The REAL Steel Storm

A few weeks back I did a Game-A-Week (one hour initial gameplay review) of the indie top-down shooter Steel Storm: Burning Retribution. I enjoyed it but wasn’t overly keen as it was lacking content such as big boss fights, varied enemies and extra weaponry. The developers of the game Kot-in-Action came across my review and suggested I try out Episode 2 of the game as it had a lot of the content I was wanting from the game. I did so and lo and behold, there’s an entire game much larger than the initial episode that’s full of so many things I was wanting from my first play through. Continue reading

PC Gamer Digital on Steam

I noticed something called ‘PC Gamer Digital Beta’ was on Steams New Releases so I thought I’d give it a download and check out what it was. Kinda glad I did so as it’s been region-locked to North America for now…how bizzare as PC Gamer started as a British Magazine. At first I wondered if it was just a digital copy of the magazine as you can buy/subscribe to copies of that via PC gamers site; wouldn’t be the first e-book on Steam as you can buy Prima/Brady guides for a few games. Turns out this is a different thing entirely. PC Gamer Digital takes elements from the magazine including interviews with game developers, hints/tips/strategies for games and PC Gamer staff showing off varied gameplay styles and melds them into an interactive multimedia experience. This digital platform also allows for the addition of game trailers and interactivity from users in the form of comments and votes. Continue reading

Game-A-Week: Homefront

Title: Homefront

The Gist: The year is 2027 and a chain of events has led to Korea’s two halves reuniting as the Greater Korean Republic that goes on to invade America. You take on the role of a resistance fighter and use guerrilla warfare in order to take back your homeland.

Pros: The story for this game goes a step beyond the typical baddies invade/protect home scenario. Penned by the author of Red Dawn and Apocalypse Now the story unfolds as you deal with escalating combat situations and really makes you feel like you’re a part of that story. There’s a large range of weaponry to pick from, occasionally you’ll get the option to pick between sniper rifles/rifles and light machine guns but you’ll often be dependant on picking up enemy weapons and munitions in order to survive which gives the game a strong sense of realism. Continue reading

Game-A-Week: Steel Storm: Burning Retribution

Title: Steel Storm: Burning Retribution

The Gist: Steel Storm: Burning Retribution is a modern imitation of classic top down shooters which has you fight against constant hordes of enemies using a variety of weaponry you pick up as you play through the game. I’m playing the game via LAN Co-op and hope to double the carnage! Continue reading

Game-A-Week: Zeno Clash

Title: Zeno Clash

The Gist: The bizarre story involves a man…erm if he’s a man…travelling with a girl and running away from his family who are all out to kill him. The reason for his family trying to kill him…well you’ll spend the game trying to find out. You tell your story to your companion by playing through it, fighting opponents that look like they’ve come out of an episode of power rangers on drugs. The game mainly consists of first person punch-ups spliced with a few cinematics and a little exploring.

Pros: the game is unique I’ll give it that, this is probably one of the most bizarre uses for the source engine to date. The fighting mechanic, whilst a little difficult to get to grips with at first, ends up being quite fluid and even rewarding as you pummel your opponents one by one. The characters are truly unique; you’ll come across a guy who merely walks forwards crushing anything in his path…”because that’s what he does”. The character you play as and his companion are a curious pair, sprouting truly unique hairstyles…some possibly involving bones! I’m aware of the frequency of the word ‘unique’ in this review but…seriously just see it for yourself o.O

Cons: The game feels a little too bizarre at times where you end up just asking yourself what the hell you’re playing. Whilst I like the bizzaro world and its characters I’d perhaps like a little more information on what the hell is going on as I didn’t get much of an explanation in the first hour and I really doubt I’ll come away with anything more than further questions if I continue onwards. The inclusion of weapons in this game seems a bit of a last minute idea, the guns themselves fall out of your hands more often than you get the chance to fire them and even when they do hit they don’t do nearly enough damage to justify using them. I’d rather the game kept to a hand to hand only, guns are too common these days anyway; just ask Gordon Freeman’s chiropractor, that arsenal of weapons didn’t do Gordon’s back any favours you know. Using a keyboard for the later parts of the game just seems silly, there are too many combos to effectively fight and I really wish I’d plugged in my gamepad, only reason I didn’t in the first place is because I figured this was going to be a little more Half Life and a little less Street Fighter.

Musical Note: The music like the game itself is again unique, accenting the craziness of the game whilst giving it some energetic tracks to fight alongside.

Huger Level: I don’t know if I liked the game that much but somehow I still want to play more, and I just might. I can’t see this game lasting too long game play wise so perhaps I should load it up again and see what the hell it’s all about.

Conclusion: Again just truly bizarre. It has its good points and it’s bad, but really is unique in its combat and its storytelling. Really its fun knocking your opponent to the ground but you should remember that old saying kick em whilst they’re down cos if you don’t…well they’ll be using that technique on you! The game also comes with some goodies for Gary’s mod so you can shoot the people you encounter in this game with some real weaponry if you like. Overall I’m really not sure what the game is trying to be, at times I think it’s trying to make a first person fighter, and at other times an FPS with occasional fist fights. Its base price isn’t so cheap so perhaps best to wait till it’s on sale, but if you were looking for something unique to play this is definitely something you should pick up next time it’s on sale. Again…really bizarre game, unique in fact.

