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Warlock: Master Of The Arcane
First off this is one of my dream games. If you want a Civ style game within a fantasy setting, that is turn based and promotes combat focused gameplay over creating a vast empire through peaceful colonization, then this could be for you.
Basically like the Civilization games you create cities, upgrade them, and recruit units to protect them and attack those of your opponents. City management is not very deep as you just focus mostly on combat action and do not need to spend much time micromanaging your cities. Cities grow organically and depending on their level you get to construct a building every time it grows in size.
Research is performed only for magic spells which can be used to affect units stats, blast enemies to dust, or buff/debuff cities.
The range of buildings provides you with a range of points for four key resources with which you spend on unit recruitment and upkeep, spell research and casting. They also give access to a variety of unit types and ability upgrades which are unlocked once the required building is constructed. There are three races: Monsters, Humans and Undead, with each one having its own variety of buildings and units.
There are also special buildings that can only be built on certain hexes which give the impetus to explore the game map and found cities in key locations.
Perks are the abilities that can be given to units when they rise in experience and also by casting spells on them. Some can even be assigned to cities. The range of these is simply massive. Some can even be purchased for units, if the relevant building has been built. The sheer number available means you can develop a multitude of strategies as to how you create your army.
Whats more not only is the land filled with a vast array of random monsters with respawn points, but there are portals to "other" lands with even more dangerous creatures like dragons and elementals - waiting to blast your troops to pieces if you are not careful.
Together with these variety of opponents, the myriad of buildings , the number of spells types, units, combinations of resources, map configuration and victory conditions - the replayability value is enormous.
The AI is even competent enough to mount limited attacks and knows when to retreat its units and even is able rest them and cast spells in a clever way. It even excels in defending its cities. It still needs work on mounting an effective assault, as its attack usually are too easy to disrupt.
What's stopping the game receiving a higher mark is that a) there is no multi-player yet b) or a campaign c) the game needs some more polish d) the AI needs some more work.
Gameplay is fast and frantic and the alert system which queues the actions you need to take every turn so you dont miss anything make for a game that has that - "just one more turn" feel.
Some people say its just a Civ clone. Other say its not quite the sequel to Master of Magic. For me its inbetween both. Similar to Fantasy General, but with better graphics and stands on its own two feet.
Overall the game is rough around the edges, but deep with in is a diamond waiting to be unleashed. For the price, you will get much, much more value than what you paid for.
With the possibility of multiplayer and other enhancements coming in DLCs, this could be a contender for biggest surprise strategy game for me. What it does... its does really well.
I award it 7.5/10, but if they can make the few changes above its up there with a 8.5-9/10
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If you want gruesome gory violence vs zombies, with lots of bloody and dismembered parts then this is the game for you. This is what I feel DI does really well. The basic combat mechanics against a couple of zombie types. The other stock gameplay features such as crafting, upgrading and maintaining weapons, character progression, inventory management, voice-overs, back-story - it does well too. These all add to the basic nuts and bolts of the game, making it a comparable experience than other games of its ilk.
However, all of this is cast aside by some really awful mistakes, that send the game down from what it could easily have been a 5 game.
The real villain of the piece is the terrible auto-save/checkpoint feature. This is broken to the point that you can lose over 1/2 hr of progress even if you think youre safe w/ the last checkpoint you managed to make. Weapons and artefacts you picked up or crafted can disappear. Your character can appear in a total different area of the map, even if you were nearer to another save-point.
Add to this the ridiculous decision made to have all items & creatures randomly respawn, periodically - probably for those playing in co-op more than anything and the gaming experience is nothing near what it should have been.
It would have been better if, for the single-player experience at least, the game map would not respawn too many items and certainly not all area's would respawn zombies.
Another issue is continuous quests & sub-quests you've managed to pick will not appear in your quest log when you load a saved game. You have to manually revisit every quest giver to get them back. Since you rely on the minimap to tell you where to go, and the minimap requires you to have a quest selected.... you are practically stuffed until you can find your way back to these NPCs.
This is about 2weeks in and there has still been no patch for the steam version to fix these issues.
You are also bound to find that once you get over 1/2 way in the game, combat become repetitive very, very quickly.
