Sunday, December 30, 2012

My New Years Resolution

Your all probably wondering where the hell is my FarCry 3 video.

To which I have two things to answer that;

1: good things take time

2: I won't promise anything.

My New Year's Resolution this year is to no longer make promises I can't keep. That goes double for my Video game review blog.

I am sick of tired of trying to crank out videos and blogs at the last minute only to produced half-assed, horrible crap that no one wants to read or watch anyhow. I need to step up my game. Give Quality over quantity. And I know just how to do it.

I told you about how I intend to make a new website for this blog, right? Well, I think it's high time I put my money where my mouth is. I will be taking a break from this blog both to enjoy the New Year holiday with my pal Justin Berghier, and so I can research and develop for a brand new webpage that looks and works ten times better then this crappy blogger page. 

I will not make any promises, as per my vow, so I won't be able to tell you when this will all get done until I know for sure and am ready to get started. 

To all of you who helped give me over 800 views in less then 3 months, I thank you very much. My only regret is that I wasn't able to deliver more quality product and that the feedback was so limited. I need to either be more perceptive and/or make a site with a better communication system. 

Don't worry, I will still have the same witty humor, the same signature 7WS (complete with its own twitter page, once all is complete) and will continue to combine video game reviews with more controversial and insight based work. 

I just need to make it look better, give you a nice RSS feed, email list, forum, and a comments section that works like silk. If all goes well within the next month, you will find my new site to be an awesome upgrade and a welcome new addition to your daily readings. 

 I will get back to you when my research is complete and everything is in order. As of now, Ryan's Video Game Reviews is officially under maintenance.

Hope you had a Happy Holiday and have a Happy New Year!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Hotline Miami

Hi everyone.

A lot has happened in the last day or so, so lets get started.

First off, I would like to announce that I have finally FIXED MY XBOX 360!!!


Now that all of my technical issues and faux pas hae been dealt with, I will continue to make reviews of your favorite Xbox 360 Games, starting with my promised Far Cry 3 video review and the Black Ops 2 Mulitiplayer and Zombie mode in the following weeks. Bout freaking time if you ask me.

Next on the agenda, you know Sergey Titov? The executive producer behind The War Z who I told to get his head out of his ass? Well, he must've either gotten a splash of cold water that morning or taken my advice, because he did exactly that a few days after I tweeted him the review.

He made an open letter that listed both his apology and plans to reorganize his staff and implement a new policy. One of the things he admitted to the most was his failure to communicate. I applaud him for this, as admitting fault is one of the bravest, and therefore hardest, things someone in his position can do.

I wrote him a letter right back thanking him and promising a 7WS that will congratulate him properly. While it is unclear weather or not he will keep his promises, I will give him this much for his humble apology.

To Sergey Titov:

Thank You

Very Much

For Being Honest :)

Even Albert Einstein was wrong sometimes. And like Titiov, he made himself great by admitting it. Play your cards right, Sergey old boy, and you just might make history.

Okay, now for the third and final thing before we get to the review, and that is a small disclaimer about the game I will make this review about.

Warning: The following game, despite not being rated by the ESRB, is an extremely violent and contains graphic material. Of which includes harsh language, disturbing amounts of blood and gore, and objectionable content in general. Do not let your children buy this game if you cannot accept this kind of content.

There; the public service announcement is done with. Now lets get to reviewing

Don't let the shiny blue sky and pink palm trees fool you; this is not a game for the meek. It's basically a game about a man who wears a mask while committing violent home invasions against miami vice gangsters. the object of each level is to kill every person in the building. How you do this is up to you. Tactics that work include ambushing them, sneaking up behind them, slamming the door in their face and killing them before they get up, and of course blowing head off with a firearm. Real kids stuff. The only real difference between you and the bad guys is that you have both the element of surprise and a real creepy rubber mask. You get new masks with each level, and each mask is a different animal, with a different and sinister sounding name, each one modifying your abilities and experience.

For today's 7WS, we are going to try something a little different. Instead of making each part of the Synopsis an independent remark, we will combine them as an adjective for the game. 

You see, in the video game industry, we have what are called Game Design Documents, which are basically huge technical documents that serve as an instructions book for those actually making the game. One of the first things written in the GDD is what's called a High Concept. Basically, you describe the game your making in a brief sentence spanning about 20 words or less. Example; Science Fiction action game starring a cyborg soldier warring against evil aliens on a strange ring shaped homeworld.(Halo).  You get the idea.

The 7WS for this review will work the same way, but instead of 20 words or less, I will boil it down to just seven. It will still detail what's good, what's bad, and what you should do about it. Now it also serves simply as an adjective to describe the gameplay experience. Here we go.

Hotline Miami is a:

Fantastic Sounding

Pixilated Looking

Adult Recommended Game.

Now we have both a descriptive text, complete with the good, the bad, and the proper action.

Let's dissect our synopsis.

Fantastic Sounding

I labeled the game Fantastic Sounding only because it combine truly captivating and atmospheric music with frighteningly realistic sound effects. The gunshots sound like true live firearms, the gushing blood and snapping of necks puts you on edge if the creepy music doesn't, and the urban mixes that make up most of the story based scenes and the theme music sounds like something they would play in a club in Miami. Very nice, very stylistic, and very, very engaging. Makes you feel like you are both having a psychological breakdown and living in downtown Miami Florida. The bad side of that city...

Also a good thing about this game; while it can be hard to get used to, the controls are extremely tight and responsive, which makes it easier to deal with the multiple challenges and the fact that it only takes one good hit to do you in. The high difficulty of this game helps make it mature, and the controls turn potential frustration into an interesting challenge. 