“One Hour, One Review, One ‘Game-A-Week’ @ Black Vinculum”

Game-A-Week: Recettear – An Item Shop’s Tale

Title: Recettear – An Item Shop’s Tale (pc)

The Gist: Many an RPG features a shop where you can buy/sell your items in between questing. But this is an RPG where you get to run that shop! Buy low, sell high or acquire your own items by questing in dungeons. Either way you’ll be stocking up the shop with items and selling them to a bunch of crazies who seem to think that walking into a dungeon with a wooden stick in one hand and a walnut loaf in the other might not result in a horrible painful death. The story goes like this: Daddy does a runner, there’s a knock on the door by a fairy who’s obligated to tell you that the loan daddy took out on the house ain’t gonna pay for itself and in order to keep up with the payments you have to open up an item shop with her. Simple eh? The Japanese game was translated by independent localization company Carpe Fulgur at the end of 2010 and sold a whopping 100, 000 copies.

Pros: The game has a unique aspect but its easy to relate to. Link from the Legend of Zelda games always ends up in a store at some point during his adventure and anyone who plays WoW will be accustomed to selling their loot of to vendors. It’s a nice change to see what goes on behind the store, whilst retaining an aspect of adventuring itself. Any anime fan will find themselves at home as the visuals look like they’ve been stripped from a Studio Ghibli film. You don’t just stay in the shop or go out adventuring; you’ll be able to visit the town in order to buy items at the merchant’s guild, hire adventurers at the adventurer’s guild or a few other places.

Cons: If you’re not fond of anime or anything Japanese (you racist!), this isn’t the game for you. The game’s concept comes off as a little silly but again keeps in tone with what basic anime I’ve seen. Whilst the ability to visit areas in town makes the game look nice and big it’s a little disappointing that half of those locations merely disclose to players that nobody is there, aside from one time where I found an old man roaming the town square at night…the less said about that the better.

Musical Note: The music itself is very repetitive but authentic, its definitely well suited to the game but I’d probably end up turning the music off if I continued playing for fear of losing my mind to it.

Hunger Level: I did enjoy this and wouldn’t mind playing a bit more to see how things pan out. The idea of building up the shop, customising it would probably appeal to me a lot more than making money and the lack of any Zelda game in my life recently makes me want to rock out in the dungeons.

Conclusion: This is one of the more bizarre games I’ve ever played…ever! Having said that it’s definitely worth playing the demo that’s been released at least to see what you make of it. I’ve enjoyed testing it out and will probably load it up every now and then for a dungeon and a bit of bartering. It’s definitely reminded me of a time I played Zelda back on the game boy and makes me want to buy a 3DS so I can return to Hyrule. Overall if you like RPG’s and anime you’re in for a treat but be warned as someone fed the little girl who owns the shop crack or something, as she wont stop making strange noises and yelling the phrase “Capitalism Ho!” The game also reminds me of a series of games called Harvest Moon (game boy’s answer to Farmville back in the day), in which you’d run a farm and sell its crops in order to make money that’d buy seeds. Those games also let you acquire crops by adventuring just like Recettear. I loved those games so playing Recettear for me is more of a trip down memory lane than a game itself.

I ended up playing till the end of the first 8 days, where upon I was informed that I did not make my payment. It may have had something to do with selling my most expensive items at a 30% loss…it was a mistake! I thought I was buying something at a low price from the merchant’s guild; no wonder the customers were so eager to accept my offer. Subsequently I had to move out of the item shop. The fairy and I are no longer on speaking terms…due to the fact im now living in a box.

One Hour, One Review, One ‘Game-A-Week’ @ Black Vinculum

Game-A-Week: Call of Juarez – Bound in Blood

Title: Call of Juarez – Bound in Blood (PC)

The Gist: The game tells the Story of two brothers (The McCalls), and their actions during the American civil war. You perform a number of tasks in the opening chapter that include eliminating snipers in a wooded area, retaking trenches, preventing enemy reinforcements from landing on the shore and eventually blowing up a bridge. Eventually the brothers are ordered to retreat but refuse as the area they’re protecting is their homeland. Instead the brothers defend their land and then seek hidden treasure of Juarez in order to rebuild what has been lost during the conflict. You get to play as either brother when the mission allows it, which essentially gives you access to different abilities including using a lasso or dual weapons.

Pros: The graphics for the game are quite realistic on the most part allowing you to just sit back and take part in a spaghetti western style FPS. The game has a duck and cover system that protects you from multiple attackers and pick off your enemies one by one. The game allows you to utilise a bullet time system which you gain by hitting enemies with your weapons, this stored time can them be unleashed and literally tear enemy groups apart, life saving tactic and quite satisfying. You don’t see too many western games these days so it was nice to leave behind the spaceships and modern weaponry I’m accustomed to.

Cons: The health system for the game is a little annoying, rather than have a percentage getting shot merely taints your screen in a little blood. Too much blood and your dead but you can simply avoid fire for a few seconds and heal up pretty fast. The lip sync for the game is appalling for a modern game and really drew attention to itself. No matter how enhanced the surroundings and characters of a game are the little details such as mouths and lip sync stand out if they’re low quality, which in turn pulls the player away from the overall graphics of the game.

Musical Note: The music I heard in the first chapter was so generic it faded into the background for me, however checking out the intro music and YouTube videos seems to suggest the game has a soundtrack that would do a spaghetti western justice.

Hunger Level: The game was alright but it’s not something I’ll be loading up for a little while. My western game appetite is certainly not satisfied and makes me long for Red Dead Redemption to emerge on the PC.

Conclusion: My overall experience of the game is quite disappointing but information about the game seems to suggest I’d enjoy it after the initial missions. Later on you can look forward to heists, western towns and essentially a whole bunch of spaghetti westerns mixed up into some sort of spaghetti feast. There’s also a multiplayer component which might be kinda fun although I’m already wondering if the multiplayer western Lead and Gold: Gangs of the Wild West might offer a better western multiplayer experience even though it would be third person instead of first. If you’re a lover of westerns or bored with modern first person shooters then this is probably your game, however if you’re just looking for an FPS you might be better off finding another game.

One Hour, One Review, One ‘Game-a-Week’ @ Black Vinculum