Archive for the ‘Review’ Category

Review: Guild Wars 2

September 12, 2012

I’ve now spent more time than I want to admit with Guild Wars 2 over these past two weeks and feel that I have done enough to be able to judge it accurately.

Guild War 2 is a very hard game to review because it’s the first game that is set to completely change the MMO market. A market that previously has remained very static with little change, so it’s no small task ArenaNet has chosen to tackle.

Now there are some things that GW2 does masterfully, and some not so much. Let’s start with the best part: no subscription fees. You buy GW2, and that’s it. You’re set to play it as much as you want and as long as you want. Previously MMO’s used to require a $14.99 fee every month to login and have you account active, but no longer. ArenaNet are moving towards to a new age of less fees, more microtransactions, and you know what? I am liking it. There simply isn’t any need for subscription fees and they have held me back from several MMO’s in the past.

The world of GW2 feels far more alive than any other MMO I’ve played. Not only is it due to its beautiful graphics and attention to detail and the fact that everything feels hand made, it is because of the quests and events that are out there. You actually see the events unfold without having to go to an NPC and pick them up and then go through them alone. It is a vital change that was desperately needed in the MMO world. Previously people were fighting for mobs and bosses and got angry if someone “stole” your mob. In GW2 that is all gone and in fact, encourage to help each other as both get credit. A phenomenal idea that every single MMO should introduce.

If we continue to the music, oh my, it’s simply godlike. This game has amongst the very best of soundtracks that I have ever heard. Like I mentioned in my earlier posts, I lowered the mater volume and maxed out the music volume immediately on launch day because I knew it’d be this good. It’s definitely in the classical genre if you want to label it. Some might not like it, but that’s OK. I love it.

Player versus Player in GW2 exists in two areas. First one is regular or structured PvP as we know it. Battlegrounds in WoW and Warzones in The Old Republic. And I must say that this was what I looked forward to the most. In my previous MMO’s I truly loved PvP and did more of it than was considered healthy. In GW2 however, it’s the exact opposite. I hate it. I am never having fun and I freaking hate that downed state and think it’s the shittiest featuer ever added in an MMO. It’s so annoying it’s beyond belief. I mentioned the annoying factor of missing out on the satisfying killing blow due to the fact that every class has a knockdown feature in their downed state and so on. It’s real shit. It’s so bad I haven’t touched PvP in over a week have zero intentions of doing so.

The second area of PvP in GW2 is the World vs. World vs. World. It’s massive. In fact, it’s too big. At first the hype overwhelmed me and now that I’ve gotten cooled down and got to examine it more thoroughly, I can say it’s a let down as well. It can be summarized as “standing outside gates and banging them down”. It’s really the majority part of WvWvW, unfortunately. The gates have too much health, it takes too long to break them down, there are too many of them, the world is too big, and when you die you have to run for like 10-15 minutes depending on how far off you were as there are no checkpoints whatsoever except the one. Now, I am all for harsh penalties when dying, but this is just plain bad. Star Wars did it perfectly with Ilum after adding valor rewards to it.  In GW2, it’s just too big and unappealing for me to enter it. Oh, and there’s still an hour+ long queue to enter it two weeks after launch. Not cool.

The combat mechanics (apart from the downed state) are really impressive I must say. Compared to the recent MMO’s I’ve tried such as Star Wars and Tera, GW2 outshines them greatly. What’s the secret? Well, I’m glad you asked. There are two secrets to this. One is the dodge mechanics that allows you to dodge incoming attacks by, yeah that’s right, dodging. Of course you can’t do it all the time, but it’s a great feature that adds tactics and reaction requirements in combat and especially in explorable mode dungeons where some bosses cannot be defeated without you dodging at the right times. I freakin’ love this feature and cannot imagine playing without it. The second one is casting spells is possible to do while running. Duh, right? Why doesn’t every single game do this? I don’t know. But imagine casting your fire ball and running at the same time, what an incredible feeling huh?

