Archive for Reviews
Xcom 2 has been out for just over five months now and the sheer number of mods available for free, is rather impressive. Some mods have been average at best but there are those rare occasions when a creator designs mods which are on par of that from Firaxis.
The only problem with mods, are the fact that they do not add any narrative aspects to the game. The latest DLC for Xcom 2, Shen’s Last Gift, thankfully adds to the overall story of Xcom 2 and adds a whole new super-heavy soldier class.
Much like the cyborg units form Xcom Enemy Within, these Spark units allows for a variety of unlockable abilities which serves as mobile cover for your squad and can inflict some serious damage to the enemies. They wield heavy weapons, leap effortlessly up buildings and they’re immune to poison, fire and the Viper’s binds.
These Sparks are expensive and timely to manufacture but they’re very powerful on the battlefield. They do have their flaws however, as they cannot take cover and if they do take damage, only one Spark can be repaired at a time which takes longer than the normal soldier to recover so it would be unwise to have a squad of Sparks.
The story missions, which allows you to manufacture Spark units, are unique to Xcom 2 in such a way that there are three stages with a boss battle at the end. It was by no means an easy mission but it’s led by the playable Chief Engineer Lili Shen and it provides some details as to what happened with some characters from the previous Xcom games.
With the added narrative, new weapons and a brand new soldier, Xcom 2 Shen’s Last Gift is definitely worth purchasing at the full price. If you have all the current DLC of Xcom 2 installed, the early hours of the game might feel a bit crowded but luckily you can put off those missions until you feel ready to face them.
Xcom 2 was already a difficult game to begin with but after a couple of dozen hours or so and finishing the campaign twice, I kind of felt like I’ve mastered most of the games challenges. Xcom 2 Alien Hunter throws a curve ball at me by adding a new type of enemy that fundamentally changes the combat missions in such a way that I had to completely rethink my strategies.
Once triggers by a story mission, Xcom 2 introduces Rulers. These enemies are essentially altered and more powerful versions of the Vipers, Beserkers and Archons but don’t think for one second that it’s just a change of skin tone. They’ll invade you at any random turn, can soak up a ton of damage and will even give the Sectopod a run for its money. If they take up enough damage, they’ll retreat off the map which might bring you a sigh of relieve but only to return later and give you an even bigger headache so it’s best to try and kill them as soon as you can.
Unlike the usual turn based combat, the Rulers move in-between combat meaning that time isn’t exactly frozen when you move, reload or do anything really. Trying to outflank them is impossible and putting your soldiers on overwatch isn’t very useful as it is triggered immediately. The only sigh of relieve you might have is that Rulers tend to knock your soldiers unconscious instead of killing them but that causes complications with mission that have time limits.
Your soldiers won’t be completely useless though as Alien Hunter introduces new firepower, some of which makes the game seem a little too easy early on. The Bolt Caster, which is a crossbow-like weapon, has high damage and high accuracy but at the cost of only having one ammo so you’ll need to reload it after each shot. Sharpshooters can also make use of a ShadowKeeper pistol which deals a lot of damage and it is definitely a must have for any sniper in your squad.
The Rangers aren’t left in the cold though as they receive a brand new axe which replaces the sword. They do incredible damage on their own and have a unique ability which allows the ranger to throw it at the cost of one use per mission. Additionally there are freeze grenades which immobilize enemies for a few turns, perfect to use if a Ruler is trying to escape or if you need to retreat from an enemy.
One of the most interesting new additions are the trophies. Once you slay a Ruler, you’re able to mount their hollowed out corpses in a trophy room in your HQ. Your soldiers can also wear those skins, which grant them special abilities for example the Archon skin allows your soldier to briefly fly which the Berserker skin allows for a one-time melee attack however, if your soldier is killed and you don’t recover that body then that skin is gone for good.
For those veteran commanders such as myself looking for a challenge beyond the Rulers, will be left disappointed. Once you receive the new equipment Alien Hunters offers, the game suddenly becomes too easy. Even though the Rulers do change the tactics of some missions, they are essentially just different versions of current aliens and disappointingly there are no completely new alien models.
The new gear on offer is equivalent to most of the mods out there. Most mods are visually more appealing than that which is in this paid DLC so one has to wonder why Firaxis even spends time creating things which the community does for free.
Xcom 2 Alien Hunters is an interesting piece of DLC but which appeals to the more hardcore Xcom 2 players out there. With new weapons, abilities and expanding on some tactical approaches of missions, Alien Hunters does add enough at a quick glance but with questionable replay value.
One of the first choices you make in Telltale’s new episodic game, based in the universe of Game of Thrones, might leave you second-guessing every choice made thereafter. From its opening scene, Telltale does an excellent job in recreating the tension and atmosphere from the George R.R. Martin’s books and the HBO TV series, Game of Thrones.
A fair warning though, do not approach this game if you have not yet watched Game of Thrones until Season 3 or if you’ve read the first three books. It will definitely spoil events for the player. That being said, the game simulates the structure of the books (and TV show) by jumping between the perspectives of three new characters: Ethan Forrester, who must step up to rule in the seat of Ironrath, his old sister Mira Forrester; who is the handmaiden of Margaery Tyrell; and Garred Tuttle, squire to Lord Forrester.
Each character has a distinct role to play and their choices are vastly different from each other. Telltale does a great job in connecting each path, in order to salvage the future of House Forrester. Those familiar with previous titles from Telltale, such as The Walking Dead will notice similarities. But that isn’t a bad thing.