Pixilated Looking

This game could almost be called an 8-bit GTA 1 mod made to feel like an acid trip. Because that is what it looks like between the seizure-inducing color flashes and barely discernible visuals. What were supposed to be thugs in milk white suits look like circus clowns at first glance. And if you didn't have that creepy animal mask on, you would basically look like a green, slightly altered version of the bad guys. Plus most of the characters you meet in between missions look like carbon copies of each other. All the bums look the same, as do the people behind the desks. The only pictures that look distinctive are the weapon close-ups in the upgrade screen and the masks, both up close and in game. Makes you wonder if adding a mask was originally just a design decision...

Note to those with epilepsy; this is a game that has a lot of bright, blinking lights and psychedelic visuals that can make you dizzy. Wouldn't recommend it to you. 

If epileptic seizures aren't an issue, however, this might be the closest thing you get to actually dropping acid without ingesting tablets of LSD. It was obviously intentional, as the game tries hard (and succeeds, somewhat) in being deeply psychological. You literally start the game talking to people in masks who explain your missing identity. Yes; it follows the cliche' amnesia story structure. Go figure.

Adult Recommended Game.

Self explanatory, really. Don't let your kids play this game. Or your friends with seizures. If you have a kid with epilepsy, get off this review post right now and clear your history. And uninstall Steam. And make sure they are taking their prescription.
If you are among the 18-35 male majority of gamers who don't have epilepsy or problems with violence, this is something worth an Alexander Hamilton. He's the guy on the ten dollar bill, in case you were wondering. Just remember; you are the one with the mask, and the clowns in white are your prey. Good luck!

That's it for the  Hotline:Miami review. Tomorrow I will give video reviews another shot. I have a new camera, a new microphone, and will make sure the format doesn't do anything weird. Crossing my fingers this time. See you then!

Thursday, December 27, 2012


Now that the holidays are officially over, I will now proceed to fill your broadband space with content concerning the interactive medium we call video games!

Since my comment repellant is still in full effect, I still didn't get a response to my request for recommendations.

Since none of you guys gave a particular request, it looks like I get to pick one for you; here's a review of the game

Never heard of it? Neither have I until I got a hold of this handy little video called "Games you might not have tried", courtesy of the guys and gals at Extra Credits.

Check it out here

Copyright disclaimer: I in no way own any part of this webseries. I just happen to be one of their fans and was inspired to write reviews because of them. 

to Allison, Dan, James, and Kate, take this for what it is; a tribute and a citation.

Okay, now that the legal jargon and proper praise is in order, let's start off this review right.

7WS: Seven Word Synopsis

Greatly Engaging

Minecraft Wannabe

Buy This Game

Okay, now that I put seven words towards the experience, now it is time to break down what I mean.

If you are satisfied with this, come back tomorrow as we delve into the gritty world of

If not, read on for a brief but in depth analysis for each aspect of the 7WS. Here we go.

Greatly Engaging

To be brief on what Terraria actually is, it is basically a 2D adventure game that, like Minecraft, takes place in a world in which you can add and remove blocks that make up the surrounding terrain. You break trees with an ax to gather wood blocks, you chip away stone with a pick ax to get stone blocks, etc. The idea is to survive and explore as long as possible as monsters attack you during the night. Unlike Minecraft, however, the game Terraria features items, weapons, and quests that make it feel like something more then just a virtual lego pile.
Nothing sparks the interest of the public like something that is built exclusively to engage you. Terraria succeeds where Minecraft can often fail only because of a few select design choices that makes the game even more fun then its predecessor that started it all.

You start with tools

You might notice in the interface that you always begin with three things; a sword, a pick ax, and a regular ax. They are weak as you grandma's gall bladder, of course, but they do work, and they can be exactly what you need in a pinch. The pressure is off as far as building a house is concerned, only because you don't need to worry about arming yourself through your crafting skills. You can fight monsters almost instantly, and when you do, you can gather items and coins from their dead bodies. The coins can be traded with certin NPCs for more tools, which allows you to build you inventory over time.

More Tools, weapons, and enemies.

Simply the fact that you can fight right away is a game changer. Mix that with the fact that it not only allows you, but sets you up with enemies (primarily, the jumping green slime) makes it feel more like a traditional platform adventrue game with block building elements rather then just a 2-D Minecraft mod. With wildly radical items like Boomerangs, shurikens, blowguns, and flaming arrows, you begin to get that nostalgic feeling you might get from playing one of those really good Mickey Mouse platformer games, where you were given different costumes that did different things. 
With this kind of "traditional gameplay" mixed in with crafting and building mechanics, I began to realize that this game had just as much in common with The Legend of Zelda 2: the adventure of Link (shown on right) as it did with Minecraft. You have an open world quest, side scrolling action, and special adventures and bosses. Really makes the experience it's own world. Literally
Simplified Recipies
Who hasn't been to the Minecraft wiki? I have, and it usually is because I can't figure out how to build something I need. If I have one block in the wrong place, I will not be able to build anything.

Not so with Terraria; building is streamlined, only because it is simple as having both ingredient A , B, C, etc.
No grid to get you mixed up!
The Depth is Amazing!

No getting bored of this game once you discover every monster; the details I have witnessed only scratch the surface of the game. Both figuratively and literally. There are countless quests, items, and features that become more and more available as you continue on. Reading the Wiki alone is an awe inspiring experience, and you will pee you pants in excitement as you learn just a few things you can do in this game.
Okay, that is the positive aspect of this game. Now lets move on to the negative.

Minecraft Wannabe

You may have noticed that I have been comparing this game to Minecraft a lot. You want to know why? because Terraria is to Minecraft what Eminem is to Vanilla Ice and the Iphone is to the first Blackberry smartphone; a well marketed variation of the same exact idea. Terraria is a great game, but part of what makes it so great is that it does the exact same thing Minecraft did and added it to an action platformer from the 1990s. Harsh, but true. 

