actually play it and find it to be utterly engaging. I’m pleased to say that Revenge of the Titans falls right into this category. Billed as a tower defence game with real-time strategy elements to give it that extra layer, Revenge of the Titans deals with an alien invasion. As commander of the Earth forces, it’s up to you to travel the galaxy repelling the Titan invasion, using strategic placement of units.

Tower defence games, it could be argued, have reached a plateau. The formula is established, it works and that’s really all there is to it. What’s nice is that Puppygames have tried to do something decent with it, incorporating a tech tree approach rather than the traditional mechanic of just thrusting new units and improvements on you at pre-determined points. It’s a nice idea, and it works really well. Users can find themselves improving one gun, or researching new lines of defence. As a change, it’s a welcome one, and it’s refreshing to know that the core gamer crowd isn’t in for as tough a time as it may have appeared when “Hidden object” adventure games caught on in their dozens.

Graphically, the game falls into the “simple” category. Colours are good, though, and the game looks crisp in motion. Granted, it’s not the most ambitious game graphically, but it’s done enough to separate itself from the traditional tower defence fare, and in the graphics department this is evident too. Sound and music are pretty straightforward too, with some retro-sounding music and some satisfying sound effects which do the job of making you aware that the enemies are dead without making their screams chilling enough to haunt you in your dreams.

Should you buy this, then? The answer is an emphatic “yes” in this case. The game is really enjoyable, and is of the ilk which is challenging enough to make you say “just one more go” if you fail the level. Failing that, if you clear the game without breaking a sweat, there’s the ability to go back and beat your previous scores for the perfectionists who think they could’ve done it a little differently. All in all, a really refreshing game, and one that will give hope to the cynics.

The Emotionally Fourteen Games Rating
Graphics: Simple but stylish.
Sound/Music: Some enjoyable retro-style music and sound effects, all of which sound pleasant enough to the ear.
Gameplay: Tower defence at its core, but the strategy element adds an extra layer of depth.
Lasting Appeal: Plenty of levels, plus the option to score attack makes this a particularly good game for lifespan.
Summary: A genuinely entertaining game, and one you should definitely pick up if you enjoy the tower defence games. 8/10

Top army engineer Tyler Locke is given a mysterious ancient manuscript. Written in Greek, it initially seems indecipherable. But with the help of classics scholar Stacy Benedict, Locke comes to understand that this manuscript could provide the clues to the greatest riches known to mankind - the legendary treasure of King Midas. However, there are others who are also hot on the trail, and it rapidly becomes a race against time to crack a code that is both fiendishly difficult and potentially deadly...

A sweeping, gripping read, The Midas Code blends fascinating incidents from myth and legend with a modern plot that will have you guessing to the very last page.

Thanks to our friends at Sphere, we've got five copies of The Midas Code to give away! For your chance of winning, send your name and full postal address to before midday on Thursday 11th August, making sure to put "The Midas Code" as the subject. The first five entries out of the electronic hat after the competition closes will receive a free copy!

Don't forget to put "The Midas Code" in the subject line. Incorrectly labelled or blank entries will be discarded.

The Midas Code is out now, courtesy of Sphere.

Entries limited to one per household. Offer open only to postal addresses in the UK and Ireland.

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