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Monday Morning Quarterback: Fallout Shelter

August 17, 2015 Leave a comment

Fallout ShelterLast week Fallout Shelter for Android was released and well I downloaded it as fast as I could. I then promptly dropped some cash into the game because I am a sucker. Basically it is Tiny Towers meets Fallout. It does a great job of overlaying the classic icons and stats of Fallout on the Tiny Towers style gameplay. Im not a fan of previous tiny tower games but I am a fan of this game because I love the IP. Will this game hold my interest for long? Probably not but who cares they got my cash already. Do you need to spend in this game? Certainly not but if you do you get some cool stuff faster. Check it out if you are a Fallout fan otherwise it is just tiny towers.

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Monday Morning Quarterback: Kings Quest 2015 Chapter 1 A Knight to Remember

August 3, 2015 Leave a comment

Kings QuestIts been a while since I did one of these but since I was on vacation I had time to play some games and finish some. I played the newest chapters of Telltale’s Game of Thrones and another story game Life is Strange but I wanted to comment on the new King’s Quest. I was a fan of these games as a kid. Aside from Flight Simulators I remember playing these games on my friend’s computers. This installment brings the adventure genre to modern times. Well slightly. It brings adventure games to 3d environments. It even uses the unreal engine for some reason. It is not groundbreaking. The puzzles arent that challenging. You spend most of your time trying to figure out what is interactive and what isnt. The dialogue is good though and entertaining. The game has some trouble being intuitive on what to do and could use more hints when a player gets stuck but that is my only real complaint. I look forward to future chapters. 4 stars.

Witcher currently greater than Batman

WitcherI couldn’t take the Crapmobile any more in Batman: Arkham Knight and switched back to finishing the Witcher 3. I never played the previous Witchers but they do a fine job of making it all make sense. I was super hesitant about the game but once I sat down and gave it a little time I fell in love. I have a ways to go before I finish but I am really enjoying the variety of game play and ways I can approach the story. Once I finish the Witcher I will jump back to Batman but it will be with reluctance and a fiery hate for the batmobile.

Get your batmobile out of my peanut butter

June 29, 2015 Leave a comment

BatmobileI am still not very far in the new Batman game Arkham Knight but I fear my hate of vehicles in games that don’t require them is coming through. I would not mind if the Batmobile was an option for me to play with but it seems so forced into every fricken thing I am doing that I hate it. I just want to glide around Gotham and beat up bad guys while solving crimes. I don’t want to have to bring that stupid wanna be tank everywhere I go. The controls are not great and the feeling to me is they wanted a peanut butter and chocolate combination and instead I got peanut butter and poop. It reminds me of my hate of the Mako in Mass Effect and Driving in general in Watch Dogs.

Monday Morning Quarterback: Brutal Legend

January 6, 2010 Leave a comment

Tim Shafer’s Brutal Legend is an interesting game that ends right when the game gets good. I had an exciting 8 hours of doing a lot of different things only to find myself not at the end of an elaborate tutorial but actually the end of the game. Brutal Legend has a lot of things going for it but none of them can carry the game as a whole. I would have played a whole game’s worth of a few of them but I was instead presented an assortment of genres to play. There was driving, action, real time strategy, quick time events, and shooters to name a few. Every new event added something to the mix so I was constantly learning new rules in the game. Even in the final battle I had new and different tactics to use to win.

What did the game do right? Well, it had a very talented group of voice actors. You have Jack Black as the main character of the game which really made the game fun. Add in Ozzy and a few other folks and you see some top notch voice acting which raises the production value of the game a lot. This talent carried the story further and made it a little easier to swallow.

Another thing the game did right was the art style. The characters looked cool and so did the monsters. The world was really held together with its theme. I enjoyed exploring the world and felt comfortable there. It was inviting and fun to interact with.