Every core mechanic beyond the traditional, from the building and crafting to the day and night system, is borrowed if not downright copied from Minecraft. Even up and coming features of Minecraft, like the experience system and the enchanting of weapons and tools, seem to creep its way into the game like a vile, corrupting snake. While the game stands on its own feet really well, I wish I could see things that it did original that wasn't from circa 1995 and/or Mohang's masterpiece. I often feel that I can get just as much out of my existing copy of Minecraft and my virtual console on Wii that I get from Terraria. This shouldn't be a problem for casual players, who might not even know what I am talking about. But if you don't have a fresh look on adventure platformer games and/or Minecraft experiences, this game might seem like something you already have.

That's the negative. Now Here's what I recommend you do about it. 

Buy This Game

It's only ten dollars; five dollars, if you catch the holiday special. Do yourself a favor; Download Steam if you haven't already, go to their store, search for Terraria, and click buy. It is worth the small amount of money.

That's it for today. Tommorrow we will go over Hot Miami, as mentioned before.

Also remember; I do requests, so feel free to request a review of any video game you like in the comments section below. 

Have a good one, and enjoy playing your Christmas Presents!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Chirstmas

Now is not the time to be reading blogs about video games, let alone writing them. Now is the time to wrap last minute presents for the ones you love. Now is the time to crack open a bottle of egg nog and toast to good tidings. Now is the time to find the one you love under the mistletoe and give him or her the kiss they deserve for being there for you.

Now is the time for Christmas. Merry Christmas to all, and to all goodnight.

I will not be posting on Christmas Eve or Christmas day, so take this time and spend it with your loved ones.

If you are one of those unlucky souls who can't find someone to spend time with, go to your local library and pick up your favorite Christmas Story. Or treat yourself to some holiday sales online and spend the day fragging noobs online.

Either way, enjoy the holidays and see you in two days.

Friday, December 21, 2012

What Game do YOU want Reviewed?

I didn't think my luck could possibly be this bad, but it is.

Once I finished work on Thursday, I noticed my car was stalling. I had to take it to my local mechanic, Quenzel, to get it fixed. The next morning I find out that he is backed up with repair jobs and won't get done until later today. Meanwhile, I need to get to my father's house, get my Xbox 360 running, get a copy of Far Cry 3 to review, and make a video. I walk ten blocks to the local Shop Rite grocery to see if their red box has a copy. It didn't. I walk to the local K mart to just buy a copy. They don't have. So when my Mom gave me a ride to my Dad's house, she takes me to the one in Mullica Hill, which doesn't have it either. I decide that now would be a good day to make those multiplayer videos for Black Ops 2 that I never got around to. I just needed to fix my Xbox 360. So I get to Dad's, turn on Youtube, and follow the Eric the Car Guy video on how to fix your Xbox 360. So I take my Xbox apart, follow the instructions up to the point where they tell you to re-flow the solder (I don't have a heat gun), and I try my Xbox 360. I didn't break it, but the video still doesn't work. So I try using a little jury rig that I also found on Youtube to try to heat the solder. Still no video. It became clear that the Xbox 360 isn't the problem. I guess it's the AV cable. So I give up and take the Wii out that  brought with me to Dad's and connect that up to review Lego Batman 2. Then I realize it needs a nunchuck to play. I didn't bring a nun-chuck to my Dad's, and he isn't coming back until past midnight. So I have no ride, no way to play even a relatively recent game. and no video for Saturday morning. If you want a video of a game review, your going to have to wait a little longer. I am Sorry.

But for those of you waiting patiently for me to get my crap together, I would like to ask you a question that is probably more relevant to this blog then anything else I have asked you. I actually feel kinda bad for not thinking of this question earlier. 

What game would you like to see reviewed?

A student of my mother's suggested this, and I think it's a question worth asking. I am sick of tired of trying to put together last minute reviews of the latest games only to find a general lack of interest in it. 

So tell me; what video game would you like to see reviewed with my Seven Word Synopsis and witty banter?

It can be any game you like, from the AAA Call of Duty to the Steam Store indie game for $0.99.

If you really want to see me review your favorite game, please leave a comment in the section below and tell me which title(s) you would like to see either reviewed or re-examined if I gave it a review you didn't like. 

I already redid my Seven Word Synopsis for Batman: Arkham Asylum. I will gladly do the same for anyone else who would share their opinion politely. 

Thank you for your cooperation and patience :)

A Virus Named Tom: Winter Wonderland

Once again, I am posting a little late and on a somewhat obscure game from Steam.

For those of you waiting for me to review AAA titles, all I can say is that I just signed up for Gamefly and that patience is a virtue.

As for the lateness, all I can say is that even game reviewers need to sleep in sometimes.

So let's get down to it; here is my review of 

How many here are old enough to remember the 80s? Or at the very least knowledgeable and open minded enough to try a few of the old arcade classics in what few arcades are left in this country.

Yes, I am talking about games like Pac-Man, Spyhunter, Joust, Sinistar, Donkey Kong, and Frogger. By today's standards they are but cave drawings. By the standards of yesteryear, they were considered the same as HD TVs on steroids. Without these milestones of game-play innovation, video games as we know and love them would not exist. That is a fact.

A Virus Named Tom, and it's Winter Wonderland expansion, builds on the principles of these 80s style games and gives it an upgrade for our present. I honestly wouldn't mind seeing what this game would look like with 8-bit graphics. It even has the score to go with it.

Anyway, since the holidays are coming up and this is a holiday themed expansion, I thought I would try something a little different. Consider it an early Christmas present.

This time, in an effort to both stand out and make these posts a bit more organized, I will give my patented Seven Word Synopsis a little overhaul. Instead of simply stamping these seven words at the end of my editorial rant, I will try posting it first and foremost, then make a few paragraphs for each part of it.

It will still work the same way; two words saying it was good, two words saying it was bad, and three words saying what to do about it. Only this time, it will be one of the first things you read, and for each section of words you will get some explanation as to why I said those two words and why it is good and so on and so forth.

The following article should serve as an example of what I mean;

Seven Word Synopsis

Simple Challenges

Uninspired Story

Buy on Sale

That is the Seven Word Synopsis, which from now on I will abbreviate 7WS. Now I will explain what each segment means. 