Co-op is fine while it lasts, especially given the nature of connecting for how long you want to and to whatever game you want. Though personally Ive had some issues staying in a game due to sound issues. But Im not sure if that was me or the game I was joining.
Other than that, the graphics engine is v. good, the combat exciting, the violence gory and the story and quests worth playing through - at least once. I doubt I will want to play past my first character though which is a shame, because I was really looking forward to smashing as many zombie heads I as I could before Rage comes out!
Deus Ex: Human Revolution (With Bonus Explosive Mission Pack)
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Overall I found this to be a great game combining a superb story with some excellent gameplay. It takes you on an awesome journey, where you arrive after an adrenaline fueled experience, to an ending that is epic in terms of virtual entertainment. For all its uniqueness, it plays like a mix between Batman Arkham Asylum & Splinter Cell.
The openess of the game provides an ample range for your approach in overcoming a particular section of the map. Either allowing for stealth, combat or a mixture of both. Though I did tend to find that overall the game design, pace and style better suits players who prefer stealth as their means of getting the job done. There are however a few really well done battle set-pieces where you can get some satisfaction from using your weaponry to take-out the opponents.
The audio is immense. The voice acting and music adding both depth and atmosphere to the story-telling, the twists and the moments in the game where you stop and mentally debate with yourself, if you should go or just wait that split second more - before the moment is gone.
On the down side, I found its strength to lie in the story-telling, as I found some of the mission sections to be ponderous, over-relying on sneaking and hacking too much. So players without some patience may get bored. Also some of the boss missions are ridiculously hard or easy - depending on what weapons/tactics you use. Though the final battle really is worth getting to and overcoming. The sense of satisfaction from beating the end of game boss is special to say the least. However, it is perhaps these issues and the repetitive nature of the game that takes this down from a 10 (as a lot of magazine reviews have awarded it.
However, as a prequel it truly gives justice to the Deus Ex brand. Making this title - one to own, play and complete.
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Having played through the game thrice and finished all the achievements I feel I can now give the game the credit it deserves.
What Metro 2033 does best is its ability to take you on a journey rather than force you to feel that you're playing just another action shooter. At its heart the game is an excellent fps that combines a mix of stealth and close quarter combat, though not achieving perfection in either.
The blend of linear designed levels and the hugely immersive cut-scenes work well together, bringing the heavily Russian-themed storyline to life, creating an atmosphere that is very hard to find in many other FPS story-driven game I have played. I would almost say its unparalleled except perhaps ancient PC games such as System Shock or some of the top RPGs of yester-year/decade.
Graphics are tops and really bring to life the abjectness of the world of the Moscow subway in post-apocalypse 2033. Vocals are top notch and are delivered to the sort of standard Id expect in a AAA game or film. While the superb soundtrack just amplifies the whole feeling you have throughout.
Everything, including the Steam Achievements just compel you to keep on playing throughout the couple dozen levels. Its genuinely one of those games you could keep on replaying, even if you know whats around the corner, the combinations of weapon types makes you want to try out different play strategies. So even though I finished this game once last year, I left it on my PC so I could come back to it and replay the game once more on the most difficult of levels.
Perhaps the only real disappointment comes in the way the actual combat and stealth features dont really work perfectly in combination. It can be quite difficult remaining hidden after you kill someone silently, unless you hit the head with a throwing knife everytime. So you end up having to go rambo anyways. And even shooting could have been implemented a little better as the AI enemies tend to just follow pre-coded routines that leave them sometimes out in the open for an easy kill. Other than that, the bullet (aka money) trading system works perfectly well and Ive played on Hardcore, Ranger Hardcore and Easy modes. So you can tailor the experience you want to have.
Definitely one of the superior FPS titles of the last few years. There is nothing earth-shattering about this title - but what it does it does magnificently well.
Id mark it 4.75/5 stars to be precise. If only the shooting and stealth mechanics were tweaked to be a little more user friendly.
Sennheiser PMX 60 Backband Headphones
There is nothing glitzy about these pair of headphones. Compared to a similiar pair of Sony's that Ive had for around 15 years, these dont provide the same quality of sound. But comparing these to a mid-range Sony product probably isnt that fair. On the positive side there isnt a great deal of difference between these and my old pair. Most people probably wont notice the difference.