That is kind of where it ends for me though. I felt the story was rushed. They spent a lot of time in the early part of the game to get you invested. Then it drops sharply only to overload you with big reveals and then bang! It’s the end. I would have liked a little more time to digest it all. The story fits together in the end but there are sizable chunks missing I think that should have been told.

Brutal Legend has so many different genres going. It is an action game one moment. Then it’s a strategy game and then a racer. They did them all well but none of them seemed to be the focus of the game. Also, why would you reward the player with an upgrade that really only has a benefit for racing after you have completed all of the racing? Why do I constantly get new units in the strategy part of the game but never have time to really get used to them? I really think things got cut in production, so much so that we saw a very streamlined version of the game. Usually I am all about a streamlined and compact game experience if it seems complete but here it doesn’t.

I was ready for the rest of the game to start once the game came to an end. I felt the tutorial was finally over and I could play the game. Sadly there was no more game. It didn’t make me long for a sequel. It made me long for the game I should have still been playing. I want that game. I feel tricked since the beginning area was so front loaded and top heavy with stuff to do. Once the map opened up more I was sad to discover myself rushed through and then with little to do in those areas anyway when I stopped to go back.

There is a lot of stuff hidden in the world. You don’t need any of it. Which is kind of a good decision to make but at the same time it really doesn’t add anything to my play experience. It didn’t add much to my play time either since I was still able to get all the garages, solos and half of the dragon statues and songs. Sorry,  I will say the new music did add to my play experience and the soundtrack was all around solid. Kudos to the sound department on this game for great voice talent and music.

What do you get for giving me only part of a story and too many styles of game with no focus? 3 stars out of 5. I suspect there was a better Brutal Legend game out there to be developed sadly it wasn’t the one delivered.

Monday Morning Quarterback: Smackdown vs Raw 2010

December 29, 2009 Leave a comment

Let me start this by saying I haven’t played a wrestling video game since the Super Nintendo. However I have been following wrestling since I was about 5 so that puts me in the fandom category for 27 years or so. When I was younger my dad used to take me to wrestling events at Madison Square Garden. Over the years I have caught just about every Pay-Per-View. To this day I watch or record every episode of RAW, ECW and Smackdown. I enjoy wrestling for what it is which is Entertainment.

Smackdown vs Raw 2010 does an excellent job of capturing that entertainment aspect of wrestling and making a decent video game of it. It has a fairly up to date roster of wrestlers though the landscape has changed a little since the release of the game. The different story modes with the road to Wrestlemania are nice and give you a well rounded experience of the WWE. The creation of your own superstar is fun and can be quite involved. Also the ability to write your own storyline is pretty phenomenal and a great treat for the die hard wrestling fan.

For those that just want to jump into some wrestling the game puts you right in the ring with John Cena and Randy Orton to go over the basics of the game. This tutorial area goes over the all you need to know and after you do all the moves you even get an achievement for it. I highly recommend doing the tutorial and really getting the moves of the game down before jumping into the story modes. The career mode is a little more forgiving but I didn’t learn that until much later. My initial experience with the game was throwing the game in, making my own superstar and then trying the road to Wrestlemania story mode with my superstar.

The first match was a breeze just mashing buttons. The following cutscene was fun and had the feel of a typical wrestling storyline. It was the next fight with two of the WWE’s biggest wrestlers that kicked my butt repeatedly. I admittedly tried about 8 times soundly getting my ass handed to me before I put down the controller and turned off the game. Luck would have it that the next game I put in frustrated me more so I put Smackdown vs Raw 2010 back in.

Having cooled off from my last experience I started from the beginning. I actually played the handy tutorial and then revisited my superstar. This time I started up the career mode. This ramps up at a much smoother pace and I eventually got the feel of the game. I felt challenged but never frustrated. The career mode is a nice setup of matches to earn a contender spot for a belt. You earn a certain number of stars based on performance and wins. Reach enough stars and get a shot at a belt. Each belt unlocks a new type of match like ladders or hardcore.