What about endgame content? Also known was gear progression, raids, and dungeons and even more in some games? Unfortunately, most of that is nonexistent in GW2. Let me tackle on thing at a time. Raids are completely gone and replaced with these world events that exceed a large number of players at all times almost. I mean, when I was level 20 I killed bosses with more people in GW2 than I did in raids in SWTOR. So that’s one thing, but the problem with that is that there is no gear progression or set collection from that. Instead, GW2 throws in explorable mode dungeons that are the equivalent of “heroic dungeons” or “hard mode” dungeons that reward you with tokens and then you can be set gear that is purely cosmetic as it doesn’t transfer over to sPvP, only WvWvW and PvE. Now this has offset a lot of players, myself included. There are around 10 dungeons that you have to beat on first story mode to unlock the explorable mode, and that requires teamwork and skill to complete to get the tokens. These tokens require such an insane and stupid amount of grind that I just wanted to cry. I had to grind Citadel of Flame for five hours to get one piece. After that I said “never again” and I have no intetion of grinding it out like that for more pieces as I find it ridiculous in 2012 to be forced to play the same content for over 50 hours if you want the whole set – no matter how cool it looks. It’s not that it’s “hard” to get the gear, it’s the monotonous grind that bothers me. I loved the fact that it took me three months to get my set in WoW through Molten Core runs, but that was exciting and fun as I didn’t grind the exact same content for 5 hours every day. It was progression and excitement on weekly basis. In here lies GW2’s biggest weakness. Player want progression in gear and raids, and GW2 doesn’t offer it. It’s a real damn shame.

Are the dungeons challenging? Yes. Some of them are very difficult and the removal of classes such as “healer” and “tanks” is an interesting move, but a move that I don’t like. It still causes confusions as I was playing with an elementalist that thought he was the “healer” and ruined the dungeon for us as it doesn’t work like that in GW2. I liked the old traditional roles and wouldn’t them back again, it worked very well in SWTOR and WoW for me. Some of the dungeons are beautiful and with really cool bosses, some of them are pathetic and embarassing. Take the final dungeon with the last boss of GW2, Zhaitan. It was the most pathetic and dull ending you could ever imagine. I am not going to spoil anything from a story perspective, but that fight was an embarassment to video games. It was the worst ending I have ever seen. True shit. What was ArenaNet thinking when making the final boss go down like that?

GW2 adds some really nice surprise elements that are, in my opionion, the best part with the game. What am I talking about? Vista hunting and jumping puzzles. There are beautiful vistas that are quite tricky to get and they are very rewarding and a fun change of the grinding and killing. I collected all vistas I could in the areas I liked and it was a nice shock as I usually hate exploring the world, but not in Tyria. Another brilliant feature is the one of jumping puzzles. These hidden treasures offering very dificult puzzles and require very good jumping skills. I have done quite a few of them, not nearly all of them but I love ’em. They are so fun to do and one of the best things about GW2. Now whether or not that’s “interesting” or sad, I don’t know, you be the judge.

I have logged way over 100 hours into GW2 and though that is nothing in terms of MMO’s, I feel like I am almost done. I will login from time to time to do the last dungeons I haven’t, and to try out a few bosses in explorable mode and eventually collect a few more vistas and do more jumping puzzles. But that’s about it. Nothing else interests me in the world, and many of my friends have already “grown tired” of the game as it’s just too different. I mean $59.99 for over hundreds of hours of enterainment is a good deal, but not for an MMO.

Another thing about GW2 that some might find very frustrating is the skill lock. You are locked to the weapon choices you have and those are your primary attack skills. You do not get to modify them at all, only the last five skills that are more of buffing spells and tactical skills. This is very frustrating coming form games with 30+ skills to choose from, and even though you probably only use 10 of those 30, it still makes a bit difference and adds to variety. In GW2, you see a guys weapons, you know pretty much exactly how that fight is going to play out which I am sure could be boring for some players. I am not particularly fond of it as well.

Waypoints are placed all over the world for your discovery and these points allow for instanenous fast traveling around the world, which is great. They are quite expensive now as inflation hasn’t struck, but it’s a nice touch that saves hours on traveling. However, it’s not without cost. It removes that feeling of “open” world as zones in GW2 are instanced and you have to go through a loading screen everytime you switch zones. What made World of Warcraft so darn epic to me was that feel of knowing that it took me 15 minutes of traveling from Orgrimmar to Molten Core and how the world felt open. I rode on my mount from South to North and knew exactly what zones would be where and how the world was, it really felt like a world I was living in. GW2 doesn’t have that due to all the loading screens.

