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PC Game Reviews

“Kivi’s Underworld” review

by on Jan.23, 2013, under PC Game Reviews

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Game: Kivi’s Underworld
Developer: Soldak Entertainment

2.5 llamas “Hack and Slash” without any addictive side-effects

When Kivi’s Underworld was released back in 2008, it was touted as a casual action RPG that could be experienced in short play sessions without requiring lengthy time commitments. While it is undoubtedly true that each of the thirty levels in this game can be completed in 15-30 minutes, I don’t believe I have ever found any game in this genre that “required” you to spend hours and hours incessantly playing. Even back in the late 90’s, the original Diablo allowed you to teleport back out to the safe haven of Tristan to allow you to execute the mandatory  post-caffeine consumption bio break most gamers require. At the end of the day, the only reason players immersed themselves in hour after hour of Diablo I and II, Fate and Titan Quest (to name but a few) is because those games were inherently designed to be as addictive as amphetamine-laced Tim-Tams. Developers understood that game elements like character building with skill trees and attributes, regular (and incrementally enhanced) loot drops and fast paced game-play was a near-perfect recipe to ensure gamers invested copious hours within these virtual worlds. Unfortunately, Steven Peeler’s (the designer at Soldak Entertainment) “bite sized gaming” solution to this problem was to develop an RPG with none of these addictive features present! (continue reading…)

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“Dungeon Defenders” review

by on Jan.16, 2013, under PC Game Reviews

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Game: Dungeon Defenders
Developer: Trendy Entertainment

4.5 llamas Fantasy Co-operative multiplayer at its finest!

A challenging (and I do mean challenging!) co-op title that blends tower defence, third person shooter, phat lewt, RPG character development and cartoon visuals within a variety of fantasy environments. Despite some punishing difficulty, its warty claws of addiction won’t be relinquishing their grasp on your soul any time soon. Whether you like it or not, you’ll find yourself replaying, re-analysing, strategizing and screaming with rage “one more time” as you and your compadres repeatedly struggle to complete another fiendish map full of goblins, orcs and dark elves. Highly recommended!

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“Nation Red” review

by on Jan.02, 2013, under PC Game Reviews

Game: Nation Red
Developer: DiezelPower

 Enough with the zombies already …

One of the problems caused by having a marketplace packed full of zombie-based video games is that too many fresh-faced game developers feel obliged to pile onto that bandwagon. Five years ago, that might not have been an issue. Today, that metaphorical vehicle is barely visible, smothered under billions of decomposing corpses harvested from dozens of games, each struggling to showcase its position on how to deal with the undead. The trouble is that just about every game developer has an identical xenophobic view of zombies: “if it shambles and is undead … shoot it in the head.” If Maxis ever decides to design SimZombie (the ultimate zombie world simulation), complete with detailed infection vector models, human survivor hunting and zombie de-evolution mechanics, I’ll be there quicker than you can say “Muuaaaaaghhhhhh!” Until that dream is realised, it looks like we will continue to be bombarded with zombie shooters as mindless and insipid as the in-game protaganists. Unfortunately, DiezelPower’s Nation Red is yet another perfect example of this developer mindset.
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“Devastation” review

by on May.06, 2012, under PC Game Reviews

Game: Devastation
Developer: Digitalo Studios

2.5 llamas  Unremarkable spawn of the Unreal Engine 2

Editor’s Note: I recently found my game play notes on this title when I played it nine years ago. In the interests of maintaining my “timely review” record, I’ve posted my observations and opinions below.
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“Buccaneer: The Pursuit of Infamy” review

by on Mar.23, 2010, under PC Game Reviews

Game: Buccaneer: The Pursuit of Infamy
Developer: Stickman Studios

If the Caribbean had decent wi-fi coverage, this is the game Blackbeard would have played.

Since the advent of ancient sea-faring nations, pirates have existed as an ever-present threat to maritime trade routes around the world. Although contemporary piracy is almost universally condemned by today’s governments, recent popular culture has managed to give historical piracy a much rosier and more appealing aspect. Games and movies, such as the “Pirates of the Caribbean” saga, have managed to portray pirates from the late 17th – early 18th centuries as swashbuckling romantics rather than the more unflattering imagery that we tend to associate with their contemporary brethren. Over the years we have seen a variety of pirate themed PC games ranging from LucasArt’s humorous Monkey Island adventures to complex strategy games such as Port Royale and Tortuga. Industry luminary Sid Meier even managed to blend strategy, action and adventure into his acclaimed Pirates remake that attempted to blend all the colour of piracy into a highly accessible simulation. The latest contribution to this freebooting genre is Buccaneer: The Pursuit of Infamy, the debut release from independent developer Stickman Studios. Comprising nothing more than a pair of artists with a coffee machine and no coding experience, this creative pair of miscreants has managed to concoct an arcade/action game focusing purely on piratical naval combat.
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“Fallout 3” review

by on Mar.23, 2010, under PC Game Reviews

Game: Fallout 3
Developer: Bethesda Game Studios

The Fallout universe has never looked bleaker … or better!