Having said that however, they are a solid workmen like piece of equipment, that does allow you to aptly hear the music, game sound or other audio you want to with them.
They fit comfortably around the head and rest perfectly around my ears. I have an average sized head, even if Ive been called a big-head before! ;)
The only issue I have with these as well as the slightly inferior sound, is the shortness of the cable. A 50% longer cable would have made all the difference. So thats why Ive taken 1/2 point off for each.
Yet, I am very pleased with this purchase, as the price of 10pounds is value for money and it does what the product description says well enough.
An excellent budget buy.
Hearts of Iron
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The first incarnation of the ultimate WW2 strategy game. Imo of course. This game will draw you in with ease, prompting you to spend countless hours playing the game. Infact I cant remember going two years without buying another game, thanks to this little baby.
This game is more action oriented than other Paradox titles and its short time-span is perfect for shorter games. It will appeal more to those of you who prefer their games to to be exciting.
For me its underlying strength is its simplicity. Too many games now-a-days try to be overly complex or clever. Though the game has undoubtably been over taken by the sequel it still a fun way to spend an afternoon trying to conquer Russia as Italy or Germany as Poland.
The version doesnt have all the accumulated fixes and enhancements and an updated manual. You should get the Platinum version if you can find it. Otherwise, you can still get all the patches and user-made manual from the forum.
I dare say alot of people will overlook this title, but as the price its worth it for a few weekends of anyones time. Though if you are a novice to strategy games or a newcomer to Grand Strategy titles, it is a great place to start.
Batman: Arkham Asylum
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This is as near perfect a Batman experience as you can get playing a game.
A visually stunning graphics engine provides the perfect platform for a wonderfully detailed setting, which provides the perfect backdrop to one of the most immersive stories you will find in any computer game ever made. If thats not enough of an inticement to get this game, then the outstanding gameplay has few rivals in any category you'd care to mention. You just never get bored. Even if most of the gameplay is a derivative of combat or using one of the Batman's gadgets to get past an obstacle to finishing the game. Combat is really implemented well, with end of section bosses bringing a whole new challenge at apt points in the game. When you overcome these baddies, you really know you've achieved something.
The key to this is the excellent game design. Layouts, environment, baddies types, numbers and behaviour are just some of the dynamics that contribute to such unparalleled diversity, as Ive seen in a huge number of games played. It doesnt stop there. A great attention to detail elevates an already immense game to that of must-play. Sub-games such as the Riddlers hidden riddles, the info cards of the villans and friendly personnel you get to encounter throughout the course of the game, all add to enhance an already tremendous experience. Everything in the design is set out, placed and paced to drive you to want to keep on playing, to get to the next section and beat it.
Music, sounds and voiceovers are all first rate. With the distinctiveness of the main protagonists and antagonists all voiced by believeable actors. Every character sounds as you'd expect them to.To top it all off, keeping track of progress and objectives is helped by a streamlined, yet well thought out and implemented interface - which doesnt detract in the slightest from playing the game.
Everything is oh so perfect - but there are a few niggles that stop this from being a perfect ten. The action does get repetitive towards the end of the game. Some riddles/puzzles cant be attempted in the order they are encountered and can be easily overlooked and forgotten about. Some of the set-pieces with Scarecrow are very well implemented, but the control method can be hit and miss - especially when the camera angle is fixed.
This is the first console port game that really worked for me on the PC. Its a true virtual adventure. And the ultimate Batman experience. Probably until the sequel comes out.
Sword Of The Stars: Complete Collection
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Im a late convert to this series. Infact I only started playing this game earlier this year - when the Ultimate Edition came out.
Simply put it is the best Space 4x game there is. Ive played GC, Pax Imperia, MoO & MoO 2. Plus a few Ive probably forgetton about. I prefer turn-based strategy games, so you have time to think things through. What makes this game special for me is the depth of strategy decision making it presents.
Couple this with a lean approach to managing many aspects of your space empire, through a very efficient interface. Add to those, a great space ship combat engine, a fantastically detailed tech. tree that changes the option you have at your disposal every time you play. The AI has not shown any weaknesses, but I havent played enough to notice any flaws and Ive played over 100 games.