Another major feature that I miss with GW2 is world PvP. It was godlike in WoW, and it was fantastic in SWTOR. I love ganking and camping corpses and then battling equally leveled rivals near quest territory and I have memories I will never forget from Star Wars when I was fighting several Siths outside a temple and kept going for 30 minutes chasing each other and whatnot. Good stuff. In GW2 that doesn’t exist and there is no way of killing players, nor is there anyway of even duelling players. Are you kidding me? How can there not be a duel feature? While talking about basic features, GW2 also lacks face-to-face trading, player inspection and faster queues for PvP and WvWvW. So the game is far, far from perfection in even basic terms.

Closing comments

GW2 is a special product. It is the first wave of a new era and that era might be coming too soon for many. There are some fantastic and epic moments in the game just as there are some very dull and disappointing moments, such as fighting the last boss. No one in the world can be happy with how it ended. I think GW2 is either a love or hate it relationship. The story is rather poor in my eyes, compared to SWTOR I am not entangled at like I was there, and it just flies by in weird paces and with forgettable characters. If you want to tackle GW2, throw pretty much everything you expect from an MMO out of the window. There are no raids and no regular “end game” content as many are used to. Instead there are events and PvP in massive scales. And if you just want to PvP, you can choose to do that as it scales you to level 80 immediately – which is a nice touch. But for $59.99 you’ll get far over hundreds of hours of entertainment on only one character. And the game will only keep growing and improving further adding to its value. However, despite all these nice things you expect more from an MMO. I mean, Star Wars: The Old Republic kept me playing every day nonstop for over five months.

Rating: 7.5 out 10

The Expendables 2

August 22, 2012

I don’t even know where to begin. This has to be one of the toughest movies to review for me as I don’t know how to grade it. My hype was big, I’ll admit that. And to sum it up I can say it delivered.

The Expendables 2 is an all-out action movie taken from the late 80:s and early 90:s just like they used to be with a little modernization maybe. It brings back the three legends that I grew up with and idolized my whole life: Schwarzenegger, Stallone and Van Damme. To see all of these three heroes in one movie along with other legends and idolizes such as Willis and Norris simply made my heart warm and my eyes tear up. It meant that much for me.

To finally be able to see Stallone fight Van Damme or to see Willis, Schwarzenegger and Stallone take cover together and deliver jokes about their classical punch lines from their respective iconic characters from the 80:s was just too much for my heart. It melted. I was a little kid and I was in fantasy land again. Though I would have wanted some different scenes and more participation of certain actors, I couldn’t ask for more than I got from a mere 10 euros.

Expendables 2 was funny. It was nostalgic. It was full of action and explosions. It was full of my legendary trio. It was what I wanted – and needed for that matter. To become a kid again.

Rating: 5 out of 5

I personally want to thank Stallone for bringing my childhood trio into one movie.

Star Wars: The Old Republic Review

January 4, 2012

Note: MMORPG:s are constantly changing and being updated with patches and new content. Therefore, my review is only good for the content that I have experienced and the same goes for the bugs and balance issues as well. I will release updated impressions after each major patch. But for now, this review applies to game version 1.0.1.

It isn’t easy reviewing MMORPG:s. Mostly because of the fact that the game is a lot what you make it yourself together with your friends. I’ve been very fortunate to have started off with lots of friends in the same guild from level 1 to 50. So throughout my entire experience I’ve had fun with friends and I even made new friends from random groups who later joined our guild. And that’s what MMO:s are in my eyes. They are social and fun. Meant to be played with other good people to make them more enjoyable. And I’ve had some of my greatest MMO moments in Star Wars: The Old Republic already, and we haven’t even begun doing endgame operations yet.

I clocked in at roughly 140-145 hours when I hit max level. I listened to all the story, both side missions and main mission. It was that good. Never ever have I even bothered to care about the story in an MMO before, but in Star Wars, I was actually jumping and screaming a few times because of some major characters appearing and how insanely well implemented it is with the books and previous games. Don’t worry, I won’t spoil a thing. But needless to say, you’ll enjoy it far more if you’ve read the books. Especially the latest one. So it goes without saying, this game has the best story ever in any videogame that I have ever played. It is simply world class. By far. I actually felt a bit bad after doing some dark side choices. Wicked.

Doing the missions felt very similar to any other game in this genre. Go there, kill this, get that, and come back. Nothing really mindblowing but some missions were obviously much better than others. In one of my Vanguard missions I got to escort a group of people in a manner that truly felt like a military movie. And that was actually quite nice as I hate escort missions but the way this was done and how it was explained through the story just strengthened the entire mission dramatically. Once again proving that story and decisions belong in MMO:s.

