Archive for January 31, 2015

Game of Thrones: Episode 1 – Iron from Ice Review

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.

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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.

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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 Battle Arena Review

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.

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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.

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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.

Resident Evil HD Remaster Review

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.

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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.

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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.