Simple Challenges here we have the segment under review

and below is the explanation
Like I said earlier, this game resonates as a modern day arcade classic, complete with high scores, simple but engaging gameplay, and enemies you can't just shoot in order to get rid of. 

The game can be explained with a seven word synopsis of its own; Mad Scientist creates Virus to destroy City. That's the plot, the game play, and the whole concept in a nutshell. Simple as ABC. 

You basically are that virus, and you need to navigate a neon grid that represents cyber space in order to connect circuits so that they spread you glowing green virus to every circuit on the board. Just don't get hit by an enemy drone, and don't take too long. You lose power over time, and get a big chunk taken out with each hit. Follows the tenant of good gameplay being easy to learn, and difficult to master. 

I also enjoy how they deploy the interface. It does offer the immersion of actually being a virus in a machine, navigating through each part until you have complete control over it. Nice touch.

Uninspired Story rinse and repeat

As you might have figured out by the description alone, this is not a narrative driven game, specifically. The Mad Scientist is named Doctor X, his enemy is MegaCorp, and your name is Tom. And you infect circuits with a green glowing virus over a Tron-like cyber grid; not exactly true to science.

Something tells me that the Dev team wasn't taking their own concept too seriously. And that something is common sense. 

You don't read a children's book to get Shakespearean quotes, or go to Demolition Derby for peace and quiet. Thusfold, don't play A Virus Named Tom for it's gripping and moving story. Try Spec Ops for something like that.

Also, if you are wondering what the actual "expansion" is, you basically see a Santa Claus Holo Suit and enemy drones with Snowmen masks. Festive, if not cheesy. 

Buy on Sale

Given the small-minded nature and obviously low-budget production of this game, it is sold pretty cheap. I got it for ten dollars, and even then I felt that I spent a little too much.

Given that tis' the season, all prices are being slashed on Steam like tall grass in a Zelda game. 

That's a thing, for all you non-gamers out there.

Since Christmas is only once a year, and this game is sold pretty cheap nontheless, take advantage of the here and now. 

Get yourself another good way to kill time while waiting for something trivial and save a buck or two while you had.

That's it for today's review. Hope this demonstrates a better way to use my Seven Word Synopsis, and as always I encourage reader feedback in the comments section below. 
Bit of News: My Car broke down just the other day, and I am going to have it fixed all day. So therefore, I will have trouble getting from point A to point B for a while. This will make creating a Far Cry 3 even more difficult then it already is. If I cannot make one by tommorow morning, I sincerely apologize and will have it up and running as soon as possible.

Thank you and goodbye. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing(Retro Review)

Hello again everyone.

I got some nice feedback for my site now. I need to make a few "Feedback" posts every so often, just to keep up with the Jones. 

First thing I learned wasn't exactly a huge shock: My Sleeping Dogs video sucked balls. I had formatting issues with the video files, I forgot to make the gameplay capture videos fit the screen, and the back ground music clashes with the gameplay sounds and my voiceover. Plus I used the camera and mic for my computer, which was bound to be crappy. Need to find my HD flip video recorder and a better microphone. Thinking about using my Rock Band Mic, but might opt for something more professional. 

I will keep this all in mind during this week's video review of Farcry 3; with any luck, it will rock the house and give it the right kind of exposure.

Anywhoha, let's start with a bit of news and a follow up review

First the news: Remember that game I reviewed yesterday called The War Z?

Sergey Titov, the man of this unfortunate hour
You read that right. That controversy I wrote about earlier was a lot more intense then I thought. Apparently they had to make a formal apology and everything. You see, the people who made War Z, aka Hammepoint Interactive, tend to have a bad history of making promises they did not keep. They posted on the Steam store about having more levels then they had, more features then the game actually had, and when they promised to put more in with patches the fans were dismissive. Why?

Because the executive for Hammer Studios, Sergey Titov, did a similarly bad move in some of his previous games. Among the more infamous titles around the net is a PC game called  "Big Rigs:Over the Road Racing". And like the now-up-and-coming War Z, it did not deliver what it promised on the packaging. This is the subject of today's review

Simply by seeing the box that the game was made in illustrates the point. You clearly see a cop car trying desperately to cut off a huge flaming Semi. It was supposed to be a game where you had to avoid dealing with cops while smuggling illegal contraband across the border before your competitor does. 

Problem is, you never actually see any cop cars. And your opponent doesn't move. And if you turn too fast the game becomes more glitchy then an Atari 2600 in a magnet factory. The videos I posted should illustrate how bad the game was, and the fact of the matter is up until War Z, this was Titov's most famous title. Only due to the negative press. 

I did not play the game, of course; they stopped even trying to sell it before I even heard of it. But I think I saw the entire game experience, if you can even call it that, with just these two videos. I think I was lucky not to waste my money on this.

The pattern might be what is called a Texas Sharp Shooter Fallacy, (Click this link to find out more) but it does justify the intense backlash up to a point, and makes it clear why such a mistake might have been made.

Especially when you compare it to a game made by Howard Scott Warshaw that you might have heard of follows the same pattern that both Big Rigs and War Z follows. Can you guess what that pattern is? 

Howard Scott Warshaw's catastropic failure
No? Big Rigs, War Z, and Warshaw's ET game each and all had HORRIBLE production schedules. War Z tried to make an entire virtual world within a year, as promised. Big Rigs was originally supposed to be a small part of a bigger game that got split in two midway in development; only the pre-alpha title was released. And ET? only a few weeks before the holidays was what Warsaw started with. Not ideal. 

Video games are a work of art; comparable to the Eiffel tower and The Last Supper. both were made with care, precision, time, and effort. You can't build Rome in a day, and you sure as hell can't make 10,000+ km of lush, detailed environments within a year, even if you are using parts from other games. 

This and the fact that he seems to admit no true responsibility for the blatant mislabeling inspires a very special Seven Word Synopsis for him and him alone.