The soundtrack is amazing. Classic quality Star Wars theme through and through. In epic battles, and in certain areas. Brilliantly done and I often just increased the volume to hear it. Wonderful. And don’t even get me started on the quality of the voice actors. As near perfection as you can get. There wasn’t one off actor in all honesty that I encountered. With a list of over 600 actors that’s an impressive achievement for BioWare. Real impressive. Any MMO without a fully voiced cast now will surely look like a b-production through and through. BioWare has set a new standard within the genre. Not bad.

Are there bugs? Of course. There are some minor annoying bugs such as certain missions not being able to be dropped and sit there and annoy you. Plus a few other small ones such as the UI bugging up rarely. But none of these really break the game in anyway. However, I’ve seem to have been very lucky with terms of crashing and framerate stability and latency in PvP. I hear a lot of people complaining but everything runs very smoothly for me. But then again, I do have insanely good hardware and Internet. It’s an MMORPG, bugs are to be expected. I mean, look at Skyrim. And like I said, I’ve yet to encounter a bug that is so groundbreaking that I said “If they don’t fix this, I’m out.”

Let’s cover the most important part of the game for me: Player versus Player. PvP right now is extremely flawed in my eyes. Especially world PvP. There’s no bonus to kill people out in the open world as you do not get rewarded with valor or anything at all for that matter. Not even in the open PvP world zones. In fact, on Ilum, the open world PvP zones discourage, yes, discourage killing other players. If you want to do the daily/weekly missions on Ilum you are best off not killing the other players as it saves you loads of time. Especially for Empire players. If you kill opposing players they are sent far back to the spawn point and you have to wait for them to run all the way back and try to recapture the bases. So it’s best to just take turns and cap the points in turns for maximal speed and efficiency. Insanely flawed and a fatal miss by BioWare. Is this fixable? Absolutely. Award valor for outdoor kills plus add “kill 50 Republic/Empire players” in the daily quests and not just “capture the base”. So this massive problem can be fixed in a day.

What about the warzones? Well, I like them all at the moment but Huttball has some flaws in my eyes. Why am I slowed when I pick up the ball? It does not make sense. Why does the air generators shoot me in random directions? That’s just retarded and annoying and puts luck as a major factor in winning these. Real horrible decision. But once again, a very quick update and it’s fixed and Huttball would be near perfect. Another decision that I don’t fancy is the fact that almost all classes have stun + knockback. Needless to say, you will not go through a single warzone without being stunned and knockbacked several times. However, this is something you get used to and I am enjoying warzones more and more as each day passes by. It is highly recommended that you play with your friends though and not just random people. Especially if you’re on my server (Hex Droid) as a Republic player.

So it’s clear to say that PvP is far from perfect. But it can easily be fixed, which is a relief. And it better be because people are complaining a lot. There have been some talks about ability delay as well but I don’t really experience it that much. My main complain is the 1.5 seconds global cooldown. Should be 1 second at most. In terms of class balance it’s very complicated. Healing classes have a major advantage in my eyes but overall it’s extremely balanced in the long run in warzones. But in 1on1 situations you will get raped depending on which class you pick.

The crafting system in this game is brilliant. You no longer need to go and farm materials like some slave. Instead, you have your companions do all that annoying and boring work for you. Send them out and they bring back your material and you can begin crafting. It’s much more fun this way and it also saves you tons of time. Once again, BioWare breaks new ground here. I am impressed as it’s their first online game.

Flashpoints in Star Wars are great. They have story and engaging moments with decisions for groups. And they are long, in fact, some of them are longer than World of Warcraft’s pug raids now. Which I find is hilarious. I feel that I get an amazing amount of content for my money and I’ve spent too much time playing this game already and I haven’t done nearly everything I want to do. With daily and weekly quests all the time, along with Hard Mode flashpoints and operations coming when my guild has enough level 50 players, I don’t foresee myself leaving the galaxy any time soon.