Bethesda Game Studios has returned to the roots of the original Fallout role-playing game in this latest iteration with the gamer controlling the life of his alter-ego within yet another Vault-Tec Industries fallout shelter. It’s now 2277, two hundred years after the nuclear devastation caused by a thermonuclear war between the United States and China. As one of the fortunate few who dwell in Vault 101, you’ve been sheltered from the harsh existence of life in the irradiated wastelands outside, leading an idyllic (albeit mundane) existence within the cold iron confines of this bunker you call home. For twenty odd years, very little changes; the inhabitants content to be born, live their lives and eventually perish within this isolated antiseptic society. That is until one day, your father disappears mysteriously from the vault, catapulting you unceremoniously into the post-apocalyptic and perilous realm of the Capital Wasteland. It’s across the devastated city of Washington D.C. and its associated environs that you will need to traverse to locate your dad and find out why he left the safety of the vault.
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“Brothers in Arms: Hell’s Highway” review

by on Mar.23, 2010, under PC Game Reviews

Game: Brother’s in Arms: Hell’s Highway
Developer: Gearbox Software

Goldilocks takes time out from her porridge to give a “thumbs up” to Gearbox Software’s third Brothers in Arms game.

Just when you thought World War 2 themed first person shooters were out of favour, the gaming fraternity has, once again, been subjected to holiday season releases featuring the free world taking on the original “Axis of Evil.” Although Treyarch’s Call of Duty: World at War isn’t due for another few weeks, Gearbox Software has already managed to get their sequel to 2005’s Brothers in Arms: Earned in Blood out the door. As we have already thoroughly assessed the developer’s previous works in this franchise, we decided to subject their latest work, Brothers in Arms: Hell’s Highway, to a similar treatment.
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“Peggle Deluxe” review

by on Mar.23, 2010, under PC Game Reviews

Game: Peggle Deluxe
Developer: PopCap Games

If Niko Bellic was a drug runner, he’d probably be importing this game by the truckload.

Despite on-going debate regarding the relative merits of casual and hardcore games, it seems obvious to me that there is a place for both in the video gaming world. If I feel particularly inspired to spend a few hours relaxing, chances are I’ll fire up the Xbox 360 and explore the more debauched environs of Liberty City on my motor scooter. If I’m waiting for the pasta to boil at dinner time, my preference will favour an XBLA title or one of PopCap Game’s casual offerings to help pass the 8-10 minutes required in lieu of staring at the proverbial “watched pot.” Although PopCap’s number one seller, Peggle Deluxe, has been around for over a year now, casual games tend to have an extended sales window compared to their hardcore equivalents … which is just my excuse for a belated review as the game completely slipped under my radar a couple of February’s ago. As I was “between games” the other day, I thought I’d take the opportunity to check it out. Note that if you live in Australia, you can save over 50% on the purchase price by buying the game off Steam rather than direct from PopCap Games; the same deal may also apply to other countries.
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“Hellgate: London” review

by on Mar.23, 2010, under PC Game Reviews

Game: Hellgate: London
Developer: Flagship Studios

A first/third person action title that has the potential for greatness but lacks polish.

The developers of Hellgate: London have been in the news lately for a host of unfortunate reasons. Within the last month, Flagship Studios has terminated most of the company staff, and ownership of their intellectual property is being contested by at least one investor. Throw in the copious amounts of criticism being thrown around about how the online portion of the game is still incomplete and buggy after nearly a year in stores. Savour the dubious distinction of having your company name used as a metaphor for “being screwed over in a laughable way.” While the end result of this highly anticipated 2007 release may have been less than favourable, there is still a playable single player experience embedded in the heart of the game. Given that the long term future of the online servers is still in question, I decided to ignore all the online brouhaha associated with the game and embark on a review focusing purely on the offline single player aspects.
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“Clive Barker’s Jericho” review

by on Mar.23, 2010, under PC Game Reviews

Game: Clive Barker’s Jericho
Developer: Mercury Steam

The new definition of horror?

With so many video games being released each year, it’s vitally important to have your product stand out from its competitive brethren. One of the more successful (and perhaps cynical) ploys is to insert a relevant luminary’s name within the title of your beloved creation to generate media attention and increase its profile. Developer Mercury Steam is well aware of this marketing gimmick and has leveraged gaming and writing luminaries in the past to increase their product profile. Their latest endeavour, Clive Barker’s Jericho, is presumably an attempt to both harness the renowned horror author’s credentials (he is credited with writing the back-story) and push yet another FPS into an already crowded marketplace. Unfortunately for all parties concerned, the melding of these creative talents has resulted in a less than stellar gaming experience.
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