Seven Word Synopsis:

Get your 

head out 

of your ass!

Seriously, it's one thing to make a bad game. Even the best developers go though it; Warshaw is still hailed as a great designer, and continued making good press well into the 2000s.

It's another thing to mistakenly label your game. The only thing you really did wrong is fail to correct the description of your title prior to launch, and failed to mention that it was an Alpha. Not exactly something that gets you sent to hell.

But what will convince Saint Pete to pull the level and dip you into the Devil's flaming lava Jacuzzi tub is the fact that you turned right around and blamed the same fans who supported you every step of the way until you dropped the ball and blamed them for "Misreading" the information. Why don't you just post a picture on your twitter post of your middle finger? Save the 140 letters for something constructive.

Anyway, that's my Retro Review of Big Rigs:Over the Road Racing. The public spanking of Titov was free. 

Your welcome :)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The War Z Review

Okay, it looks like this week is going to be dedicated to Steam games for the time being. Unless I get a chance to play some PS3 or Wii, and/or fix my Xbox 360 this week, I will need to use the most handy game console I have at the moment; my PC.

Thus, lets look at a recently "released" game called 

This game has sprung some rather surprising controversy with the release of it's Alpha on steam only because the Dev team promised a lot for its release and initially given very little. While still undergoing some major patching, people all across Reddit are complaining that it had only one level, which was only 72 km, no hardcore mode, and no private servers.

 A lot of this is bunk, only because the game is obviously in Alpha stages, and even so has a hardcore mode in which you die and never recover. Plus, even in normal mode it takes up to several hours for you to be able to "revive" a dead character. The only thing the people behind War Z really did wrong is fail to communicate to their consumer base. Beware the wrath of fanboys; they want what you have promised! War Z is still a pretty decent game despite the uproar, fortunately. There are a lot of things War Z is not, however.

 Foremost, War Z is not a Left 4 Dead game. 

Why? Here is an explanation as to why, and what you can expect from the game, what it means to you the player, and weather or not you should probably spend $15+ on this title. 


Are you the kind of person who enjoys long hikes in the wilderness with no company except the chirping of birds and the swaying of the wind? If yes, then this might be your game.

Do you like feeling atmospheric suspense in desolate urban environments while reliving the most epic scenes in your favorite horror movie? If yes, then this might be your game.

Does the idea of not only fighting the undead, but starvation, thirst, the elements, and your fellow man make you want to press start? If yes, then this might be your game.

Will you only buy a game if it helps you live out your fantasy of being a one man zombie-killing machine? If yes, then this might be something you want to avoid.

War Z follows in the tradition of the ARMA II mod DayZ (not by the same guys, mind you) as a game that uses the mechanics of a shooter style action game and uses it to create an open world modeled after the zombie apocolypse. Think a Halo/Gears of War style game with a World of Worldcraft server in the setting of Walking Dead, and you got a good description of War Z. This is about survival and exploration, not violence and devastation. The game gives you a huge wilderness that you can spend hours if not literal days just walking your character through. The only thing keeping you from wandering aimlessly through lush graphics and beautiful nature sounds is the fact that your character has a hunger and a thirst bar. The only way to quench your virtual thirst and satisfy your avatar's hunger is to collect supplies from the nearby abandoned settlements. And they are usually teeming with the zombie horde. The only way you can kill the zombies (in game, mind you) is to shoot/stab/bludgeon their heads until they die. You get experience for each kill, but sadly the game has no leveling system as of yet. Once you learn to point the cursor up and spam the zombie with attacks, however, the threat of the zombie horde becomes, shall we say.... stagnant. The zombies become a lot less terrifying when all you have to do is lead one away from its brethren and smash it with a bat until its dead. Rinse and repeat, and you might as well be playing Left 4 Dead. 

The real threat, of course, isn't the people who are dead, but those who are playing just like you. If you kill enough of your fellow players (which is very easy to do, since it only takes a few hits to die in this game), you will be branded a "bandit" and will be able to kill players for their supplies. This makes it almost too easy for someone with a shotgun/rifle/crossbow/take-your-pick to simply troll the entire map until no one is left. Also, it makes it possible to be betrayed even by those who deem themselves trustworthy. I actually teamed up with someone who wound up hitting me with a bat when I wasn't looking. Had to make a new character yet again. This gets rather tiresome when you are exploring the game for the very first time, as a lot of players can never shake that "killer instinct" that has served them so well in every other multi-player game, from WoW to COD to L4D. I'd hate to say it, but sometimes games can make you over-competitive. Not school shooters or psychopaths, but definitely over-competitive. 

The game is still balanced rather well, despite its unusual harboring of trolls. I was ready to rip this game a new one for giving out micro transactions in the huge qualities my screenshot displays below, but I actually looked at the market, and while they do sell ammo and melee weapons, no firearms or projectile weapons are sold in the game's marketplace. Good thing too; Bandits are powerful enough as it, and need some serious nerfing in the Beta version. 

 How it Compares

Beyond the obvious comparison to DayZ, the only games that come close to this kind of experience are Minecraft survival mode and an old MMO called Anarchy. I mention Anarchy due to the hauntingly captivating music score and jarring sound effects, and Minecraft to the idea of changing daylight hours and of course needing to eat food and avoid zombies. Both make game like War Z an experience you won't soon forget. Even if you remember playing DayZ and the like.
The music gives you that much needed feel of tension and anxiety that seems almost inappropriate during the day. Even so, it only triggers when you are near an abandoned settlement or a place occupied by the living dead. Until then, it's blue jays singing and wood peckers pecking. One minute your singing zippity do-da to yourself, the next you realize you are alone in an abandoned trailer park with thirteen shambling ghouls. The fact that it mixes industrial music sound effects with a slow and steady ominousness would make both Hitchcock and Reznor proud. 