Closing comments

It’s BioWare’s first MMORPG. It shows and I understand that. I am open and patient. I have no doubt that SWTOR will continue to grow and improve over the coming months rather than become worse. Experience will benefit BioWare a lot and this game in turn. It’s not perfect, but if you consider the fact that this is their first attempt, it’s darn impressive. There’s a lot of crying and bitching in the forums and the game, so I am confident that BioWare will have a lot of pressure on them to fix the known issues or this will become a classic Titanic MMO that will lose over 60% of its userbase within the next thirty-sixty days. Either way, I am having a blast in The Old Republic and currently have absolutely no plans on quitting for a long time. If you want to make your wait for Diablo III/Guild Wars 2 pass by a lot faster, you should definitely invest in Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Review in Progress: Star Wars: The Old Republic

December 17, 2011

I’ve now passed level 20 in Star Wars: The Old Republic. I know, no life right? Either way, I thought it’s time to write down part one of my review of the game as it’s quite the mark to pass and a lot of wonderful things have happened. In fact, my expectations have been surpassed.

The best starter area ever

The starter area is without a doubt the best one I’ve experienced. It starts off your characters personal story which is one of the key perks about The Old Republic: story. But more about that later. The starter areas are far deeper than what I’ve seen before as they start the story. Sure, the quests aren’t exactly  revolutionary by any means and usually involve disable this and collect that and kill this. But it’s done in a faster way than I am used to and it helps a lot. Another nice addition are the bonus quests such as kill an additional of x enemies for even more experience.

Your story, your decisions

For the first time ever in an MMO, I actually care about the story. I’ve actually listened to all the story content and made some influencing choices that have affected several characters lives and outcomes. Fascinating. I remember in other MMO’s where I just skipped reading all the quests and hit accept in a dull and monotone manner. But in Star Wars that’s no the case any more. For the first time ever in an MMO, I am a part of the story and directly affecting it, while caring. That’s powerful. Oh yeah, it’s fully voiced as well which in the beta I thought was a bit too much, but now, I’d miss it if it was gone. The voice acting is superb and vital. It’s become the new standard for sure.

Spaceship and space combat

A freshing addition to the genre for sure. Fighting in space has never been this fun and rewarding. The only miss here for me, and I am sure millions of players, is the inability to decorate your own ship on the inside. You can however, upgrade it with shields and whatnot for future battles, so it’s a great start for sure. Here’s hoping future updates or expansion packs add those features.

Companions

Finally we get sla… I mean companions. These guys are great. You can order them to do your crafting and gathering work for you, you can have them sell junk items for you as you continue to quest on to free up your inventory. Also they fight next to you in combat of course. There are varieties of companions such as tanks, healers, and damage dealers. Of course you can have romances with some of them.

And probably there are a lot more things that I’ve left out. A lot of small things such as the quick travel binding points and ease to go to PvP warzones etc. A lot of great things. I’ll keep playing and the next update should come at around level 35. See you then.

Badass Troopers on parade.

Insidious

August 6, 2011

I don’t fancy horror movies. Why? Because usually they’re not scary and most of the time relatively stupid. But Insidious is not. Insidious is… insidious.

Reviewing a horror movie is quite hard as more or less everything you say is a spoiler. It’s best to stay away from the trailers and everything relating to the movie in order to have that fresh experience firsthand. No worries, I will not spoil anything from the movie. I’ll just tell you it’s brilliant.

It has a, to me, unique concept and a great atmosphere. It’s a very moody film and me and my girlfriend had a very cozy and frightening time watching it. I would recommend it to all and it’s undoubtedly the best horror movie I’ve seen in over 15 years.

Rating: 5  out of  5

F3AR

July 30, 2011

I return to the FEAR universe for a third time and leave disappointed. I really liked FEAR 2 but the same thing cannot be said about F3AR.

Graphically speaking, F3AR doesn’t impress at all. Neither does the gameplay. Nor the horror moments. In fact, nothing about F3AR is impressive.

FEAR is associated with being a shooter mixed with horror. F3AR does not offer any horror, okay, maybe like one moment in the game is fairly scary and moody, but that’s for only like five minutes and that’s it. Other than that, the horror moments are more annoying than scary which is a huge deal-breaker. Also, the story seems to fall apart in my eyes and really is nothing special and more of a loony toon story than anything, which is too bad as I was looking forward to finding out more about Alma.

If you look at the game as a straight up shooter with a multiplayer and co-operative component it is passable. It offers fairly decent action in a way that is expected from a shooter and like I mentioned earlier, it tries to differ itself by adding some horror which it fails miserably at. The game feels like it is trying to capture more of that shooter market rather than the horror market which in my eyes is the biggest mistake they made in the development cycle.