The game also has a powerful and ever evolving ship design system that allows you to customs dozen of ship hull types with a hundred or more ship components to match any taste in configuration you may care to have. Even the race/faction setup and sandbox options give you more choices than you're likely to ever get round to playing.
And I havent even tried MP yet!
With all these features there really is no excuse why this game (and version) shouldnt be in your collection.
This game is simply fun, fun, fun. The clever design ensures that you wont be spending you time micromanaging for hours and battling for seconds. Which makes it so addictive, once you start progressing
The collection includes:- Sword of the Stars- Born of the Blood- A Murder of Crows- Argos Naval Yard
Cant recommend this enough.
Elven Legacy: Collection
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Simply amazing! Thats how Id describe this bundle. It includes the original game and 3 expansions:
- Elven Legacy- Elven Legacy: Ranger- Elven Legacy: Siege- Elven Legacy: Magic
4 challenging campaigns, with such diverse design, that they will tax you to the max! There are truly a few missions that are harder than a beautiful blonde to crack - but thats another story. Bonus and optional missions mean there is a lot of replayability for those that desire it. Every expansion has new content across the entire spectrum of features; either map design, artefacts perks, heroes or units.
The AI presents a real challenge even for a strategy vet like me. While the sheer number of unit types means a huge amount of combat combinations to think about when choosing how to attack your enemies. A complex set of abilities (perks) brings an extra dimension in co-ordinating your strategy as indivdual heroes and units can level up numerous times and gain different abilities. While the set of possible tactical options is increased by equipping your forces with an assortment of powerful artefacts.
The fantasy setting may not be something as appetitising to those of you who prefer the machinations of modern warfare, but the graphics are so beautifully crafted it makes the game such a joy to play. Together with no gameplay bugs makes this game just perfect. Longevity and a certain amount of replayability made this a cert. for my collection.
This has to be the best hex turn-based fantasy collection ever made.
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Yes this is an old game, but its one that has matured with age. Given the number and size of the final patch, the massive CEP community built mod and so many fan based additions it retains such an epic scope, that there are few games that to this day can claim to match it.
All elements of gameplay still play consistently well. Combat, spell casting, character management/building, in game missions, dialogue, setting/locations, equipment/inventory, story-telling - all of these can be compared to RPGs such as KoTOR or Mass Effect. In some areas they surpass them.
Graphics are somewhat dated but remain crisp and more than adequate. Even if they have been surpassed by a sequel and new RPGs. The interface is near perfect, very easy to use - especially given those tricky combat moments. All in all, the game engine has stood the test of time - even if new games are your preference.
Perhaps though the games greatest assets are the sheer size, scale and numbers of everything from character types that can be built, weapons, clothing, item, locations that can be visited, the number of missions that can be sought, NPCs that can be talked and interacted with, spells that can be cast, etc. The sheer number of characters alone make this game almost infinitely replayable (myself having played through 3 times, with three different characters.)
The game is truly worth playing if for northing but the excellent story. Together with some superb major NPCs and some fabulous accompanying voice acting takes this close to the excellent stories of the Baldurs Gate Duology.
My only issues with the game are few in number. Perhaps the most annoying are the number of annoying bugs that remain. Gameplay is stifled somewhat by being limited to only one NPC. I prefer the party dynamic. The limitations of tactical options in combat mean that after about 1/2 way, you can easily tire of gameplay. Combat melee, ranged or magical become way to repetitive and I found myself struggling to stay interested intil the very last section of the game - when I knew the end was in sight. Combat isnt the only thing that becomes repetitive. Almost every aspect of gameplay falls into the same trap. Perhaps it would be best to play through as a MULTI-CLASS character, to change approach to play.
The only other issue is really just the nature of the roleplaying. I guess this is really something for the multiplayer/server game. In Singleplayer RP is very limited. Even dialogue choices can be repeated over and over and different non-RP choices made. There just arent enough consequences for doing non-RP appropriate actions.
Nonetheless, the game still brings a tremendous amount of fun for anyone willing to invest the necessary time to play through. While replayability is almost second to none.
Works well on older Athlon AMD 3500 or the newer CORE 3i processors. Just have at least 2GB of memory and a medium grahics card. Played on Geforce 7300, Nvidia 8800GT and ATI 5700.
A definite classic. One that should be owned and played by every gamer calling themselves an RPG fan.