Also, the game tends to treat zombies not just as easy targets, but what they were always meant to be used as; a threat to your sense of security. As suggested by the Zombie Survival Guide, you must only aim for the head, never waltz in a town without a backup plan, and try to make as little noise as possible. If you shoot one zombie in the head, ten more will hear the shot and come in after you. These things aren't George Romero's shambling shufflers either; they run like the wind until one of you is dead. If you don't kill them before likewise and/or enlist some help, you will need to either wait a good few hours or make a brand new character. both of which makes dying in this game strongly discouraged. 

If it wasn't for the fact that killing your fellow man gave you Bandit status and resources, I would say that this game gives the tribute to human life that most games severely lack. But then again I got shot twice before I even had a chance to find food. so some players will need to adjust. Expect a lot of them to tell you how much this games suck, and then prepare yourself to look past their biased BS. This is not a shooting gallery game with zombies; it is an apocalyptic simulation with the walking dead. I am shocked and appalled at the number of chats I read by people who couldn't wrap their heads around it to save their lives. We really need to grow up in this industry. 


Judging by the things I can't click on yet alone, it is obvious this game is far from finished. It would have been very nice of the developers to alert their potential buyers of this upon releasing it on steam. If they do not put in the features they promised in the upcoming patches, there is going to be some serious backlash from the community they took so much time to build. Don't make promises you can't keep! Take it from someone who had to learn the hard way...

Seven Word Synopsis

Amazing Concept

Features Vacant

Buy when finished

Until Next time....

Monday, December 17, 2012

Arctic Combat Review

Alright, here we go. Going to make games like this in rapid fire now; It'll have to be PS3 and Xbox 360 on one week and Wii +PC the next. Only because I have my PS3 and Xbox at my Dads and my Wii at my Moms. If I have to, I will move them around of course :)

Now for today's review, we will be going over a free-to-play game for the Steam Virtual Console released December 6th. It will be my most recent review so far this week.

The Title is of course

And I can sum up both the experience and the idea behind it with one single sentence.

It is a poor man's Call of Duty.

Of course, you didn't click my link just to hear someone state what was probably obvious to begin with. So let me break down exactly how and probably why this game is so much like the COD franchise, and why it is very different. The good, the bad, and the ugly, as always.

The Overview
Call of Duty is considered by  many an expert to be the best selling video game franchise of our current generation. It has millions of players logging on to its multiplayer base for every stroke of the keyboard I make. I type about 45 words per minute, so that's about 45 million people fragging, shooting, and dying on a virtual video game every sixty seconds. These numbers aren't based off of any actual statistics of course; I say this only to emphasize my point. 

They say mimicry is the best form of flattery. If that is the case, consider Call of Duty to be the most flattered game on the market. From Battlefield to Medal of Honor to pretty much any game with a soldier and gun on the front box cover is based in a lot of ways off of Call of Duty. Arctic Combat pretty much takes this kind of unoriginal thinking to the extreme, borrowing everything from weapons to perks to kill streaks and game modes and putting them in a free to play game, where you buy the upgrades with points instead of simply leveling. It works much in the same way as Farmville does, as in you pay for the things you need to play the game with fake money, and buy extra cool stuff for real bucks. Farmville joins COD in being so very flattered.

Arctic Combat, on the other hand, has no real originality to deliver at all, and the only thing that keeps me from calling it a total crapfest is the fact that it is a free version (as opposed to sixty bucks plus $25 season pass!) and it has adjustable graphics.

These adjustable graphics are, to be frank, godsend to those who have computers with dubious quality video cards. If you have something that still runs Windows XP, set your graphics to low. If your computer has internal parts comparable to something from Star Trek, you can get more bang for your (hopefully) non-existent buck. This allows gamers who don't have cray supercomputers to play alongside those who are overclocking their PCs at home while I type this.

How it compares

If I had to chose between sawing my own leg of and play this game for two hours, I would wind up playing for four. That said, If someone gave me the choice to have Black Ops 2 for free or have a zillion points in this game, I would tell them to take their virtual money and shove it up their derriere.

There is simply no comparison; cue the music, Sam. 

Anything AC can do, COD can do better. COD can do anything better then AC. End of music. 

COD has, among other things, better selection of EVERYTHING, from kill streaks to weapons to perks to upgrades to YOU F()&*(& NAME IT! Plus, the graphics on AC (even in "very high" settings) are infinitely lower then COD, especially when you play on a good console. And if you want story, COD delivers on a very cinematic (if not always top notch) narrative while AC offers absolutely nothing. Killstreaks are boiled down to pick-me-ups and temporary weapons, and even your own team mates litter the playing field with "health packs" that look like they belong in a 1999 game. AC is like the caboose at the end of an steam engine locomotive, while COD is more like the Japanese bullet train at warp 9. If you can afford it, pick COD over AC any day of the week.
That being said, give it a try.

It is a free to play game, and so long as you don't get shopping fever over the purchases, you will get more for less, only because free is better then any price. Sign up, try it on different modes, and see how many kills you can rack up. It won't remotely compare to anything else you actually pay for, but try it before you spend your hard earned money at GameStop. Might be worth it. If not for stellar game play, at least a laugh and a new experience.


The description still stands: it is a poor man's COD. Do not let yourself be fooled into thinking otherwise. It will not make or break any conventions, and the real COD is hardly shaking in their boots. Still, it is free to play, and as Benjamin Franklin liked to put it, a penny saved is a penny earned. So if you ever feel like waiting for the next COD, save yourself 6000 pennies with this game. Won't kill you in real life. 

Seven Word Synopsis

Free Game

Uninspired Design

Try When Broke

Okay Wow; I am done for the night and can finally get some shuteye. Not sure yet what game I am going to review next. If I don't have time, I might just retro review another old game I played in the past. 

See you tomorrow morning!

Batman: Arkham Asylum (Retro Review)

It is time to turn over a new leaf.