They added a lot of new things into F3AR, such as a level system and point system which is all well and good but it really doesn’t do anything to the experience. It is something you quickly forget about and ignore. Like if you use a full slow-mo bar three times in one level you get a few extra points but that’s about it. Those points are more or less useless and they only level you up in which you get more health. Gimmicks that are quickly forgotten.

Since the game is very bland and not scary at all, it is best to play it with a friend. At least that way you can have fun together and make the experience better than it really is by goofing around and doing some strange things. Otherwise F3AR is nothing more than a passable game that doesn’t impress at all on any levels. If you find it for the cheap  ($19.99 or less) and you want to have some fun with your friend that differs itself slightly from most shooters, F3AR might be worth of a shot. The game is very short around 5-6 hours and won’t take too much of your time.

Closing comments

Unfortunately F3AR fails to live up to the hype. It also fails to impress and do anything memorable. It is a passable shooter in terms of action quality, multiplayer, and co-operative play but nothing more. It offers nothing that makes it worthy of a $59.99 price tag and be your choice in the vastly competitive shooter market. Save your money and go for Battlefield 3 or Call of Duty

Rating: 6 out of  10

L.A. Noire

June 15, 2011

Prepare for a different kind of game. Prepare for Los Angeles in 1947. Prepare for corruption and violence. Prepare for a real America. Prepare for L.A. Noire.

You take on the role as detective Cole Phelps, a rookie in the police force but slowly work your way all the way to the top in a great thriller story.

Graphically speaking, the game offers some world exclusives. Team Bondi has used new facial technology to be able to produce the most accurate and impressive interpretations of the human face ever. All the details like twitching, the eyes, and so much more is there and it is vital to the gameplay as you often have to read the suspects body language and determine whether they are lying or not. A very impressive achievement for Team Bondi and L.A. Noire. Other than that, the game looks good but fairly standard for a sandbox game and it will not wow you or anything like that.

In a game where you conduct interviews a lot and that is driven on conversations, voice acting has to be top-notch and I am glad to say that it is just that. All the voice actors are doing a fantastic job and it feels believable and realistic. The gunfire sounds accurate and heavy and the music is authentic to LA and truly old school. One thing that I thought was a rather huge miss was the fact that there was no radio station to cycle through music while driving and the same tune over and over gets old eventually, even though it is very good.

The innovations continue with the gameplay. Doing detective work is a lot of fun although it can get repetitive for some I am sure, but that’s just real life. You investigate, shoot, and question. That’s the essential life of the game and it works great and is a nice change from just running and gunning or hacking and slashing.  One key ingredient is missing though to truly perfect the game. Kinect support. You will be lifting up one million things and turning and twisting them, and I can only imagine how much cooler and smoother it would be with Kinect while doing the actual motion with my hand in real life. Kinect support in the future? I’d play through the game once again just because of that, but like I said, it was a huge miss according to me.

Even though you play the game with an AI partner at all times, there is no co-op or online capabilities whatsoever. Normally, I would have bashed the game all the way to the stone age for that, but in this case, I truly understand and see the game as a true single-player experience. Would it been nice if they had some special co-op missions where you and your partner share 50/50 on the questions etc? Yes, it would have been very nice. I’m not going to lie. Even though it was a great experience to play through it by myself, I don’t see myself playing any more single-player games that span more than 10 hours. I just don’t have the time or energy for it anymore.

Closing Comments

L.A. Noire is a phenomenal game that offers a new and fun gameplay style. A true thriller with a long and deep story spanning over 20 hours if you do nothing but the main plot. Add to that that there are great side missions with variety and more cases coming in form of downloadable content, the game’s value is undeniable. The face capture motion scanning is unrivaled and I am sure that we will see it in other games as well as it truly is the best facial animations and expressions available. If you are looking for some amazing detective work in a top-quality game, look no further than to L.A. Noire.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Portal 2

May 14, 2011

When Valve went out and said that this game was their best singleplayer game yet my hype truly went through the roof. I mean, they have titles like Half-Life 2, Team Fortress 2, and Left 4 Dead behind them. And this game is better than all of those?

Usually for Valve games I tend to complain on the graphics and how they look old immediately and outdated thanks to the use of the ancient dinosaur engine that is Source Engine. Take Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2 and as well as Half-Life 2: Episode Two, for an instance. Surprisingly enough, I did not feel like that with Portal 2. Most likely because the environments are so small and bland that the Portal gun can get a boost and look good, which games like Left 4 Dead and Episode Two could not do. So for running on an ancient engine that came out before the wheel did, Portal 2 actually looks good. Wow, feels weird to say that.