Mira’s scenes in the capital city of King’s Landing has bright and vibrant colours, and doesn’t consist of any action heavy events. Garred’s scenes involve some very simplistic quick time events combined with dialogue and bloodshed. Ethan has the strongest dialogue as some intense conversations wage between him and a lord of a rival house with a dark and muddy atmosphere.
Telltale has set very high standards when it comes to voice acting and Episode 1 – Iron from Ice is no different. Characters who appear from the TV show are authentically voices by their TV counterparts and the similarity is remarkable.
There are some technical issues such as glitches in animations and the new brushstroke effect which is used on backgrounds and characters, can be a bit distracting when the camera angle changes.
Even though the choices you make in this three-hour adventure has very little significance in Episode 1, it’s important to note that there is a total of six episodes and your choices will matter in the end. This side-story might not let you decide the fate of Westeros, but this introduction will keep you entertained until the end.
The Witcher 3 is mere months away from release and CD Project Red has built a reputation of sheer dedication to quality across just two games. With the ever so popular MOBA genre, one would think a free-to-play Witcher MOBA would be an instant success. That however, is not the case.
The Witcher Battle Arena brings the fantasy world to iOS and Android devices for free, if you choose to play that way. It does a great job of bringing the MOBA experience to the small screen but the gameplay isn’t compelling enough to keep one invested in this free-to-play title.
At launch, there are nine characters to choose from which are split into three classes – Mage, Warrior, Archer – but only three of them are unlocked. The other characters can be bought with in game currency known as crowns which you earn from matches, or with real world money. Each character cost $4.99 or 750 crowns which is a bit steep for this title but after spending over half a dozen hours on it, I unlocked most of the characters and skins without spending any actual money on it.
Each characters ability felt satisfying and players can purchase extra inventory pages for the surfeit of items which are rewarded to them after matches. Besides outfitting your heroes with the equipment, players can also fine-tune the stats of each hero with an even greater customizability at higher level characters.
Unfortunately there are only two arenas available at launch, each so similar to each other and there are no meaningful way to communicate with your teammates. There are no friends list, no local-play and no way to invite players. To make matters worse, there is no punishment to players who quit midway through a match thus there is no incentive to play through the game when the match isn’t going your way.
Practice mode allows you to challenge bots but other than that, you’ll be queuing in a 3vs3 with unknown people or fighting bots with two random players at your side. During my time, I encountered numerous bugs which caused my game to freeze, and my progress was lost after two hours in which I had to start over. The character skins I unlocked and the loot, was lost. The RPG element is what kept me going in this game, and losing my progress was insulting.
When a match starts, each team begins with 500 points. Capture points are spread across the map which causes the opposing team to lose point if they are captured by the opposite team. The match ends when the opposite team has zero points left and each match lasts around 5-10 minutes. There are no lanes nor creeps, so there isn’t really any strategy involved besides ganging up on the nearest enemy trying to take them out.
The atmosphere of The Witcher Battle Arena does right with brining the feel of The Witcher to the small screen by recreating its characters and music but its frequent technical issues and lacklustre gameplay does little to keep the player engaged.
When playing the original Resident Evil back in 1996, it didn’t feel like a game – it felt like an experience. Back then, obtaining a walkthrough wasn’t as accessible as it is today. You had to exchange details and secrets with friends, revealing hidden items, solving puzzles together and most of those details were accurate.
The scares, the puzzles, the atmosphere of the Spencer Mansion still has that eerie feel to it as it did in 1996 and the 2002 Gamecube remake. This HD Remaster is basically a frame-by-frame remake of the Gamecube version keeping all of what made it great but also dragging along some of its problems.
For those whose memory is still fresh from the 2002 remake, might feel slightly disappointed. Even though the remake expanded on the gameplay and updated the visuals, it requires you to solve the same puzzles, surrounds you with the same locations and has the exact same “jump scare” moments.
But that is not necessarily a bad thing. That nostalgic feel when the dogs crash through the windows still gave me a jolt in my seat, reminding me why those moments are one of the most iconic in the history of gaming.
Some might feel annoyed by the fixed camera angles but it’s what made Resident Evil feel so cinematic. New players will feel disorientated when running forward and suddenly having the camera angle change on them while trying to avoid a giant snake but I was on the edge of my seat when cornered, trying to fight off two zombies at the end of a hallway. Those moments remind me what made Resident Evil such an classic horror game.
From the start, you can play as either Jill Valentine or Chris Redfield who are members of the special ops force called S.T.A.R.S. Each character has a different story and locations to explore, yet they are set in the same mansion. Each playthrough will take you around 12-15 hours, depending on your difficulty level and it’s worth playing through each character for those extra unlockables.
The limited inventory can be annoying as you waste time on countless occasions, juggling items from your stash to your inventory and vice versa. The loading screens between each room are still the same door-opening animation from the original which might turn away many players as each loading screen can take up to 5 seconds no matter which platform you play it on.
Even though some of the annoyances from the original and the 2002 remake remains, there is no doubt that Capcom did a great job in recreating that tense feeling while updating its visuals and the overall feel for newer audiences. Resident Evil relies on its atmosphere and this HD Remaster definitely recaptures that which made the original game such a classic.
Whether you are a Resident Evil veteran or a newcomer, there is no doubt that every survival horror fan will enjoy this classical remake.