No Longer will I keep my fans waiting. I will give you the schedule as promised, and will do my best to stick to it. If I cannot, I must instead give you a post explaining why.

In this case, it is because I was learning to use new Video capture software and making thatn video took a lot longer then I anticipated. I will need to start on my Video Reviews a lot sooner. 

Anyway, I am going to take a crack at making a Retro Review this time around. For those of you in the dark  about that concept, it basically means I will review a game that has been out for years (as opposed to my usual months) and reflect on both its historic significance and what it brought to its current generation and/or genre. In this case, I will be reviewing

It might be hard to remember, but there was once a time where people dreaded the oncoming release of a new Batman game. The Batman franchise had a rough time entering the game industry, to say the least, as it's earlier titles were most often either bad cop-in of movie titles or sloppy, glitch riddled games made more to cash in on the Batman trademark rather then do it justice. Games like "Dark Tomorrow" and "Return of the Joker" seemed to almost prove that Batman wasn't destined for video game stardom. At least not until a little development team called Rocksteady came along...

I remember the first time I saw this game on shelves. I was getting Dead Space 2 for my Xbox 360 over at the local GameStop when I spotted a rather professional looking Joker illustration on Gameinformer Magazine. I decided to skim through it a bit, and noticed two things: one, that they were obviously making a new Batman game, and two; judging by the screenshots, it looked pretty good. I felt a rather amusing mix of excitement and disappointment at the prospect (I had plans to make a Batman game of my own) and looked forward to seeing what this new team had to offer. I preordered a copy of my own, bought it when it was released, and played it on my PS3. That was about six years ago; my jaw hasn't left the ground since.

Batman: Arkham Asylum is one of the most important games to be released in our generation; not just because of what it did for the Batman franchise, but the impact it and it's better known predecessor "Arkham City" did for the way games are made today. Without it, the intuitive counter button systems and the AWESOME cinematic in game moments of today would probably have been overlooked in favor of some flashier gimmick. Plus it demonstrates how strong of a story you can tell with the interactive medium. The opening scene by itself give the player an unrivaled experience that even modern day movies have a hard time achieving. While it can be argued (and rightfully so) that it borrowed a lot of elements from a previous game called "Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay" (a great title for a movie tie in, recommend buying it.), it does offer a lot of psychological and dramatic elements that were unusual for a game at the time, in particular a Batman game. It proves to this day that our medium, the video game, is just as good a storytelling medium as any blockbuster movie or best selling novel; if not more so.

The thing is, Batman: Arkham Asylum is the brick and mortar that made games like Arhkam City, Sleeping Dogs, and any other video game with grapple guns, unlockable secrets, and simplistic attack combinations. Generations are paved with these kinds of games, and Arkham Asylum proves how taking a big risk (and making a Batman game at the time was a big risk!) can not only make you stand out, but rocket you into first place and make your game and its predecessors revered for ages to pass. Not bad, Rocksteady; not bad.

Anyway, now is the time for my traditional Seven Word Synopsis. It will do the same as it ever did; two word for the good, two words for the bad, two words for the recommendation. This time, however, I will assume you are buying it used, only because most copies of the game are either used, dirt cheap, or some sort of "Greatest hits" brand nowadays. So here is my Seven words if you want to brush up on your video game history over the last decade.

Seven word Synopsis

Made Franchises

Batman Oriented

Great Superhero Game.
For those of you wondering why I changed the last three words for this game, I am following the request of a commentator. You see, kids? Ask and ye shall receive!

Thanks +Michael Tunnell. Your feedback is appreciated.

That's it for the retro review. If you have any interesting tidbits about this game's history that I overlooked, leave a comment and share it with the world. 

For Tomorrow:

See you then...

Sleeping Dogs Video Review

Hello Folks.

Sorry for the two day delay. I had to create a video for Saturday at the last minute due to finals.

As promised, from now on I will do a single post for every single day, starting with this one.

And for waiting so patiently, today I will write for you not one, not two, but three reviews. This review will be the video review that I promised on Saturday. The next one will be a retro review for today, and the next will be a PC game review for tomorrow. Until then, do enjoy my video review of Sleeping Dogs.

Disclaimer: Sleeping Dogs is an M rated game, and the review shows characters dropping the F bomb several times and breaking peoples legs-literally. Do proceed with caution, and be advised if you are showing this to kids.

Also a few technicalities put to light; The game takes place in Hong Kong, and I use "Chinatown" as a euphemism for that. If this bothers you, tell me in the comments POLITELY.

Also, His name is Wei Shun, not Wei Ling.

See you in a bit!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Hitman: Absolution review

Okay guys and gals, I think I let you poor souls wait long enough. It is time to review

Now, for those of you who follow my blog, you might have noticed that with each new game I review, I try to mix things up. I started with a top 10 list, tried to start a survey on another game, and made a quiz about yet another game. This time I am going to do something completely different. Cue dramatic music...

I am going to make... a normal review

That's right ladies and gentlemen, I am going to shelf the fancy stuff, get my head out of the clouds, and focus on the one thing that really matters in a game review; actually critiquing the frickin game! I do this not just to break from my usual routine (quid pro quot, lack thereof), but to establish something I desperately need as a writer and something that will hopefully prevent any more "bad news" articles from popping up; I plan to create workflow. If I can make a streamlined standard by which I review and critique each game I play, I might be able to deliver more content more quickly. I will still have my seven word synopsis, and use it in place of a regular 10 point system used by most game review sites. I do this not just to be unique and Twitter ready, but to give my reviews the objective perspective most game reviews severely lack. We all don't like playing checkers and/or Call of Duty, and putting an arbitrary number on video game reviews does not do that fact justice. Thusly, I will base my reviews on recommendations to those that the game are clearly targeting, and I will do so with a seven word verse. I hope that someday this kind of honest objectivity will become a standard in our medium. This kind of standard practice will make it possible come the 15th to review games old and new on a daily basis. And once I get my HD recorder hooked up, I will provide my own exclusive high quality screen shots and videos. Celebration.