Superstars also get a bit of a role-playing style advancement in the game. As you win matches you gain points which you can apply to different ring styles. If you do grappling a lot in the game you get access to more points to be a better grappler.  You only unlock points by doing the actions in the match. If you heavily rely on submissions you will get access to more points in submissions but other parts of your styles will be weaker. It is a good system to mimicking wrestler styles you find in professional wrestling. You can also choose a small selection of specialty techniques and abilities to add to your arsenal. An example is being able to use the ropes to gain leverage when pinning someone. More abilities are unlocked as you get better at certain skills.

Creating a superstar is pretty easy and diverse. You have a range of body types and accessories to make a wide variety of wrestlers. It is also easy to create classic superstars or some of the current missing roster with this system.  You can even give your superstar an entrance outfit, a ring attire outfit and an outfit for promos. I am not sure if they have fixed this with an update but one of the most frustrating bugs I discovered was that anytime I added or changed my superstars outfits it reset my character. I lost all of my points and unlocked abilities. Granted I didn’t lose my place in the rankings for belts in career mode but those matches became a lot harder without my earned experience from previous matches. This happened to me twice before I figured out the correlation. So tip from me to you: Make all of your characters outfits at once before beginning the career mode.

Once you get past the easy you can get a lot more complex with your personal superstar. You can design entrances, make highlight reels, create moves, and personalize your repertoire of moves you use. Entrances can be crafted with camera angles, movements, and theme music. Music from your Xbox can be used as a theme song. Each match captures some of your best moves which you can in turn cut apart and create highlight reels which can then be added to your entrances. You can make two different types of moves, turn buckle leaps or grapples. The moves let you adjust trajectory and even has a variety of blends that make the animations look really smooth. Each of your move sets can be personalized and take hours to do. The amount of personalization you can put into the wrestlers really is top notch. Add in that you can design entire storylines, write dialogue, set up matches and watch it all play out you truly have a really fun and replayable game.

The music selection of the game is very limited and repetitive. I can only listen to the same theme entrances on repeat for so long. They could have served to have some other music or sound in the game that was designed to loop over and over. When you are spending hours tweaking your perfect superstar I don’t want to hear Rey Mysterio’s theme song 5o times. Another aspect of the game I was disappointed with was the treatment of the female wrestlers or Divas. Obviously they are considered a lesser part of wrestling and the WWE. They serve as eye candy which is a shame because most of them are also very talented athletes. The game does no better in its treatment of the Diva division. They have silly moves that are more akin to cat fights and pimp slaps than actual wrestling. I was hoping for less of the silly and more of what the men’s division got. Of course when you refer to your female wrestlers as Divas what can you expect.

In the end Smackdown vs Raw 2010 is a respectable game. If you are a wrestling fan you will probably get more out of this game than someone who is not. The attention to details are impressive and are definite nods to fans like me. Yes there are frustrating bugs but they are able to be worked around. I have volume control on my system so I can turn down the games sound and put my own music on when I get tired by the repetitive theme music. Though the Diva’s got the short end of the design they are at least in the game. Smackdown vs Raw 2010 gets 4 out of 5 stars.

Monday Morning Quarterback Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2

This weekend I had an opportunity to play Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2. I only played the first Marvel Alliance briefly and will get to a Late To The Game review of that game soon. I was excited about this game though when I heard about it. I am big comic book fan and especially so for Marvel comics. I grew up in comic shops as a kid. My dad owned a comic book store and comics were our way of bonding. While other kids were reading books like they were supposed to I was plowing through piles of comics learning the secrets of these awesome worlds full of adamantium claws and web slinging. Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 let me take the best of these characters and have them team up to ultimately fight each other. That is a pretty awesome way to start in my book.

Overall this game wasn’t so bad. As far as games go it looks good, the cut scenes are pretty sweet and the gameplay is solid. They definitely did a nice upgrade to the overall character design from the first game. The game is pretty cut scene heavy to drive the story forward. Some people argue to get rid of cut scenes in games but I think Marvel Alliance 2 uses them appropriately. When there was a need for action, I got to do it. When they wanted to regal me with decent voice over and cool animations I got my fill with the cut scenes.