Sound-wise Portal 2 truly shines and excels. Wheatley is one of the best voiced characters that I have ever encountered and so are two other characters in the game as well. And what made the first Portal so popular with the humor and song is still here and it is even better than in the first game.

Some people don’t know what to expect from Portal 2, and that’s fair. It’s a rather unique game from first-person perspective where you shoot two portals on walls and walk through them. It sounds very boring and uneventful, but it is not. A lot of things happen in between and shooting these portals will require some puzzle-solving skills and a keen eye. Though this game feels slightly easier than the first one, this one still offers a challenge and a much longer singleplayer experience than the first game. To keep it fresh Valve also added three completely new gameplay mechanics in form of gels. The blue, white, and red. These gels have different functions, such as the blue makes you bounce while the red makes you go very fast and you have to incorporate these to progress through the game.

Playing with your friends is a humanright in 2011, and in fact, was already back in 2006, and any game that doesn’t offer that feature will suffer significantly in my grading scale. Fortunately Portal 2 realizes this and offers a very fun and interesting co-op experience with fun and smart achievements for it as well. Together with your friend you have a combined of four portals instead of the usual two to shoot and you don’t have to be a doctor to realize how much that changes the puzzles and thinking progress. Co-operation is essential and without a friend that knows what he is doing you will not get anywhere. Also GlaDOS is there to observe the whole thing and point out which one of you is doing better and which one of you isn’t contributing to science as much and it is hilarious. You will laugh many times both in singleplayer and co-op.

Closing comments

Portal 2 is a very complete experience. It offers some interesting puzzles, although I feel that they are easier now than before, and some unrivalled comedy and humor. Add to all that some great co-op that will offer your many hours of laughter, and you begin to see the value of Portal 2. If you like puzzles and laughter, you cannot go wrong with this game. Portal 2 will only expand with downloadable content planned and the first piece will be free, which means that there will be more than one update. Valve are known for supporting their games years after release, and if this is the case again, expect much more puzzle solving.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Crysis 2

April 9, 2011

I’m going to get right to the point. Crysis 2 is masterful. It is also the best looking console game out there and very well could be the best looking PC game as soon as the DX11 patch is released for the PC version. While those things are nice, the gameplay still needs to be sound and keep a high level. Does it? The answer is yes.

Let’s get the graphical aspect of the game covered first as it’s such a big and important part of the Crysis franchise. The first Crysis became the benchmark and graphic monster when it was released. Hardcore gamers bought graphics cards and bragged “it can run Crysis” or asked “Can it run Crysis?” when talking about powerful computers. Therefore, it is no surprise that Crysis 2 is expected to follow similar footsteps. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it is the best looking game for the consoles. On the PC the game is even more beautiful and I have yet not seen a better looking game there either and this while the game is still running on DX9 instead of DX11. Crytek chose the consoles as the primary development version and therefore the PC suffered its DX11 expected standard. But like I said, it still looks significantly better on the PC.

Leaving the tropical jungle for the big apple New York City was a good choice in my eyes. I honestly hate running around palm tress and beaches while killing enemies. It just does not make sense. Why would wars take place in sunny paradises instead of highly populated cities with economical targets available? What’s there to sabotage on the beach in middle of nowhere? New York City looks great despite it being completely demolished by aliens. Some of the moments that you will see will make you say wow. I promise that. Other than that, the story is pretty straight forward: save New York.

What makes Crysis 2 stand out from the rest of the military shooters is of course the Nano suit. This suit gives you incredible powers in form of strength, speed, and health regeneration and armor. Oh yeah, it can also make you invisible for a short period of time. So it’s a pretty cool piece of equipment that comes in hand quite a lot during your rescue of New York City. It feels good to be vastly superior to regular soldiers and most of the aliens, although some of them in the later stages of the game will have weapons and abilities to make your life challenging even with the Nano suit functions such as stealth.

The singleplayer campaign is over 10 hours depending on how much you want to rush it. It is fun, entertaining and gives you a good sense of what you can expect in the multiplayer. Once again Crysis 2 delivers on what we have come to expect from shooters. Cinematic story, explosive action, vehicle sections, dramatic moments and betrayal. Everything is there to make the singleplayer experience feel complete and satisfying.