But with that being said, I doubt you are even the least bit interested in my plans for this website. You are probably more interested in the actual game called Hitman: Absolution and wheather or not its worth retail price. With that firmly in place, lets begin our review.


 I will start this review with what has become a standard for game reviews across the media; I will start with a description of the game.

To be brief, Hitman is a very long winded franchise that has been around since it's inception as an innovative PC game. The premise is simple; you are an elite assassin hired by a mysterious conspiring organization known only as "The Agency". You have a set number of objectives,among which is the execution of people targeted by the Agency. These targets are usually holed up in big mansions, or secure building, and are almost always heavily guarded and have security measures out the wazoo. The game challenges you to find a way to sneak into the building, take the target out, and sneak back out in one piece. This was one of the first games to allow you to complete a level any way you want; you could poison the target, wade through every guard with guns blazing, take out a guard and wear his suit as a disguise, etc. The possible ways to kill a target are mind boggling, and the game is as much as puzzle as it is an action game. You get the best score if you can kill the main target(s) without causing any collateral damage whatsoever; dubbed "Silent Assassin", after the series' first sequel. Absolution is the fifth game running in the series, and revolves around the same kind of game, with notable changes in story and game play mechanics.

Hitman: Absolution stars the same character it always did; an anonymous assassin code named "47" who is sent with a contract to kill a target. In this game, the story starts with a rather conflicting twist as it reveals the first target in the game. It is 47's long running voice-over-the-radio handler and contact known only as "Diana". She was basically the woman who gave you your contracts and instructions in every previous Hitman game. Long running fans of the series should recognize the name and voice of their first target and feel the internal conflict of the main character when they play. Well done, Square Enix.

I won't reveal weather or not 47 goes through with killing his long running comrade, but the real premise of the story is the girl that was with Diana. To cut this short, she is the reason Diana defected from the Agency, and becomes the ward of 47 throughout the game. The story then is not simply about a contract killer, but a man on a mission to discover the truth, and who does so by killing key targets for his informant. That's the basics of both Hitman: Absolution and the series in general. Now lets move on to something most reviews for other mediums do that video games reviews tend to sink on; comparisons.

How it Compares

I wish I could say that Hitman: Absolution is a game that stood up on its own. But sadly, it borrows the stealth mechanic from Metal Gear and now shares it's stealth mechanics with games like Thief, Splinter Cell, Assassin's Creed, and my favorite, Dishonored. And yes, I was somewhat sarcastic with that last title; Dishonored was a disappointment, if not an abomination. That being said, Dishonored wasn't the only game that failed to live up to it's E3 showcase.

When I went to E3 last June, I was lucky enough to play the demo of this game. In fact, I am pretty sure that floating somewhere out there is a live recording of me giving my feedback to a camera crew reviewing E3. I will have to show it to you, if I can ever find it. Anyway, one of the brand new features of Hitman: Absolution  is a new viewing mode called "instinct". In the official unofficial tradition of recent stealth games, it gives the players the ability to perceive guard from behind walls and doors "x-ray vision" style, making predicting their movements less complicated and frustrating. It is similar to the "detective mode" in Batman: Arkham City and the "dark eye" power in Dishonored. This is a nice step up for Hitman, as it was always a challenge in previous games to figure out how to sneak past guards and not be caught doing something suspicious by accident. Quite convenient, albeit unrealistic. The game also lets you "mark" targets with the mode in place ala Splinter: Cell Conviction. For those of you in the dark, you basically mark a target with the cursor and your badass character shoots them with perfect accuracy before they knew what hit them. Essentially, you can execute multiple targets rapidly. 

When I played the game, however, I noticed that the instinct mode had a meter. Don't call me out on this; the demo might have had a meter that I wasn't paying attention to at the time. But I could swear upon my grandma's grave that the meter was added after the game was demonstrated. Now the instinct mode, when activated, slowly drains as you use it, and can also be used to prevent other people from recognizing your disguise (guards tend to recognize their own).  Smart move, since marking targets can make the game too easy and instinct mode in general can take away the thrill of the hunt. 

Another similarity this game has to Dishonored is it's almost repetitive use of dumpsters; you can hide in them, peek out from them, and of course hide bodies in them. Almost reeks of the same kind of "convenient hiding place" that most stealth games use. Makes it easier if somewhat over simplistic to dispose of guards and targets. Would be neat to find a more unique hiding spot and use your imagination.

In some levels, as I found in the E3 demo, you are no longer a man on foot infiltrating a compound. You instead get to play sniper, and view the whole scene through the lens of a high powered rifle targeting someone too far to even know where you are. That challenge here is to take out the target before he realizes a sniper is gunning for him and/or leaves. This becomes similar to an old arcade game called Silent Scope, where you pretty much did the same thing, but instead of placing a hit, you were taking out a terrorist with a hostage. Neat stuff, really. 


If you like the Hitman series, and get a kick out of coming up with creative solutions and fantasize about being a contract killer, this is and always will be your game. The options these games give you are something to treasure, and you cannot go wrong with this addition. 

Also, the story is something that appeals to fans well and is a great continuation of the story behind Agent 47s life. If you are the kind of geek who likes to keep track of his favorite video game character's exploits, you should get a kick out of this. If you never played a Hitman game, you might find the plot line corny and a little confusing.

These games challenge players to come up with the solution of their choice, but makes some of the most awesome challenges (undetected, Silent Assassin, Chameleon, etc.) have something of a barrier to entry. Scores are tallied in this game based off of micromanaged "achievement" style tasks. If you target certain tasks, you will either be challenged or frustrated. Maybe both.  Like a Rubix Magic Cube or a crossword puzzle, it is best appreciated by intellectuals with patience. More casual players might feel left out or underachieved. 

Thus the Seven Word Synopsis is thine;

New Features

Patience Required

Perfect for Fans

That's all I got; see you around the bend!