Gameplay was really simple. Pick a super hero and three other heroes you want along for the ride and then pound those buttons for your powers to blow shit up. You can switch between heroes and doing so is encouraged because you unlock achievements and rewards only when you are actually controlling a particular hero. Even though it is encouraged I stuck with one character the whole play through, switching out only when I got knocked out. May I recommend Johnny Storm, the Human Torch. His powers are fun to use setting the world and your enemies on fire. Your enemies tend to use a lot of fire against you as well which you are immune to because you are the Human Torch. Fusion powers with other heroes are pretty cool as well. I am guessing there a number of combos to choose from but I stuck with the same party all the way through. Basically Fusion powers let you team up with another hero in your group for a super attack. An example would be the Human Torch and the Incredible Hulk. The Hulk rips a chunk of the earth from the ground and the Human Torch super heats it up for the Hulk to serve to their targeted enemy. A couple of those Fusion attacks and most villains are toast.

Did I mention it had a really good story? That is pretty much what drove me to finish the game. I was doing something else with my life and not reading comics when the Civil War storyline was going on in the Marvel Universe. I got bits and pieces of it from my friends and what I read on the internet but it was nice to get a simple retelling of the story in a video game. The writers of the game do an excellent job of setting the mood and pacing of the story. Conversations were an interesting idea which I felt fell flat. You had three options for most conversations aggressive, diplomatic and defensive. Choosing one of the options gave you points towards one of the many buffs in the game. Other than that the outcome seemed to be pretty much the same. I get the sense that there was  more intended originally but it got cut. Still the false sense of choice was more choice than some games.

Marvel Alliance 2 is not the longest game I have ever played. I was able to beat it in about 8-10 hours.That was with watching all of the cut scenes and no skipping. I am guessing a second play through could get me through it all in about 4-6. It has replay value in that the story diverges in one place so it would be interesting to see how the game plays out given the other choice. Add in the options to play with different team configurations and collecting the different set items for buffs in the game you then have a pretty solid source of entertainment.

The levels are well designed and give you ample direction and room to explore. There were lots of visual clues to let me know where I needed to go and only once did the locked camera make it tough for me to figure out where one of the paths was. A few hidden areas with buffs and collectables are on every level and if you are a completionist you will be driven to look for them. On this play through I was more interested in seeing how the story unfolded more than finding buffs which by the end of the game were unneeded to win.

The variety of characters was limited but I guess sufficient. The game had Deadpool and really thats all I wanted till they make an all Deadpool all the time game. There were a variety of X-Men, Fantastic Four and C level characters like Luke Cage and Iron Fist to choose from. I would have liked to have seen more villains to pick from. You eventually get Green Goblin and Venom but they are pretty meh to me. The fact that some characters were limited to certain consoles is kind of annoying. I don’t mind incentives like specialty items being only available to certain consoles but actual character choice is pretty lame. I am sure in time DLC will have these and more characters. There already is one DLC that gives you  access to Carnage and Black Panther which I will probably pick up.

The only real thinker part of the game were the boss battles. Now boss battles ranged from simplistic to annoying. Fighting people like Justice was just a pound fest. Target the enemy and hit him with everything you got and repeat till defeated. When it wasn’t just a prolonged normal fight there was sort of a strategy involved. Usually this ended with more frustration than actual fun. An example can be found in a battle with Bishop. This character absorbs energy. I repeat ABSORBS energy. You spend 3/4 of the battle fighting him to no avail only to wait for certain moments when he recharges health again to stun him. Really? Really? Yes, really. Don’t even get me started on Hank Pym aka Yellowjacket. At least Havok goes down like the bitch he is. /Rant off.

All that said about Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 I give the game 4 out of 5. A good story, solid controls, and the ability to play some of my favorite Marvel superheroes.