While the singleplayer is excellent the multiplayer is where Crysis 2 truly shines. Developed by Crytek UK, it was expected to hold a high standard and I am glad to say it surpassed that standard by a mile. Everything you expect from shooters these days you have. Unlocks, levels, classes, customization, perks, and ranking systems. Different game modes for different levels and everything is there. All the maps are great and I have yet to play on a map that I didn’t absolutely love. It is that good, seriously. The only complaint that I have with the multiplayer is the poor balancing issue. I myself have hit level 16 and was tossed with players that were level 6, 8, 9, and 11 against level 43, 37, 24, and 22. Slightly odd? I think so. Needless to say, my team did not understand the concept of Crashsite. Hopefully this is something that will be balanced and fixed in future patches.

Closing Comments

Crysis 2 is a complete package. It delivers a fantastic singleplayer experience for those who yet have not entered the 21st century and shy away from multiplayer, and it offers a phenomenal multiplayer experience that dominates both Halo and Call of Duty in my eyes. Add to that that it also is the best looking console game by far, you truly cannot ignore the value and greatness of Crysis 2. The improvements made from Crysis to Crysis 2 are tremendous and almost unreal. Crytek have done an excellent job and they surely have earned every shooter fan’s money. Go get your Nano suit today.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Welcome to New York. Enjoy your stay.

Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit

January 22, 2011

EA brings Need for Speed series back to its roots and makes the best NFS game with Hot Pursuit. Does it beat the other challengers?

Car games should be about drifting, driving fast, avoiding the cops and causing mayhem all with super hot fast cars. This is exactly what Hot Pursuit is all about and more.

Hot Pursuit allows players to play as either a Racer or an Officer depending on which side of the law you want to be on. I myself right now have fancied being an officer more than a racer, but both are very fun – especially online with friends. As you can see, this is all about chasing each other and the best driver wins.

From a graphical standpoint, Hot Pursuit looks great. The environments are pretty and the cars definitely are identifiable without even looking at the name. The FPS is solid and does its job. Is there anything else that a car game can have in terms of graphics? I don’t think so and what this game delivers is more than satisfying.

Authentic sound and engine roars is a must for all racing games and Hot Pursuit delivers on that area. The engine sounds are fantastic and sound great. The police sirens tend to get quite annoying once you played as an officer for several hours but it is something you have to bear with I guess. Speaking of sounds, this leads me to the weakest aspect of the game: the soundtrack. There very, very few good tracks here and this is not a major problem as you can add your own mp3s but still, it is a shame that a fantastic game like this lacks a good soundtrack list.

Gameplay is undoubtedly the most important part of a racer and this is where Hot Pursuit truly excels. Like I mentioned earlier, the Officer versus Racer concept is brilliant and it allows for some wicked custom-made fun by you and your friends. Officers can dispatch roadblocks, helicopters, use EMP and other fun gadget to help them catch the racers. Racers can use spike mats, radar blockers, and more to counter the officers. And then you have to learn how to dodge these gadgets with gadgets of your own and top it all off with some beautiful driving.

EA once again shows that they are aware of the future and implement a mind-bending feature with the “Wall”. This is exactly what it sounds like. If you use Facebook, you probably have a very good idea what it is. On the Wall you and your friends can share comments and pictures from the game and upload challenges, scores, and dreamshots of cars and races. Just beat your friends hi-score? Why not brag about it and post it on the wall so when he logs on he will be most aware of your evil deed? Simply put brilliant and it binds together friends and makes Hot Pursuit an excellent online racer.

Other than that everything is fairly standard and what players expect from games these days. You have different ranks that you need to achieve and you unlock cars based on that. We have seen this formula before and it works to this date. Why fix something that is not broken? Precisely.

Closing Comments

Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit is the best racing game I have ever had the pleasure to play. It completely destroys all competitors this generation and all the other ones as well. Bringing this fast and fun formula with officer and racer, it is a must-have for anyone that is looking to have fun with a car. If you are looking for a realistic racing simulator this will most certainly disappoint you as this game has no intentions whatsoever to be a racing simulator. Hot Pursuit is intended for drifters that want to have fun and it delivers on every single aspect. Racing games have a new king of the hill.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Driving a Lamborghini Gallardo as a police officer? It’s a reality in Hot Pursuit.